One-bake, Mega Meatballs with Secret Veg Sauce
This gorgeous, cheesy-stringy, comfort dish is quick, easy and packed with veg for a delicious and healthy family feast. Great for feeding a hungry crowd or as an easy freezer filler.
Recipes like this, which contain ‘hidden veg’ are a life saver if you’ve been blessed with one of those pesky picked eaters.
You can make your own homemade passata (recipe below) or buy a decent jarred variety to save a bit of time. We blend this with butternut, carrots, celery to add some lovely extra veg and taste.
The meatballs feature fennel, carrot, oregano and flaxseed, and get baked together with roasted red peppers, mozzarella and mascarpone.
Rich & Source of Nutritional Benefits
Slow-cooked veggies in this dish are the perfect way to sneak in at least a couple of your 5-a-day.
How to make it
TURN ON THE HEAT
Preheat the oven
180°C / 356°F (fan)
200°C / 392°F (conventional)
CREATE THE MEGA MEATBALLS
Blending and making the meatballs is a great opportunity to get the kids involved.
In food processor, blend all the ingredients from step 1.
Add in both meats from step 2 and blend again.
You want a chunk free consistency.
1 onion, roughy chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, medium
1 tbsp flax seeds (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
100 g fresh breadcrumbs*
2 tbsp olive oil
250 g lean beef mince
250 g lean pork mince
MAKE THE BALLS
Shape the meat into 20 meatballs. (Golf ball size, around 40g each.)
Place a large saucepan or oven proof pot over a medium-low heat.
Pour in 2 tbsp of olive oil.
Fry the meatballs until browned on the top and bottom.
Keep an eye on them. This should take no longer than 5 minute.
Remove from the pan and set aside.
Turn off the heat.
MAKE THE PASSATA
In a high speed blender, blend all the ingredients from step 3.
150 g passata
100 g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery stick, small, roughly chopped
START THE SAUCE
Over a medium heat, add the onions and garlic to the pan you used to cook the meatballs.
Cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add in the passata juice and all other ingredients from step 4.
Bring to a simmer and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
You want the sauce to reduce and thicken.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 chicken or beef stock cube
400 g tin chopped tomatoes**
250 g passata
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
CREATE THE FINAL BAKE
Add the meatballs and any juices.
Place in the peppers.
Sprinkle over the mozzarella and dollop on the mascarpone.
Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered in the oven.
The bake in finished when the cheese is golden brown, and the sauce bubbling hot.
Remove from the oven (carefully).
Allow to cool slightly before dishing up.
200 g roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
150 g mozzarella, finely chopped
50 g mascarpone*** (4 dollops)
Crabtree Farm tips
Passata is the multi-purpose tomato purée that every aspiring Italian cook should learn how to make. It’s quick and easy and great to have in stock for all sorts of meat, fish and pasta recipes. Heres how to make your own Passata.