Tuesday 19 June 2012

Meatballs for babies, toddlers and adults

Meatballs are a fantastic kids food and a great way to hide some vegetables for the reluctant vegetable eater.  There's no getting away from mess with meatballs, especially with babies but they are great finger foods if you're feeling brave!

The observant will notice I've posted a meatball recipe before but I've improved the flavour, changed it and made it easier.  The old one was a labour of love taking about 3 hours from start to finish (including making the sauce) but this is easier, nearer an hours commitment and requires no blender to make which is great considering my blender has gone to silicon heaven.  What with no decent camera this week either I'm not doing well on the electrical front!
Meatballs - makes easily enough for 2 adults, 2 children and plenty of leftovers (freezes very well)


1 lb, 454g sausages, I am a firm believer in using good sausages.  Garlicky sausages would be good.  (Use wheat / gluten free if following a gluten free diet.)
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
A generous 1lb, 500g Minced beef
1 Courgette (Zucchini), grated
1 tsp paprika
Herbs; I used 2 sprigs rosemary, sprig thyme, sprig oregano
A few grindings of pepper
Olive oil

1 to 1 and a half 500g cartons of passata


Squeeze the sausages out of the skins into a bowl with the grated courgette.  Add in the garlic, paprika, chopped herbs, pepper and beef.

Get stuck in with your hands and squidge all of the meaty mix together.  Roll up into balls, my preference is for small balls a bit smaller than a walnut but you can do whatever size you like.  Roll up into balls of your preferred size and put onto plates putting in the fridge while you work through the mix.

When you're ready, put some oil into a non stick pan and fry the balls in batches to brown.  I should warn you that unless your pan is non stick, you will lose a few as they'll break up a bit.  Unfortunately my frying pan has also seen better days.  These are the trials and tribulations of someone who cooks a lot, things do wear out.

Get a large saucepan on a low heat, pour a little bit of passata into the bottom and add in the browned meatballs in a layer.  Continue to build up the layer adding a bit more passata after you've made a layer.    Continue to do this until you've browned all of the meatballs and layered up.  Don't add too much passata, you will only need 500-700g or so.

When they're all layered up, cook on a low heat with the lid on undisturbed for 15 mins or so and then with the lid off for a further 15 mins.  Don't stir them in the first part of the cooking time as you don't want them to break up but as soon as they're cooked through, they're pretty sturdy.

Serve.  I like these as they are with grated cheese and salad but you can serve with pasta, mix in pasta, top with cheese and bake for a meatball pasta bake or even in a sub!  Delicious!  A hit with my son and also a friend's 6 year old who had come to stay.  Result!

If you're on a gluten free diet, just use gluten free sausages.  Most meatball recipes contain bread to lighten the mix but I've used courgette instead which not only increases the vegetable content but also is useful for people with specific dietary needs.  Also many meatball recipes include cheese or egg to bind so this is a great recipe for those who have to restrict the kind of foods they eat without feeling hard done by.  In fact, I didn't write this recipe intending it to be good for restricted diets, I wrote it because it tastes nice!


  1. Oh thanks I've never considered adding veg into the meatballs.

    1. Strangely I first thought of it years ago when trying a low carb diet (didn't work, don't bother) as traditionally meatballs often contain bread. Better I think though and a sneaky way to get that veg in!

  2. They look great! I love if you could link up again. I miss my UK blogger!

    1. Sorry! Will do! This week has been a bit crazy, I was up for a blogging award so went to London (unfortunately I didn't win) and then yesterday I was back home to do the "Race for Life" which is a 5K (just over 3 mile) run cross country for cancer research. I'm also starting a second job today but hopefully by tonight normal service will resume!


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