In a large bowl combine egg, bread crumbs, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper. Add ground meat; mix well. Shape into 1-inch meatballs.
In a large skillet cook meatballs in hot oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown on all sides and cooked through (160 degrees F). Remove meatballs from skillet, reserving drippings for use in Lemony Vegetable Sauce. Cover meatballs and keep warm.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook vermicelli nests according to package directions, stirring snipped fennel leaves and lemon peel into cooking water. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer nests to a colander to drain. Meanwhile, prepare Lemony Vegetable Sauce.
To serve, divide vermicelli nests among dinner plates. Top with sauce and meatballs. If desired, garnish with fennel leaves.
Lemony Vegetable Sauce
Add olive oil to the reserved drippings in skillet used for cooking meatballs. Add carrots, onion, fennel, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and lemon peel.