Tuna Polpettine with Cherry Tomato and Basil Sauce

Polpettine is Italian for tiny meatballs, but this quick and easy version is made with tuna.


  • For the cherry tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 x 395g cans Waitrose Italian Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 25g pack fresh basil, roughly torn
  • For the tuna polpettine
  • 2 x 200g cans tuna steak in olive oil, drained
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 2 salad onions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten


  1. To make the cherry tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Fry gently for 3-4 minutes, until the onion has softened and is translucent.
  2. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and sugar, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and glossy. Add half the basil and keep the sauce warm over a gentle heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place the tuna, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano, salad onion and egg together in a large bowl and use a fork to combine. Using your hands, shape the mixture into about 16 balls, each one roughly the size of a walnut.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the tuna balls for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper before placing on top of a dish of pasta, such as tagliatelle, or rice. Pour the cherry tomato sauce over, garnish with the remaining basil and serve immediately.

Cook's tips

The polpettine and sauce can be prepared in advance and chilled. Reheat in the oven at 200°C, gas mark 6 for 20-30 minutes until piping hot.

  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 55 minutes 55 minutes

Serves: 4

Nutritional Info

Typical values per serving:

Energy 1828.408kJ
Fat 20.7g
Saturated Fat 5.0g
Sugars 11.3g
Salt 1.5g

Click here for more information about health and nutrition

5 stars

Average user rating Based on 59 ratings

This recipe was first published in Mon May 01 01:00:00 BST 2006.