Food Zone Recipe: Meatballs & Red Wine Sauce

This is a one-pot dinner recipe to make you famous among your friends.

Dr. Allen Lim is a sports physiologist who has worked with the biggest riders in professional cycling. One of his most influential contributions to the sport has been changing how the traditionally pasta-fueled peloton thinks about food.

Lim and professional chef Biju Thomas tested hundreds of recipes with Tour de France cyclists to find out what worked: what was easy to make, delicious to eat, and friendly to high performance. They share their favorite dishes in The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes, now available from VeloPress.

As we near the fall marathon season, Competitor is pleased to release some favorite recipes to help you fuel your morning runs, recover from each workout, and fuel up for tomorrow. Check back every Tuesday for a new healthy, delicious and useful recipe. 


TIME: 1½ hours

This is a one-pot dinner recipe to make you famous among your friends. Make sure your pot is large enough. It’s really a three-step process: First make and brown the meatballs. Then, in the same pot, make the sauce. Last, return the meatballs to the sauce to stew while you revel in your kitchen skills. 


1 pound ground beef

1 pound spicy Italian bulk sausage

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons grated parmesan

1 cup bread crumbs (see note below)

dry basil leaves and red pepper flakes

¼ cup olive oil


½ cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons minced garlic

½ cup diced bell peppers

½ cup diced fresh tomato

1 small can (4 ounces) tomato paste

1 cup water

1 cup crushed tomatoes

½ cup red wine

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

chopped fresh parsley and basil

To make the meatballs: Place ingredients in a large bowl and blend together by hand, making sure that bread crumbs are worked evenly into mixture. Let rest in fridge for 30 minutes. Shape to be the size of golf balls.

Bring ¼ cup olive oil to medium-high heat in a large pot, then add a few meatballs and brown them on all sides. Remove them from the pot as they finish browning, adding more oil as needed. (The meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce.)

To make the sauce: Keeping the heat on medium, add the onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes to the pot and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients in the order shown, thoroughly incorporating each item into the sauce before adding the next.

Keep scraping the bottom of the pan while the sauce cooks. Bring sauce to a low boil, then return the meatballs to the pot. Let simmer, covered, until cooked thoroughly, approximately 30–40 minutes. Adjust salt.

Makes 12 meatballs. Serve with your favorite pasta.

NOTE: To make bread crumbs, pulse stale or hard bread in a food processor.

PER SERVING (2 meatballs & sauce): Energy 449 cal • Fat 27 g • Sodium 748 mg • Carbs 15 g • Fiber 2 g • Protein 33 g

This recipe from The Feed Zone Cookbook used with permission of VeloPress. The Feed Zone Cookbook features 160 athlete-friendly recipes that are simple, delicious, and ready to go. For more sample recipes, please visit