Time: 20 minutes + 30 minutes cooking
When Hannah was little and still mainly eating finger foods I used to turn loads of things into balls or sticks so she could feed herself. Now Lewis is at that age I’m rediscovering those old favourites. This recipe is for a fairly simple version of meatballs but you can mix it up a bit and use different meats in it or add some spices and serve with cous cous instead of pasta.
For the meatballs:
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
500g mince (beef, pork or a mixture of the two)
a small onion (or 1/2 a large one)
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp parsley
For the sauce:
1 small onion (or half a large one)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Caster sugar
2 tsp rosemary
1 tbsp parsley
Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl
Pop the mince and breadcrumbs (2 tbsp)in a bowl. We already had some breadcrumbs – we made way too much the other day when we made chicken nuggets so I put the extra in the freezer. If you don’t have any fresh, make some from one slice of bread.
Get your toddler to crack in the egg, or break it into a separate bowl first if you’re worried about rogue egg shell.
Get your toddler to help you peel the onion, then chop it up really finely (or grate it), then get your child to add it into the bowl.
Add in the herbs. You can add any flavours you like, and you don’t have to be too accurate about quantities – Hannah just poured in the basil and parsley.
Make the meatballs
Prepare a baking tray by lining it with grease proof paper. (You could, alternatively fry them in a little oil). I prefer to bake them as I find you don’t have to keep such a close eye on them and they don’t break apart at all, which can happen if you fry them.
Once everything is in the bowl, stick your hands in and give it a good mix. Hannah really enjoyed this part!
When everything has come together, start taking small bits of the mixture and rolling them into balls. Put them on to your baking tray. If your little one helps you make balls, just watch that they are all roughly the same size as you need them to cook at the same rate.
Drizzle them with a little oil then put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Make the sauce
You could use a jar of sauce or make your own – we did ours from scratch this time.
First, chop your onion then heat in a frying pan with a little oil. Once they’ve softened and turned lightly golden (about 7 minutes) add the garlic and herbs. If you’re using a garlic crusher see if your little one can squeeze it in the pan for you.
Add the tomatoes and sugar then leave to simmer until it’s reduced and thickened a little.
Once the sauce is ready, add the meatballs and give it a stir. Serve with some pasta.