Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce excerpted from Yiayia: Time-perfected Recipes from Greece’s Grandmothers by Anastasia Miari. Copyright photography © Anastasia Perahia.

Yiayia: Time-perfected Recipes from Greece’s Grandmothers by Anastasia Miari

Yiayia: Time-perfected Recipes from Greece’s Grandmothers showcases regional Greek cookery and features sharing and feasting dishes, mainly vegetarian, from the kitchens of grandmothers across Greece.

Think Stuffed Courgettes from Lesvos, a Cycladic Fourtalia, Corfiot spicy Bourdeto Stew, Ionian pasta dishes, Cretan Dakos salad, Watermelon Cake from Milos.Yiayia maps out the diverse dishes of Greece — far beyond the most commonly-known Moussaka, Greek Salad, and Tzatziki dip – through the fascinating recipes and stories of its Yiayiades.

Follow Anastasia’s journey through Greece as each yiayia welcomes you into their home – cook with them in their kitchen, learn their time-perfected techniques and read the memories that season this book. With stunning location photography and heartwarming interviews, you can discover the true food of Greece and the characterful grandmothers behind beaded curtains in white-washed homes.

Yiayia: Time-perfected Recipes from Greece’s Grandmothers by Anastasia Miari is available at, and    

Yiayia Poly’s Giouvarlakia (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce) from Athens

Traditionally in greece, soul-soothing giouvarlakia are paired with an avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce, but Yiayia Poly is not a purist so she makes a tomato sauce to sit her meatballs in instead. an athenian yiayia with a modern sensibility and cutting humour that’s as sharp as her nose, Poly takes an inventive approach to cooking, looking out beyond greece for many of her favourite dishes.

It takes us a while to land on a classic greek dish when discussing what her contribution to this book will be, but there’s absolutely no way I’m missing Poly out. She lives in a typical polykatoikia (apartment block) in Athens’ well-heeled Kolonaki neighbourhood and is representative of the elegant and refined yiayiades that make up a good portion of the city’s population.

We settle on giouvarlakia to make together, Poly instructing me to do the jobs she least enjoys (like grating the onion) and pointedly ordering her grandson, Karolos, around, all the while amusing us with her sarcasm and wry wit. she’s a force to be dealt with but her warming giouvarlakia in this sweet tomato sauce reveal the care and love that she obviously has for her grandchildren. a true yiayia in every sense.

Yiayia Poly serves her giouvarlakia with a small tipple of beer (she drinks one small glass every day), crusty bread and hunks of feta.

Serves 6


680 g (1 lb 8 oz) passata (sieved tomatoes)

1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 680 ml (23 fl oz/23/4 cups) water

180 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) extra virgin olive oil

1¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar


2 red onions, grated

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) minced (ground) beef

1 large egg

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

½ bunch of parsley, leaves finely chopped

3 tablespoons long-grain rice plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting

In a large saucepan, combine the passata, stock, olive oil, pepper and sugar, then bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15–20 minutes while you prepare the meatballs.

Drain any excess liquid from the grated onions using a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) or a sieve, then transfer to a bowl. Add the beef, egg, salt, pepper, parsley and rice and use your hands to combine.

Pour a little flour onto a plate, ready to coat your meatballs.

Roll the meat mixture into golf-ball-sized-spheres, dipping each meatball into the plate of flour so that it is lightly dusted all over before setting aside on a large plate or tray.

Once you’ve rolled all the meat into balls, add them to the pot of sauce and ensure they are entirely covered by the liquid. If you need to you can add a dash of water so that the liquid just
covers the meatballs. Cover and simmer over a medium heat for 20–30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. If it’s still on the watery side, simmer uncovered for a little longer.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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