Cooking with kids: Meatballs in tomato sauce

This is a fun, hands-on recipe for the whole family! Scale up or down according to how many mouths you have to feed – this serves around 4.


  • 400 grams minced beef or pork or half-and-half
  • 4 slices stale white bread or breadcrumbs
  • splash of milk
  • 1 courgette
  • mustard
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan or pecorino cheese (or even just cheddar will do!)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • optional: splash of red wine, dried chilli flakes, herbs like oregano or basil
  • something to serve your meatballs with: spaghetti, rice or your pasta of choice


For the tomato sauce:
  • finely dice 1 onion and sweat in a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan big enough to hold all the sauce
  • finely dice 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the pan with the onion – sweat for a couple more minutes until everything starts to turn a bit translucent
  • add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes – rinse out the tins with a bit of water or wine so you get every last bit of tomato in the pan
  • add a large pinch of salt, sugar and pepper (optional at this point: chilli flakes, oregano or basil)
  • bring up to a simmer, and let it bubble slowly away while you make the meatballs….
For the meatballs:
  • in a large bowl, tear up a slice or two of white stale bread, or use breadcrumbs
  • add just enough milk to make the bread go mushy – give it a squidge about with your fingers to break it up
  • add minced beef/pork – I used about 300g (think Kate used 500g)
  • grate half a large courgette (or a whole baby one) and add to the bowl
  • grate around 3 tablespoons of cheese (parmesan, pecorino, cheddar, etc) and add to the bowl
  • add a tablespoon of mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • add a raw egg and mix everything together with your hands
  • roll the mixture into golfball-sized blobs and put on a plate or tray – lightly dust with flour
  • heat a large frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil
  • fry off the meatballs, gently turning them every few minutes with tongs, until they’re browned on all sides
  • spoon your tomato sauce over and around the meatballs – do it carefully so they don’t break up
  • let everything simmer for about 15 mins until the meatballs are cooked through
  • in the meantime, cook your spaghetti in lots of boiling water
  • … and serve!

meatballs recipe


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