Food & Drink

Niall McKenna’s pork meatballs and ricotta tart - recipes

This week Niall shares two of his favourite recipes to make at home

Niall McKenna's pork meatballs
Niall McKenna's pork meatballs

This week’s dishes are two of my favourites which I love to make for a late lunch or an early dinner in the comfort of my own home - pork meatballs and ricotta tart.

What I love about meatballs is that you can make extra and keep them in the freezer for a busy day when you don’t have time to cook but are craving something delicious and comforting.

As for my ricotta tart, this is superb as a treat with your morning coffee or as quick dessert to whip up for friends and family when they call over unexpectedly... which happens often in our household.

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Pork Meatballs

Niall McKenna's pork meatballs
Niall McKenna's pork meatballs


(Serves 4-5)

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 onion, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp olive oil
For the sauce
  • 500g fresh plum tomatoes
  • 50g butter
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tin butterbeans, drained
  • 100g baby tomatoes, halved
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper


  • For this dish, knead the pork in a bowl with damp hands (this helps to bind the proteins in the meat for cooking). When soft and pliable, add in the grated onion, parsley, and beaten egg. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  • Start to roll the mix into balls using the palms of your hands.
  • Next, you want to seal off your meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a pan and once bubbling, add in the meatballs and lightly brown, turning carefully. Remove from the heat once browned.
  • To make the sauce, blanch the tomatoes and remove the skin. Take each plum tomato and make an incision in the shape of a cross on the top of each one. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Leave for a minute and one by one, remove from the water and peel off the skins, discarding the skin. Use a clean cloth if the tomatoes are too hot to handle. Repeat this with all the tomatoes and chop.
  • Next, melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and onion. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. Stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Depending on how you like your sauce, you can blend using a stick blender or leave as is. Add in the butterbeans and warm through. Then, add in the halved baby tomatoes and meatballs into the sauce and leave on a gentle heat with the lid on for 10 minutes.
  • To plate, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve straight from the pan.

Ricotta Tart

Niall McKenna's ricotta tart
Niall McKenna's ricotta tart


(Serves 8)

  • 1 tart case
  • 50g butter
  • 500g ricotta cheese, crumbled
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs, separate the yolk form the white
  • 150g orange and lemon zest


  • Start by preheating the oven to 180C.
  • Melt the butter on a gentle heat on the hob and use to grease the inside of a large flan tin (25-28cm). Line the tin with the pastry, and blind bake. Leave any overhang outside the tin.
  • Next, place the ricotta into a bowl and crumble with a fork. Add in the sugar, egg yolks, zest, and mix well. In a second bowl, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and then fold in the ricotta mix one spoonful at a time (I tend to use a metal spoon when doing this as it helps with technique). Try not to over beat the mix as you still want it to be airy. Then, place the filling into the pastry case and fold over the overhanging filo pastry.
  • Place in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, checking it is cooked in the centre using a knitting needle or skewer. If it comes out clean, the mix is cooked, leave to cool for a few minutes, slice and serve.