Lighter spaghetti & meatballs

Lighter spaghetti & meatballs

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(17 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 35 mins


Serves 4

Lentils make a low-fat addition to these minced pork patties for a healthier family favourite - still full of herby, garlicky flavour

Nutrition and extra info

  • meatballs and sauce only
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal473
  • fat11.6g
  • saturates2.8g
  • carbs60.6g
  • sugars7.6g
  • fibre8.8g
  • protein27.3g
  • salt0.4g
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  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
    Rapeseed oil

    Rapeseed oil

    If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…

  • 280g spaghetti

For the meatballs

  • 200g green lentils (well drained weight from a 400g can)



    The lentil plant (Lens Culinaris) originates from Asia and North Africa and is one of our oldest…

  • 250g lean minced pork (max 8% fat)
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
    Rapeseed oil

    Rapeseed oil

    If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine, halved
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped oregano, plus a few chopped leaves to garnish



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


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with 1 tsp oil. Mash the lentils in a bowl with the back of a fork to break down a bit, but not completely. Stir in the pork, rosemary, mustard, garlic, some pepper to generously season, and mix well with the fork to distribute the lentils evenly. Divide the mixture into 4. Form each quarter into 5 small balls – to give you 20 in total – squeezing the mixture together well as you shape it. Lay the meatballs on the foil and roll them around in the oil to coat all over. Bake for 15 mins until cooked and lightly browned. Remove (leave the oven on) and set aside.

  2. While the meatballs cook, heat 2 tsp of the oil for the sauce in a large non-stick frying pan. Tip in the shallots and garlic, and fry on a medium heat for 3-4 mins until softened and tinged brown. Pour in the remaining 1 tsp oil, lay the tomatoes in the pan so most of them are cut-side down (to help release the juices), raise the heat and fry them for 3-4 mins or until the tomatoes are starting to soften and release their juices. Don’t stir, or they may lose their shape. Splash in 125-150ml water so it all bubbles, and gently mix in the tomato purée. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 mins to create a juicy, chunky sauce. Season with the chilli flakes, oregano, pepper and a pinch of salt, and give it a quick stir, adding a drop more water if needed – you want it thick enough to coat the meatballs.

  3. Pour the sauce into a casserole dish, add the meatballs and spoon the sauce over them to coat. Cover with foil and bake for 10 mins while you cook the spaghetti.

  4. Boil a large saucepan of water. Add the spaghetti, stir and bring back to the boil. Cook for 10-12 mins, or following pack instructions, until al dente. Drain well, season with pepper and serve with the meatballs, sauce and a light sprinkling of oregano.

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Comments, questions and tips

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29th Oct, 2016
Made this for the family, children aged 3 and 8, it went down a treat. Quick, easy, healthy, enjoyed by everyone, what more could you want from a recipe? Definitely one to do again, I can see this becoming a family favourite. I changed the recipe for the sauce a bit, used passata instead of cherry tomatoes, left out the chilli, and added a pinch of sugar - delicious! Our 3 year old asked what the 'round things' were (lentils) and I asked her to taste them and tell me what she thought of them, thumbs up!
8th Apr, 2016
I found that using pork which was too low in fat (5%) made the meatballs a little dry. The flavour was good but I think next time I might try a slightly less lean type of mince.
7th Dec, 2015
Brilliant. Used this recipe to convince the kids that lentils are nice and there has been no looking back since.
17th Sep, 2015
Without doubt my favourite meatball recipe, although i do leave out the lentils. Delicious and easy to make
24th Apr, 2020
Can the minced pork be swapped for lean minced beef?
Esther_Deputyfoodeditor's picture
28th Apr, 2020
Hey, Esther from the food team here! you could indeed, although be aware that the nutrition will change. Thanks for your question!
24th Feb, 2019
Does the calories per portion include the spaghetti? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
7th Mar, 2019
Thanks for your question. Yes it does. Our recipes include all ingredients unless listed as 'to serve' or 'optional'.
KarenP@123's picture
27th Apr, 2017
Can these be frozen? And if so better before cooking or after?
goodfoodteam's picture
28th Apr, 2017
You can freeze the meatballs raw and the cooked sauce separately. If you're doing this you want to spread the meatballs out on the tray and pop in the freezer, then transfer to a freezer bag once frozen (so they don't stick together). Alternatively, freeze the cooked meatballs and sauce together. The blue star above our nutrition information indicates a recipe can be frozen. In some cases, like this recipe, there's also a bit of extra information. Hope this helps in future.
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