Rose Veal Meatballs with Yellow Tomato Butter

The glossy, golden sauce is all the adornment these meatballs need, served plain or over pasta.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 hour 15 minutes


By Bob Perry

Published on May 15, 2024

Because the grassy, subtly beefy flavor of rose veal is so good on its own, Bob Perry, who heads the foods lab at the University of Kentucky, seasons these meatballs simply, with salt and white pepper. For the buttery sauce, Perry recommends seeking out canned yellow tomatoes—which have less acid and more sugar than the red ones. “Yellow tomatoes highlight the lighter flavor of the veal rather than smothering it as a red sauce would,” he says.

Unlike traditional veal, which typically comes from young cattle raised in unsanitary feedlots, rose veal (also called rose beef) is always pasture-raised, and can be purchased online from Our Home Place Meat, a cooperative of farmers dedicated to high animal welfare standards.


For the tomato butter:

  • 4 cups (32 oz.) canned crushed tomatoes, preferably yellow
  • 16 Tbsp. salted butter

For the meatballs:

  • 2 lb. ground rose veal
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (1 oz.) finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. each kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, plus more
  • Spaghetti, for serving (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves


Step 1

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Step 2

Make the tomato butter: In a medium pot over medium heat, bring the crushed tomatoes to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a jammy consistency, 25–30 minutes. 

Step 3

Turn the heat down to low, then, a few tablespoons at a time, stir in the butter, allowing it to melt after each addition. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

Step 4

Make the meatballs: To a large bowl, add the veal, eggs, parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt, and white pepper. Mix by hand until just combined, then form the mixture into approximately 36 one-inch (½-ounce) balls. Arrange the meatballs on the baking sheet, transfer to the oven, and bake until cooked through and the outsides are crispy, 10–12 minutes. 

Step 5

Rewarm the tomato butter gently over low heat. Spoon into wide bowls (over spaghetti, if desired), top with meatballs, garnish with parmesan and a few torn basil leaves, and serve hot.

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