Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe

Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe

Meatballs are almost like a universal love language. In fact, throughout my thirty something years on this planet, I cannot recall a single time when I encountered a human who shared their distaste for this food. A mashup of ground meat, cheese, eggs, herbs, garlic, breadcrumbs (and sometimes additional ingredients) formed into individual bite size spheres swimming in a bath of luscious sauce, typically red. They’re quite hard not to love.

Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

What sets these meatballs apart from most others is the addition of mortadella. Mortadella’s popularity has been growing for some time now and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. Mortadella originated in Italy and in essence, is an emulsified large format pork sausage. The pork meat is minced into a smooth paste, stuffed into a casing and then steamed. The complexion of the mortadella is created by a combination of fat, peppercorns and often pistachios and the texture is quite smooth. It’s enjoyed in a number of ways – sandwiched between bread, on charcuterie boards, draped over pizzas, and so on.

The inspiration to lace meatballs with mortadella was sparked during a recent trip of mine to New York City while reading a restaurant menu. This particular restaurant had a veal and mortadella meatball appetizer offering and it piqued my interest immediately, as I have a love affair with mortadella. While I did not try the veal and mortadella meatballs, I knew I had to experiment with the concept when I got home. I used an abbreviated version of the beef meatballs that I usually make and added in a healthy amount of diced mortadella. The result was marvelous – just fatty enough, packed with flavor and rich without being too over the top.

All of the mortadella & beef meatball ingredients
All of the mortadella & beef meatball ingredients

I decided to go with a roasted red pepper sauce instead of marinara as I thought that the marinara would overpower the beautiful savory and succulent notes that the meatballs project. Additionally, bell peppers are in season in Florida in December, so I figured this was an ideal time to utilize them. You can use jarred roasted red peppers instead of the fresh ones in this recipe to speed things up a bit. Rollin’ Oats carries Jeff’s Naturals organic roasted bell pepper strips and they would work as a great substitute.

You can find the rest of the ingredients for these meatballs also at Rollin’ Oats with the exception of the mortadella. That you can usually find at most specialty grocers. The ground beef that I used for these meatballs from Rollin’ Oats was the Dakota organic grassfed 85/15 blend, which proved to be perfect.

These meatballs and the roasted red pepper sauce are wonderful on their own as a pre-dinner appetizer, delightful tossed with spaghetti and satisfying while tucked into a split top roll with lots of parmesan cheese and fresh basil.


Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe

Abby Allen-Leach
These mortadella spiked meatballs in roasted red pepper sauce are packed with flavor. Serve them as an appetizer, or toss them with your favorite pasta. Make sure you have some toasted bread handy for scooping up the delicious sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 792 kcal


Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

  • 2 red bell peppers cut in half - stem and seeds removed
  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes medium in size
  • 1/2 white onion medium in size, diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated - plus more for serving


Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

  • Heat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with foil. Place bell pepper halves on sheet and roast for 18-20 minutes, or until peppers begin to take on some color. Remove peppers from oven, place in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam for 10 minutes (this will make it easier to remove the skin). Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard pepper skins - you'll have about 1 1/2 cups of roasted peppers.
    Roasted red peppers
  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a bowl. Cut a shallow x into the bottoms of each tomato. Carefully drop tomatoes into boiling water for one minute then place the tomatoes in the ice bath. Remove tomatoes from ice bath and the skin should peel off with ease - discard skins.
    Cut a shallow x into the bottom of the tomatoes before boiling
  • Place tomatoes and peppers into a blender and blend for 30 seconds until you have a semi-smooth puree. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add in onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softening begins - 6-7 minutes.
    Softening the onion
  • Stir in minced garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes until very fragrant.
    Minced garlic added to the pot
  • Then, mix in dried oregano.
    Adding in the oregano
  • Pour in pepper and tomato mixture and season with salt. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes (reduce the heat if the sauce begins to boil). Season with more salt as needed.
    The tomato and pepper puree poured in
  • Pour in heavy cream and 1/2 cup grated parmesan and stir to combine. Continue to gently simmer sauce until meatballs are finished in the oven.
    Mixing in the heavy cream


  • Heat oven to 350 F Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Gently form into golfball sized meatballs - mixture should yield about 16 meatballs. Evenly space them apart on the baking sheet and put them into the oven for 20 minutes.
    The mixtre yields about 16 meatballs
  • After meatballs have baked in the oven, carefully nestle them into the pot with the sauce, reduce heat to medium low and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer meatballs in the sauce for 30 minutes. If you find that the sauce is too thin, add in some more grated parmesan until you've reached the desired thickness.
    Nestling in the meatballs
  • To serve, spoon meatballs into a dish with some sauce, top with grated parmesan and garnish with fresh torn basil.
    Mortadella & Beef Meatballs
Nutrition Facts
Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 792 Calories from Fat 513
% Daily Value*
Fat 57g88%
Saturated Fat 26g163%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 22g
Cholesterol 245mg82%
Sodium 3656mg159%
Potassium 838mg24%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 45g90%
Vitamin A 3207IU64%
Vitamin C 88mg107%
Calcium 411mg41%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Calories: 792kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 45gFat: 57gSaturated Fat: 26gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 245mgSodium: 3656mgPotassium: 838mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 3207IUVitamin C: 88mgCalcium: 411mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Mortadella & Beef Meatballs, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
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