Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce Over Polenta Bowls

Chef Alli stirring pot

Replacing spaghetti with polenta is a nice change up, and the oh-so-fresh tomato sauce is truly a winner in this dish: quick and easy, but it tastes like it simmered all day long.  

Meatballs and Tomato Basil Sauce over Polenta Bowls


Tomato Basil Sauce

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • cloves garlic minced
  • 28  oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3  cup minced fresh Italian parsley
  • Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 3/4  tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 16 oz. ground sirloin may substitute half ground turkey or ground pork, if desired
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 slice white bread crumbled finely
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry polenta
  • shredded parmesan for garnishing


  1. In a saute pan or skillet, cook bacon until crispy over medium high heat; remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  2. In bacon drippings, cook onion over medium heat until translucent, approx. 6-8 minutes. Stir in garlic and continue to cook another 30 seconds, or just until garlic is fragrant. Add tomatoes, parsley, sugar, and pepper flakes. Simmer 15-20 minutes; stir in basil, then season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sirloin with turkey, egg, parsley, parmesan, fennel seeds and bread; mix well, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Shape mixture into meatballs approx. 1 ½ -2 inches in size and place into a greased and bake for 20 minutes for in preheated 450 degree F. oven, until nicely browned.
  5. Remove cooked meatballs from any fats that have accumulated in the baking dish and place into prepared Tomato Basil Sauce; simmer in sauce for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup dried polenta according to package directions.
  6. To serve, pour sauce over bowls of soft, warm polenta then top with meatballs; garnish with freshly shredded parmesan, if desired.

Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli


Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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