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A saucepan with meatballs and sauce by a serving bowl with spaghetti

Toddler recipe: Batch-cook mini pork & veg balls

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • Easy
  • Makes 6-8 toddler portions or 2 adults' + 1-2 kids' portions

Try these toddler-friendly meatballs with tasty tomato sauce for your little one. Batch-cook and freeze them for easy, healthy dinners when you're busy

  • Freezable
  • Healthy
Nutrition: Per toddler serving, without pasta and cheese
HighlightNutrientUnit
kcal145
low infat5g
saturates1g
carbs8g
sugars6g
fibre2g
protein16g
salt0.28g
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Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion , chopped
  • 1 slice wholemeal bread , torn into chunks
  • 1 carrot , cut into chunks
  • 1 celery stick, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper , cut into chunks
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 1 egg

For the sauce

  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , crushed
  • 2 x 390g cartons passata
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • fresh basil or parsley, chopped (optional)
  • cooked spaghetti and grated cheese, to serve

Method

  • STEP 1

    Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Heat 2 tsp rapeseed oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 5-10 mins until softened. Blitz the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs. Add the cooked onion, carrot, celery and peppers and pulse until finely chopped. You may need to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the pork, egg and a little black pepper, then pulse to combine.

  • STEP 2

    Divide the mixture in half. Shape half into small meatballs about the size of large marbles and arrange on a baking tray lined with foil. Shape the rest into golf-ball-sized meatballs. Arrange on a lined tray and open freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and save for another meal. Now bake the mini meatballs for 25 mins or until browned and cooked through.

  • STEP 3

    Meanwhile, make the sauce. Using the same pan that you cooked the onion in, heat the 1 tsp oil, add the garlic and cook for 2 mins. Pour in the passata, add the thyme and sugar. Simmer for 5-10 mins. Gently stir the meatballs and any juices into the sauce and heat through for a few mins. Stir the meatballs through the spaghetti and serve with grated cheese.

RECIPE TIPS
GETTING AHEAD
As lean pork mince is not readily available in 250g packs, here we suggest making extra meatballs. You can easily double the sauce too if you really want to get ahead – freeze this separately in a sealed container.
DEFROST AND COOK
To cook the raw meatballs, thoroughly defrost on a foil-lined tray in the fridge and cook at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 15-20 mins until cooked through. Heat the sauce on the hob and add in the meatballs as above. You can freeze the cooked mini-meatballs in the sauce in portions. Defrost thoroughly and reheat in the microwave, or on the hob, until piping hot throughout. Allow to cool for at least 5 mins before serving to a child.

Goes well with

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A star rating of 4.7 out of 5.3 ratings
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