Monday, 10 June 2013

Tuna 'meatballs' for babies, toddlers and grown ups

Fish can be a hard sell for a lot of kids.  Partly it's flavour, then there's the bones and the look of it.  I was lucky though and for some unknown reason as soon as I had the chance to try fish, I loved it and ate it as much as I could.  I remember peeling prawns at the age of about 6 or 7.  I only hope I encourage my son to do the same because people who say "I don't like fish" are missing out.

We all know nowadays how important Omega 3 oils are in our diets and fish is a great source, especially oily fish like tuna.  Unfortunately unlike some other fish, tinned tuna doesn't have much in the way of Omega 3 but fresh or frozen does.  The great thing is about tuna is it does taste so meaty so if you really do have a reluctant fish eater on your hands, this could be the dish for you!

Tuna "meat"balls - serves 2 adults and 1 toddler


For the Meatballs
200g, Raw tuna (defrosted if frozen)
1 Clove garlic, grated finely
70g Fresh bread made into breadcrumbs
25g, 1 scant oz Extra Strong (sharp) Cheddar
1 tsp Pesto
Olive oil for frying

For the sauce
500g Passata
1 tsp Pesto
1/2 tsp sugar


Cut half of the tuna into a small dice, about 1/3 inch or a cm dice.  The remainder process in a food processor with the breadcrumbs, cheddar, garlic and pesto.

Mix the fish mix with the small chunks of tuna.  (By not processing it all it has a bit more texture.)  Form into balls and chill for a few minutes until they're all ready.

Start to form the sauce by pouring a small layer of passata into a saucepan.  Gently fry the tuna balls then once browned put them onto the layer of passata.  Once you've added all the balls, add in the rest of the passata, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so.  Check the tuna balls are cooked then add the sugar and remaining pesto to the sauce.

Serve with pasta.  My son was initially reluctant then once he tasted the balls, they all went!  Definitely a hit!

Make it Thrifty
Buy frozen raw tuna rather than chilled.  Although it should say on the pack or display if raw tuna has been defrosted, it almost always has been frozen and defrosted if bought in the UK.  By buying frozen you save yourself a small amount of money but perhaps more importantly it has a huge shelf life meaning if you don't get round to cooking it immediately it's not wasted.


  1. These sound lovely! My kids adore fish which is great. I hated fish as a child (thankfully grew out of that) so I am always astounded at my two devouring salmon. Often not sure what to do with fresh tuna - I will try these for sure. Natalie @ foodforlittlesouls

    1. I hope you like them! I grew up near a trout lake as a child and went on holiday to Greece so I was always destined to like fish!

  2. tuna meatballs - great idea!

    1. Thank you. I have to admit part of me was desperate to include a few anchovies somewhere (because I love anchovies) but the salt content was a worry.

      Still, I'm thinking about it. Maybe one :-)


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