Italian Tuna Balls with Spaghetti

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May 24, 2018

For a twist on classic Italian meatballs, these simple yet tasty little treats are made with canned tuna which is incredibly convenient and easy to use – just open and prepare. Enjoy them with pasta for dinner or in pitta bread for a tasty lunch.

  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Serves: 4


1Make the tuna balls first by blitzing the toasted bread, onion, cheese, garlic, lemon, parsley, salt and pepper in a food processor using the blade attachment until finely chopped. Add the tuna and egg and pulse briefly until the mixture is well combined. (Be careful not to pulse to a puree)

2Use wet hands to form about 16 tuna balls that should be about 4cm in diameter. Stir together the flour and oregano and roll the tuna balls in it. Place on a plate, cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes

3In the meantime make the tomato sauce by heating the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, salt and sugar, then fry for 10 minutes until the onions are soft and starting to caramelise. Add the black pepper and tomato puree, fry for a further two minutes, then stir in the passata, turn down the heat to low and leave to simmer and reduce for 20 minutes

4Using the sunflower oil reserved from the cans, fry the tuna balls in batches, for two to three minutes on each side until brown in a frying pan over a medium heat, turning frequently

5Boil the spaghetti according to the packet instructions

6Serve the drained pasta in large bowls with the tomato sauce spooned over and the tuna balls nestling on the top

Nutritional information

Energy (kcal) 678
Fat (g) 21
Sat fat (g) 5.5
Carbs (g) 79
Sugar (g) 14
Fibre (g) 7.5
Protein (g) 40
Salt (g) 2.52


For the tuna balls:

1 slice brown bread, lightly toasted and torn into pieces

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

50g grated hard cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley (or 2 tsp dried parsley)

Half tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 x 160g cans tuna chunks in sunflower oil, drained (reserving the oil for later)

1 large egg

40g plain flour

1 tsp dried oregano

For the tomato sauce and spaghetti:

2 tbsp light olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Half tsp salt

Half tsp sugar

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp tomato puree

500g passata

300g spaghetti