Food with JP passion - Baked Spicy Italian Meatballs

John Paul Kennedy is a self-taught cook and an avid fan of collecting cookery books with a passion for good old-fashioned home cooking. His passion for proper family cooking stems from his TWO Grandmothers, who were both excellent cooks, one of whom was a trained chef. JP promises to bring us plenty of family-inspired recipes and tasty treats while showing us how to get the basics right.

By JP Kennedy

This is one of those quick staple one-tray suppers I’ve been making for about three years now and one I had actually forgotten about until this week when, due to my new hob going on the blink, I was forced to think of suppers I can do just in the oven.

The eureka moment came when I remembered this delicious dish. I posted it on my social media pages on the evening I made it and have been inundated with requests to share the recipe with friends, family and some followers.

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So I thought why not share with all you lovely readers of The Echo and my weekly blog. All the family will love this recipe, especially the children, and the great thing is that it uses just one baking tray – it really saves on the washing-up and is perfect for this time of year when we all yearn for comfort-hugging food served in a bowl.


  • 700g tomato passata
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato purée
  • 2 mozzarella balls, sliced
  • Good handful of freshly chopped basil
  • 1 beef-stock cube

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  • 450g lean minced beef
  • 100g pancetta, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli and 1 red chilli, finely chopped (I like mine really spicy, or if you prefer less heat, reduce to one chilli)
  • 50g grated Parmesan cheese Dash of Worcestershire sauce 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper


1. Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4.

2. In a large mixing bowl add all the meatball ingredients – season with salt and cracked black pepper and mix together until evenly combined. If you have a processor you can add in all the ingredients and blitz until evenly mixed and combined – saves all the chopping, the processor does all the work for you.

3. Using a tablespoon, form golf-ball-sized meatballs by rolling them with your hands.

4. Once you’ve rolled all the meatballs (makes about 16) pop them onto a plate and place in the fridge for 30 minutes

5. Place the meatballs into a large roasting dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and pop into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

6. Take the meatballs out of the oven and pour over the passata, dried thyme, oregano, chilli flakes, beef-stock cube and tomato purée and swish it around with a wooden spoon to roughly combine.

7. Cover with foil and put pack into the oven for another 30 minutes, popping on the sliced mozzarella cheese and freshly chopped basil for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

8. Serve with pasta, gnocchi, salad or crusty Italian bread, perfect for scooping up the meatballs and sauce and you are transported to meatball heaven.

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I must admit I forgot just how delicious these meatballs are and it’s safe to say I will be coming back to it time and time again.

A little bit of preparation, bung it in and let the oven do all the work. Perfect for winter evenings and or lazy weekend suppers. I promise whomever you make this for, they will love you for it.

These are healthier meatballs as they are not fried, just baked, and while light in texture 3-4 meatballs covered in the rich tomato sauce will satisfy the hungriest of guests.

Contact JP on:

Twitter: @JPKCooking
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Instagram: jpkennedy.kennedy

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