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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman

Mortadella Meatballs With Pistachio Pesto

These meatballs were inspired by one of my all-time favorite dishes in Rome - the Mortadella Pistachio Meatballs at Dilla. Every time I'm in Rome, I head back and order the same meatballs. They're that good.

Lucky for me, when we were filming Bobby and Giada In Italy, I had the honor to learn how to actually make them - and you can watch it any time on Discovery+!

I had to try my hand at making a similar recipe. Mortadella gives these meatballs tons of flavor, and makes them extra succulent. The creamy pistachio pesto sauce is sweet, creamy and herbaceous - the perfect counterpart.

I like to serve these with something light, like a bed of arugula to brighten it all up. They're amazing served with pasta, too - or even in these little sliders!

Pistachio Mortadella Meatballs

Mortadella Meatballs with Pistachio Pesto


Appetizer Main Course

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

20 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Mortadella Meatballs with Pistachio Pesto


    For The Meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound mortadella (diced small)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • For The Sauce:

  • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Arugula (for serving, optional)
  • Chopped pistachios for serving (optional)


  1. For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cheese, breadcrumbs, milk, oregano, lemon zest, salt and egg in a medium bowl. Add the pork and mortadella and gently fold the mixture until fully and evenly combined.
  3. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on a small, rimmed baking sheet. Scoop the mixture into 16-18 golf-ball sized balls and roll until smooth. Place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and bake, 20 minutes.
  4. For the sauce: Meanwhile, pulse the pistachios in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the basil, parsley and salt and pulse to combine. And the olive oil and ½ - 1 cup cold water and puree until the pesto is a smooth, creamy texture. Add the cheese and pulse to combine.
  5. Divide the arugula among 4 to 5 plates and top with 3 to 4 meatballs each. Spoon the pesto over the meatballs. Serve with chopped pistachios if desired.



per serving
Amount/Serving % Daily Value
4 grams
13 grams
25 grams
Saturated Fat
7 grams
47 milligrams
502 milligrams
1 grams
1 grams

10 reviews & comments

  • Author's avatar image

    Really good flavor although I would go 1/4lb on the mortadella. Also, agree, dress the arugula with lemon and oil otherwise its dry. Pesto is outstanding and needs nothing!

  • Author's avatar image
    Anne Boubion

    LOVED the show! Super cute chemistry. This are delish. A bit rich with the mortadella. Ok, Maybe I used too much. I’m not too good with recipes and don’t really measure. I’ll make again for sure.

  • Author's avatar image
    Joe Kasper

    So unless I’m blind, this recipe isn’t close to anything done with the chef on the actual show. I was so hoping it would be. I guess I’ll have to make up my own

  • Author's avatar image
    Maureen Faraci

    I’ve made this recipe three times now…I usually use combo I veal/pork/beef and I rough chop the mortadella used the flat leaf parsley in with the arugula and dressed it with lemon juice and pistachio oil It’s delicious and a great dish for entertaining because it looks much fussier than it is

  • Author's avatar image
    Jon Purtell

    This was delicious. I would add garlic to the pesto and to the meatballs, however. And, The Aguila was slightly dry so I'd dress the Aguila slightly. Maybe a lite dressing of lemon and olive oil.

  • Author's avatar image
    Ellen North

    amazing recipe!! we ordered these at Dilla after seeing them on the episode of Bobby and Giada in Italy – outstanding – and will be making these at home in Alabama

  • Author's avatar image
    Yvonne Barcewski

    Best recipe I've made in a long time. Didn't have the arugula so I served this over crunchy shredded leaf lettuce and it was outstanding. I'm single; so I halved the recipe. I have leftovers for tomorrow. This will also become a recipe for guests.

  • Author's avatar image
    Robin Morrell

    Delicious! Moist and tasty meatballs and the pesto sauce adds an element of elegance. Stately for entertaining and beloved for family dinner.

  • Author's avatar image
    Kathy Urbano

    Wow when I saw this recipe I had to make it that day! My Grandfather who was born in Italy used to make a similar meatball. These were fantastic…can't wait to make these again. The flavor was so magnificent and they were actually very easy to make. Great heated up the next day too. Thank you!

  • Author's avatar image
    Jennifer Troisi

    This was amazing. I actually had everything I needed the day I read the recipe. The pesto just topped it off. Just another great recipe from Giada

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