Beef and mozzarella meatballs with fennel and silverbeet

Each meatball has an oozy mozzarella centre and contains hidden goodness with silverbeet and fennel. Serve with chunky pasta and lots of grated parmesan!

  • 4 hrs cooking
  • Serves 6
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Beef & mozzarella meatballs with fennel & silver beet
  • 1 kilogram minced beef
  • 1 cup (70g) stale breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup (80g) finely grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 clove garlic, crushed
  • 80 gram mozzarella, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 2 brown onions (300g), chopped finely
  • 1 fennel bulb (300g), trimmed, sliced thinly
  • 3 1/2 cup bottled tomato passata
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken or beef stock
  • 3 silver beet (swiss chard) leaves, trimmed, shredded finely
  • 500 gram cavatelli or other short chunky pasta
  • 2 tablespoon finely grated parmesan, extra
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, extra


Beef & mozzarella meatballs with fennel & silver beet
  • 1
    Combine beef, breadcrumbs, rind, parmesan, eggs, chopped parsley and half the garlic in a large bowl; season to taste. Roll rounded tablespoons of mixture into balls, press a piece of mozzarella into the centre of each meatball, shaping as you go to completely enclose the cheese. Place meatballs on a tray, cover; refrigerate 20 minutes.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • 3
    Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook 5 minutes or until browned all over, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer meatballs to a 3-litre (12-cup) ovenproof dish. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of oil and remaining meatballs.
  • 4
    Wipe out pan. Heat remaining oil in same pan over high heat; cook onion, fennel and remaining garlic, stirring, 5 minutes or until softened. Add fennel mixture to meatballs with passata, stock and silver beet; stir until combined. Season to taste.
  • 5
    Bake, covered, 45 minutes or until fennel is tender.
  • 6
    Meanwhile, 15 minutes before meatballs are ready, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until almost tender; drain and keep warm.
  • 7
    Serve pasta topped with meatballs, extra parmesan and extra parsley.


It is best to use a mince that isn't too lean otherwise the meatballs will be dry. Cavatelli pasta resembles a split hot dog bun in shape. It is available from some delis and green grocers. You can use any other short or tubular pasta instead.