By: Chloë Sibley Writer & Journalist | Specialist Food & Arts

The history of the meatball is thought to have begun in Persia, where leftover meat was used to create the first examples of Kofta. From here, the spheres of meat reached many countries across Asia and Europe — eventually landing in Italy, possibly via Venetian traders. Chef Laura Franceschetti brings you her recipe for Tuna Polpette, perfect for fish lovers still craving the bite of a meatball. 

Polpette is the Italian take on the meatball — small in size, but so substantial in stuffing and flavour they can be a meal on their own. In this recipe, Taggiasca olives provide their renowned nutty essence, with these purple gems born out of the small yet prominent Liguria region in Northwest Italy. The Polpette's flavour is enhanced further with peppery rocket and fresh parsley, making every bite mouthwateringly fresh.

Tuna Polpette

Makes around 15 polpette - Cook in 30 minutes


- 300g boiled potatoes
- 200g canned tuna, drained of oil
- 45g Taggiasca olives, unpitted and diced
- 1 egg
- 40g fresh rocket, chopped
- Tuft of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Slice of white bread
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Breadcrumbs


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (°C), and place a slice of white bread to soak in water for 5 minutes. Mash the boiled potatoes in a bowl, stirring in the chopped parsley, soaked white bread, tuna and egg. Continue to gently mix, adding the olives and rocket, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Using damp hands, roll out the mixture into round or oval shapes, coating with breadcrumbs. Arrange the polpette on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, drizzle some olive oil, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking time.

Step 3

Alternatively if you want a bit more crunch to your polpette,  pan-fry in sunflower oil till golden. Drain and transfer onto a plate covered with kitchen paper, and serve warm. Buon appetito!

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