Cooking with kids: Spaghetti & meatballs with hidden veg sauce

Cooking with kids: Spaghetti & meatballs with hidden veg sauce

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(20 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 30 mins


Serves 6 (4 children, 2 adults)

Teach children how to make this pasta supper - it's a tasty family meal packed with nutrients

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal388
  • fat24.7g
  • saturates9.4g
  • carbs10.2g
  • sugars7.2g
  • fibre2.5g
  • protein31.3g
  • salt1.5g
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    For the meatballs

    • 300g good quality pork sausage (about 4 large or 8 chipolatas)
    • 500g lean beef mince
    • 1 small onion, coarsely grated



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • 1 carrot, finely grated



      The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

    • 1 tbsp dried oregano



      Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

    • 50g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve



      Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

    • 1 medium egg



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
      olive oil

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

      Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

    For the tomato sauce

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
      olive oil

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

      Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

    • 1 courgette, coarsely grated



      The courgette is a variety of cucurbit, which means it's from the same family as cucumber,…

    • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
    • 1 tbsp tomato purée
    • pinch caster sugar
    • splash red wine vinegar
    • 2x 400g tins chopped tomato

    To serve

    • cooked spaghetti


    1. Children: Squeeze all the sausage meat out of the sausage skins into a large bowl and add the mince. Tip all the rest of the meatball ingredients, except the olive oil, into the bowl and season with black pepper then squish everything together through your hands until completely mixed. Keep an eye on younger children to make sure they don’t taste any of the raw mix.

    2. Children: Roll the meatball mix into walnut-sized balls and place them on a plate – this is a job children as young as 2 can help with and a great job to help teach older children basic division.

    3. Grown ups: While the children are rolling the meatballs make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for 5 mins until soft and mushy. Stir in the tomato puree, sugar and vinegar leave for 1 min then tip in the tomatoes and simmer for 5 mins. If your children like courgettes then you can leave the sauce chunky. But if, like mine, they hate courgettes then blitz the sauce with a hand blender – either way continue to simmer sauce gently while you cook the meatballs. If your child is confident with heat, from 7+ they can cook the sauce with supervision.

    4. Grown ups: Heat the oil in a large frying pan and, working in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides then pop them into the sauce – continue to simmer the sauce for 15 mins, stirring very gently until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with cooked spaghetti, extra grated Parmesan and a few torn basil leaves your child has picked and torn.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    26th Jul, 2017
    My kids love making this, and they eat it without questioning what the green bit is, as they have prepared it themselves. The taste is great.
    4th May, 2017
    The method of this recipe was dissapointing. Don't get me wrong this dish is great tasting. But my kids did not appriciate the veg mixed in with meatballs. Next time will blend veg add to pan then add sauce elements.
    12th Oct, 2016
    My daughter and I cooked this together and we really had fun though it took us so long to finish it since, my 4-year-old has been so excited she thought it was pure play, she'd ran around with the utensils:) But the end result was amazingly successful I could say. She loved it specially the meatballs. It's very tasty and healthy and to make it even more healthier I used the bentilia pasta and everything came out well. My daughter enjoyed the food without knowing the hidden veggies. This recipe is indeed a must try and for sure this not going to be the first time.
    19th Sep, 2016
    My child loved the meatballs and she liked the sauce and pasta.
    12th Sep, 2016
    I made this with turkey mince for a super healthy meal, still very enjoyable and loved by all.
    29th Sep, 2014
    These meatballs are the tastiest I've ever eaten. My boys love them too! I haven't tried the sauce as I make my own but we all get very excited when I make these meatballs! Super delicious!
    Yabayee's picture
    17th Aug, 2014
    Gorgeous! My 1 and 2 year olds loved it, as did my hubby and me. I love that this caters for a larger family, and will no doubt be one I keep going back to as my family grows. The hidden veg in the meatballs add a wonderful moistness and texture, the sausage meat with the beef makes them very tender. The sauce was thick and delicious. I might cook it down a bit more next time and serve it in soft rolls with extra cheese as sloppy joes. Only thing I would warn is that batch frying the meatballs takes time. I might try doing them in the oven next time as one commenter suggested.
    14th May, 2014
    This was really tasty, however it was time consuming when involving a 3 and 4yr old! I will make them well in advance in future. Due to the amount of meatballs made, once browned I put them on a heated tray in the oven in batches. This not only ensured they were cooked through but also drained some of the fat away. They also then kept their shape when placed in the sauce. I took previous advice and blitzed the sauce to a smooth consistency which I thought worked well. Everyone really enjoyed it.
    28th Aug, 2013
    Really yummy. My son had two helpings of the meatballs and didn't even know he was eating courgette!
    28th Jun, 2013
    Made this recipe with my 7 year old, she really enjoyed making the meatballs and considering it was her first time cooking (with help) we were all really impressed with the results.A different sauce than i usually make but would definitely make it again!


    27th Dec, 2017
    Can I substitute the courgette for something else? It's not always available where I live.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    30th Dec, 2017
    Thanks for your question. You can leave the courgette out altogether or use an alternative vegetable such as carrot or celery. Chop them finely to ensure they cook sufficiently.
    1st Jan, 2017
    Do you freeze raw or cooked? Can I freeze without sauce?
    goodfoodteam's picture
    4th Jan, 2017
    Thanks for your question. You can freeze the raw meatballs and the sauce separately or together once cooked. If you're freezing the meatballs separately, space them out on a baking tray and open freeze to prevent them sticking together, then once frozen tip them into a freezer bag. Hope that helps.
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