Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Pepper Sauce

Savory little meatballs are served as tapas all over Spain, with toothpicks for spearing those tasty morsels and popping them in your mouth. They’re lovely served piping hot or at room temperature, so they make great party food.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
55 min



  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 lb. ground lamb or lean ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 sweet onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each sea salt, ground black pepper and ground allspice

Tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 sweet onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups jarred or BPA-free canned tomato purée or sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley


1. Make meatballs: Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bread in a medium bowl, sprinkle with milk; let stand about 10 minutes.

2. Using a fork, mash bread mixture well. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir in remaining meatball ingredients until combined. Using about 1½ tbsp of the mixture each, shape into 24 meatballs. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake until no longer pink in center or an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, about 25 minutes. Drain well.

3. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a large saucepan on medium, heat oil. Add onion, bell pepper, marjoram and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are very tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add tomato purée, ½ cup water and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

4. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, uncovered, until flavors are melded, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with mint.

MAKE AHEAD: Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. In a saucepan, cover and reheat on medium-low, about 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 3 meatballs and 2 tbsp sauce
  • Calories 207
  • Carbohydrate Content 13.5 g
  • Cholesterol Content 61 mg
  • Fat Content 12 g
  • Fiber Content 3 g
  • Protein Content 13 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 4 g
  • Sodium Content 386 mg
  • Sugar Content 6 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 6 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 1 g

Trending on Clean Eating