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the goods

you will need:


1 cup olive oil

1 lb / 450 lean ground / minced pork

1 lb /450g lean ground / minced beef

4oz / 55g pancetta or bacon, finely diced

1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs

4 tblspns milk

3 eggs

2 tblspns grated parmesan

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tspn salt


1/2 tspn cayenne pepper

1/2 tspn ground / dried sage

1/2 tspn fennel seeds, ground

flour for dredging


about 6 big handfuls of salad greens: romaine lettuce, spinach, rocket / arugula, a little radicchio. Any or all.

handful of old-school stuffed green olives

1 cup cherry tomatoes

12 bocconcini / baby mozzarella

1 cup crimini / button mushrooms

1 red capsicum

12 pepperoncini  / sweet spicy peppadews


1 tblspn minced shallot

1 tblspns minced red pepper/ capsicum

1 tblspns finely chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 tspn dried oregano

1/2 tspn salt


1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup very good olive oil

pinch sugar


  • large mixing bowl
  • large skillet
  • salad bowl

time: 40 minutes total

serve with polenta hush puppies





Mannix's tasty balls salad

This was fun.

It was fun to think up.

It was fun to shop for.

It was fun to make.

It was really fun to eat.

Old school meatballs, fried up and served in a salad bowl where all of the other ingredients (other than the leaves) were all round balls; olives, tomatoes, mozzarella and so forth.

Knowing that the dressing was going to have basil and oregano in it, I deliberately seasoned the meatballs differently. You could adapt this meatball recipe to suit a pasta or to serve with a dipping sauce as an appetizer. In that case, I encourage you to play around with the seasoning.

Just parsley and oregano would be great. Or basil and fennel. Or crumble a spiced sausage in there instead of pancetta. Or make it all feel very grown up and swap the milk for red wine and add some diced porcini.

Likewise, knowing there was garlic in the balls, I opted for the minced / diced shallot in the dressing.

Use your regular olive oil for the cooking of the balls, but break out the sensational stuff for the dressing. You won't be sorry.

And I had planned to serve these with polenta hush puppies alongside, but I wound up tossing them into the bowl where they soaked up the extra dressing; so happy I did that!

This is really one of my instant favourite meals. Serve it at a party. Or downscale it for a weeknight dinner.

the meatballs:

Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk (I sliced the crust off an old foccaccia roll, diced it and blitzed it. Instant breadcrumbs!)

Mix the meat and diced pancetta / bacon.

Add all other ingredients (except flour and olive oil) and mix by hand.

Place about 1 cup of flour in a bowl.

Roll a meatball about 1 1/2 inches, 3-4 centimetres in width, shape it gently into a ball and roll it lightly in flour. Place it on a board lined with foil or wax paper.

Repeat until all of the mix has been rolled. This will give you about 3 dozen balls. (you will probably need to wash your hands of gluggy flour a couple of times; have the sink filled and a towel on hand)

Heat the oil in a large skillet. The oil should be 1/4 inch  / 1/2 cm deep in the skillet. Use more or less depending upon your pan.

Gently place the meatballs in the oil. I roll them off the end of a spoon to avoid being splattered with hot oil. Use the pan handle as a reference of where you start placing the balls and work in a clockwise fashion. Place balls around the perimeter of the pan, then place them in a circle inside and so forth. By the time that you have filled the pan, it is probably time to start turning the first ball. Keep them moving around and brown all sides. You may have to cook them in 2 batches. Make sure the balls are cooked through. (if you were making them for a pasta sauce, just brown them all over, drain the oil and add the tomato sauce and simmer for 20 minutes).

Remove the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towel and allow to cool slightly.


Chop, dice or mince the shallot (substitute with scallion or red onion), garlic, capsicum / bell pepper and basil.

Add chopped ingredients with oregano, salt and a pinch of freshly ground pepper into a measuring jug or bowl.

Add vinegar and oil and whisk to emulsify / incorporate. Taste. You might want to add a pinch of sugar. Tart it up with a splash more vinegar, soothe it down with a splash more olive oil.

the salad:

Mix the leaves. My favourite mix is a crispy lettuce like romaine or cos, something bitter (radicchio), something sweet (basil) and something deep green (spinach, arugula / rocket).

Slice the red pepper into thin discs and place around the perimeter of the salad bowl. Pile the leaves in the middle.

Arrange all of your lovely, round, bite-sized balls on top: the meatballs (serve hot), the tomatoes, olives, pepperoncinis, mushrooms and mozzarella balls. If I'm feeling particularly generous, I'll splash out on a big, fat ball of burrata and place it in the middle instead of small bocconcini.

Pour the dressing over everything and serve with polenta hushpuppies straight from the oven!