Jessie Ware’s Turkish meatballs in tomato sauce

07 Apr 2020 | Updated on: 27 Sep 2022 |By Luxury London

"These are light as a feather and seem to invite a confession. Like when my dear friend the singer/songwriter Sam Smith explained they thought Mexico was in Spain while we fed these beauties to them"

This recipe is taken from Table Manners, the new cookbook from singer Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie. Based on the wildly popular podcast of the same name, it peppers deliciously simple dishes with personal anecdotes and a dash of the mother-daughter duo’s signature wit.

Serves 4-6


50g fresh white breadcrumbs75ml whole milk500g minced turkey thighs2 garlic cloves, crushedor finely gratedfinely grated zest of 1 lemon1 egg, beaten40g pecorino or Parmesancheese, finely grated,plus extra to serve2 tsp finely choppedfresh oregano,or 1 tsp dried oreganoabout 1⁄4 nutmeg,freshly grated1 tsp fine saltfreshly ground black pepper

Tomato sauce

2 tbsp olive oil1 small onion, finely diced2 garlic cloves, crushed1 heaped tbsp tomato purée1 tsp paprika (mild or hot)2 × 400g tins choppedtomatoes1 large handful of basilleaves1⁄2–1 tsp caster sugar(optional)salt and pepper


First, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt and gently fry for 5–10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for two minutes, then stir in the tomato purée and paprika and cook for another two minutes.

Tip in the tomatoes and chopped basil, then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and pour over the milk. Add the turkey, garlic, lemon zest, egg, cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Using your hands, gently combine, taking care not to overmix. With wet hands, gently shape the mixture into about 20 small-medium meatballs (about the size of golf balls – roughly 40g each and 5cm in diameter).

Gently drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes and giving the pan a shake from time to time.

Remove the lid and simmer for another five minutes. Serve the meatballs with the basil leaves and a grating of pecorino or Parmesan.

Extracted from Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware (Ebury Press, £22) Photography by Ola O Smit Falastin