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One meal I absolutely adored growing up was tzoutzoukakia, aka Greek meatballs in a tomato salsa. There was nothing better coming home from a long day at school, chilled to the bone from the bus trip home, and smelling the aroma of the meatballs cooking in the tomato salsa…from the front gate!    

The aromatic bliss that is the combination of onion, garlic, fresh herbs, cinnamon and tomato all cooking in with the beef mince is just a small indication of the goodness that is to follow! When it’s time to eat, the meatballs are delicious, tender little morsels that are a joy to gobble up! We always used to have plain white rice to accompany this dish (as opposed to the more Italian meatballs and spaghetti) and always had a good dollop of Greek yoghurt on standby to add to our plates.    

A nostalgic addition to my recipe list, I hope you enjoy it!    

H xx    

Serves: 6  
Preparation time: 15 minutes  
Cooking time: 1 hour    

For the meatballs:  

  • 1.5kg premium beef mince  
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped  
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes  
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped  
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped  
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs  
  • ¼ cup milk  
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce  
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar  
  • 1 egg    
For the salsa:  
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil  
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped  
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped  
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon  
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves  
  • 1 x 400g tin Italian diced tomatoes  
  • Pinch sugar  
  • 1 cup chicken stock  
  • Salt and pepper, to taste    

Fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped, to garnish (if desired)  
Greek yoghurt and white rice, to serve (if desired)    

1. Place all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix together so everything is well incorporated. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into oval shapes and set aside. (To make the traditional shape, pinch the two ends of the oval to make little points and set aside)  

2. To make the salsa, heat the olive in a large, heavy based casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent but not yet browned. Add the garlic, cinnamon and cloves and saute for another minute until they become fragrant.  

3. Add the tomatoes, sugar, stock and season to your taste. Once the salsa has come to a boil, layer the meatballs directly into the salsa taking care not to squash the meatballs. Bring the mixture to a boil again before lowering the heat. Partially cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the meatballs have cooked through. If the salsa is at this stage still runny, up the heat on the cooktop to allow some of the liquid to evaporate however remember to often gently shake the dish about to prevent the meatballs or salsa catching to the bottom of the pot.  

4. Divide the mixture between the bowls and garnish with fresh parsley leaves. Serve with plain white rice and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.