For the meatballs

100g of pitted queen green olives

3 slices white bread

100 ml milk

500g minced beef

¼ onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 egg, beaten

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the sauce

50g of pitted black olives

5 tablespoons good-quality olive oil

¾ onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon sugar

1 glass of white wine

1 x 400g tin chopped plum tomatoes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk and leave for a few minutes. Put the minced beef in a large shallow dish or baking tray and add the onion, garlic, parsley and seasoning. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add to the mixture, along with the beaten egg
  2. Knead the mixture with clean hands for a couple of minutes until the ingredients are well combined (don’t over work it or the meatballs will become rubbery). Roll the minced mixture around each of the pitted queen olive to make balls and place in a shallow roasting tin. The traditional way of cooking these is to fry them in batches in a little olive oil over a medium heat but I prefer to do it the easy way and roast them. Simply drizzle with a little olive oil and cook for 10 minutes in the oven at 180°C/gas mark 4
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent, but not coloured. Add the whole black pitted olives, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, sugar and wine and flambé by setting light to the pan using a lighter or some long matches. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half and then add the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the meatballs and cook together for another 15 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through



If your pan is too wide, the tomato sauce may evaporate too quickly and become dry. If this happens, just add a little water to the pan.