Italian tuna balls

Italian tuna balls

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(64 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Ready in 20 mins


Serves 4

A superhealthy twist on a family favourite that can be served with spaghetti or squashed flat and cooked as burgers

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Easily doubled / halved

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal594
  • fat12g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs92g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre4g
  • protein35g
  • salt1.42g
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  • 2 160g cans of tuna in sunflower or olive oil, drained (reserve a little oil)



    A member of the mackerel family, tuna are mainly found in the world's warmer oceans. They…

  • small handful of pine nuts
  • freshly grated zest 1 lemon



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • small handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…

  • 50g fresh breadcrumb
  • 1 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 500g jar pasta sauce


  1. Flake the tuna into a bowl, then tip in the pine nuts, lemon zest, parsley, breadcrumbs and egg. Season and mix together with your hands until completely combined. Roll the mix into 12 walnut-size balls. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, then cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions.

  2. Heat a little of the tuna oil in a large non-stick frying pan, then fry the tuna balls for 5 mins, turning every minute or so until completely golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Heat the tomato sauce, then toss together with the pasta and tuna balls.

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Comments, questions and tips

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31st Mar, 2009
yummy. It worked really grat with Jamie Olivers tomato and basil pasta sauce...
14th Mar, 2009
My four year-old daughter had never willingly eaten tuna until being presented with these. She loved them! I found the tuna balls held their shape quite well but possibly would've fallen apart had I stirred the sauce much after adding them. I agree with the comments re: the quantities. It fed me and two small children but I'd have to up the quantities if my husband was eating with us.
27th Feb, 2009
I'm pleased to read that I wasnt the only one who found that the tuna balls tended to fall apart a bit! It is a tasty recipe and I added some chopped red onion, some chilli, garlic and the first time a bit of grated mozarella too. The first time I ended up with a tuna mess, but it was tasty with the sauce and pasta. The second time I rolled the balls in flour before cooking which seemed to help but some still fell apart. It doesnt seem to matter which pasta you use but if anyone has any great ideas for making the balls stick together so you can cook them I would be interested as I really would like to cook this again.
5th Feb, 2009
I don't know if it was me. I've liked every recipe of this site and use it daily. but this recipe tasted like what I think cat food would be like if I were to eat it. Not very nice at all. Very bland, horrible texture and nearly made me be sick. Although it could be my wifes cooking.
28th Jan, 2009
A great way to cook using cupboard ingredients. Everyone loved this dish.
22nd Dec, 2008
These tuna 'meatballs' were a success. I added very finely chopped onion and missed out the lemon zest (only because I didn't have any lemon) I also fried the balls until they were very crispy and the onion cooked. I will make again using the lemon and I also like the sound of the tex mex tuna burgers.
25th Nov, 2008
Yes, I would say definateley add breadcrumbs and leave in fridge for a while
25th Nov, 2008
I cook these very often for a quick tea with Jamie Olivers easy tomato sauce and spaghetti. My 1 year old daughter loves them too, I leave out the nuts and add red onion and sweetcorn.
19th Nov, 2008
Vicky made this and the steamed chocolate pudding. We found making fresh breadcrumbs a bit difficult but the bread quickly mixed in with the other ingredients and the balls stayed together quite well. We made a tomato sauce with an onion softened in olive oil and a tin of tomatoes.
12th Oct, 2008
This was a tasty meal, and was easy to make. We used Asda spicy tomato pasta sauce for the sauce and "mmm", was really good. Our little girl ate some of it too, which was good as she is fussy!


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