Fennel seeds have a sweet liquorice-like taste and are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients. They go well with pork meatballs, and here I have also used some fennel bulb, which gives a softer flavour and moister meatball.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (7 votes)


  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra


  • 400 g lean pork mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, grated
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2–3 dill fronds, finely chopped, plus extra to serve


  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (500 ml) purèed tomatoes
  • 4 cups (1 litre) boiling water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time: 1 hour

1. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Use clean hands to mix all the meatball ingredients together in a bowl with a few good pinches of salt and pepper. Lightly oil your hands to prevent sticking, then roll the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs. Place on the prepared tray, cover and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium–high heat and fry the meatballs for 3–5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and set aside.

3. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion until softened and translucent. Add the tomato and boiling water, then season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and paprika. Simmer for 5 minutes, then carefully add the meatballs and simmer for 20 minutes more.

4. Garnish the polpette with the extra dill and serve with a salad.


The Heart Health Guide by Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, Published by Macmillan, RRP $34.99, Photography by Rob Palmer.