When I had my second child, I had a wonderful bunch of friends around me who would drop off meals for my family and me in the first few weeks of arriving home with my new baby. In case you’re wondering, home cooked meals would be without a doubt one of the best presents for a mother with a newborn! One of the many delicious meals gifted to me was this recipe of summer meatballs which went down an absolute treat in our house, Guillaume and I loved it and our eldest child, who was a toddler at the time, couldn’t get enough. I asked my friend for the recipe and it’s since become a favourite for our family. An added bonus, and always a winner for busy families is that this recipe freezes well, so I tend to always cook double quantity.
While I’m not one for hiding vegetables for kids, the sauce has quite a few pureed in it which adds to the beautiful flavour and texture and also being great for parents that struggle getting vegies into their children’s little bellies.
This dish is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe published in Delicious Magazine. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do.
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
zest of ½ lemon
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
1tsp caster sugar
3 cups (750ml) tomato passata
½ cup (125ml) milk
Steamed basmati or spaghetti to serve
Nb: I’ve also made this recipe with all chicken mince or ¾ chicken ¼ pork and it’s worked just as well
250g chicken mince
250g pork mince
1 crushed garlic clove
1 beaten egg
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup chopped basil leaves
For the sauce, process onion, garlic, celery, carrot and lemon zest in a food processor until completely blended.
Heat oil to a large saucepan or French oven/casserole dish on a medium heat and add processed vegetables and cook for about 10 minutes or until they soften. Add passata, sugar and 2 cups (500ml) water. Cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes, then uncover and add the milk, cooking uncovered for a further 15 minutes.
To make the meatballs, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and thoroughly mix together with a fork or your hands.
Keep a bowl of water nearby to dampen your hands every so often to make it easier to roll the meatballs. Roll the mixture gently in hands approximately the size of rounded teaspoons and place them on a baking tray or plate. There should be about 50 meatballs.
Once sauce is ready, add the meatballs one at a time to the simmering pan of tomato sauce. Don’t stir with a spoon initially; just give the pan a quick shake to make room for more meatballs as you drop in each batch.
Partially cover the dish with a lid and simmer the meatballs and sauce over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a bowl and serve with either basmati rice or spaghetti.