Meatballs with a Hidden Veggie Tommie Sauce

Prep Time:40 mins, Cook Time: 20 mins, Total Time: 1 hour

April 30, 2015

Eat Your Veg | Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

We LOVE a meatball around here, well who doesn’t? There’s something supremely comforting about tucking into a (large) bowl of steaming homemade balls in tommie sauce, with oodles of pasta too of course. They’re definitely in Jacques Top 5 fave meals, in fact funnily enough all his fave’s contain pasta. Hence his recent super-hero naming of ‘Pasta Man’, ordinarily a pretty slow eater but give him pasta then Jacques literally inhales it. And these days it’s wholewheat pasta for us, which is a good deal better for you than the ordinary white stuff. Takes a little getting used to but I now prefer the nuttier taste and texture. And the kids didn’t even clock the difference.

Now standard meatballs are okay for you but not exactly screaming with healthy credentials. But my balls are made with lean pork and beef mince and get to bathe in a tommie sauce packed full of hidden veggies (namely grated carrot, pepper and courgette). AND even more amazingly you soooo wouldn’t know it, go on try it and report back. All the appearance, taste & texture of ordinary tommie sauce but much better for you. Bonus. In fact the sauce on it’s own is great with pasta, nevermind the balls. Unlike most meatball recipes, I don’t pre-bake mine, just had them raw to the tomato sauce and let them cook in the sauce. This makes for juicy meatballs and an uber-flavoursome sauce, just don’t be tempted to stir them around too much until they’re cooked or they’ll fall apart. This is a great recipe to make with kids of all ages too, my own Monsters have been moulding meatballs for a couple of years now. Older kids could prep and make the sauce too, just be careful with their use of graters.

hi_big_e_min_blueI’m actually going to be making these healthier balls with my after-school ‘Healthy Dinners Club’. A group of eight children, myself and an assistant spend a fun and manic hour and a half talking about healthy eating and prepping dinners together to take home for their entire families to tuck into and enjoy. Funded by the National Lottery ‘Awards for All’ it’s a fantastic club, and by it’s end next year I should have worked my way through the entire school of pupils, each receiving a series of five cook sessions. That’s a whole lot of healthy dinners!.

ciao-bambinoAs our current theme on Family Foodies is Italian, Ciao Bambino!, I shall of course be entering my sincerely inauthentic Italian Balls. Family Foodies is hosted by myself and Vanesther at Bangers and Mashfamily-foodies1





Eat Your Veg | Meatballs with Hidden Veggie Tomato Sauce

The Good Stuff:

Lean pork, lean beef, tomato passata, onion, garlic, courgette, carrot, peppers

Great For:

Toddlers, Big Kids, Grown Ups, Family Meals, Making with Kids, Hiding Veggies


Feeds a family of four heartily, makes about 12 meatballs.
For the highly veggie phobic blitz the sauce before adding the meatballs.

Special Equipment:

A large pan

Meatballs with a Hidden Veggie Tommie Sauce

Ingredients Prep Time:40 mins, Cook Time: 20 mins, Total Time: 1 hour

For the Meatballs:
200g lean pork mince
200g lean beef mince
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
30g Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch each of salt and pepper (no salt for babies or toddlers)

For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 courgette, grated
1 red pepper, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 680g jar tomato passata
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1 pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper (no salt for babies or toddlers)
pinch chilli flakes, optional

To Serve
Wholewheat pasta
grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

1. Start with making your meatballs. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and squish together with your (well washed) hands until very well combined.
2. Using your hands shape the mixture into 12 walnut sized balls, set aside until your ready to cook. Now wash your hands very well!
3. Prepare all the vegetables for the sauce, finely chop the onion and garlic. Grate the courgette, pepper and carrot.
4. Heat the olive oil for the sauce in a large saucepan or casserole dish. Fry the onion for 5 minutes.
5. Add the garlic, courgette, pepper and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
6. Stir in the tomato passata, then fill the jar 1/3 full with water. With the top on shake the jar and pour the water into the pan. Stir in oregano, Worcester sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and chilli flakes, if using. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
7. For the highly veggie-phobic you could now blitz the sauce with a hand held stick blender or in a food processor. I actually don’t bother as being grated the veggies are barely detectable.
8. Carefully spoon in the meatballs. Cover the saucepan and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to stir the balls until 15 minutes has passed as they need to firm up and cook.
9. Serve on a bed of (wholewheat) tagliatelle or spaghetti, with grated Parmesan or Grana Padano it’s cheaper sister.

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5 thoughts on “Meatballs with a Hidden Veggie Tommie Sauce

  1. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    I have similar problems having to hide vegetables… seems to be a funny balance. He’ll eat them if they’re big enough, he’ll eat stuff where it’s smooth. But anything diced in between, forget it. This looks like it would pass muster!

  2. Janice

    I love meatballs too, love how you have added the veggies. I need to find some good recipes for when the grandsons come round, I’m so out of practice at food for 2-5 year olds.

  3. Pingback: Ciao bambino! The Family Foodies Italian challenge | Bangers & Mash


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