Juicy meatballs with hidden veg, served in a tomato and pepper sauce with gooey melted cheese. These Hidden Veg Meatballs are a great way to get the kids eating more veg without them knowing (or at least complaining too much)!
My kids claim they don’t like courgette, mushrooms and onion, but that doesn’t stop them from eating these meatballs with sighs of pleasure.
If there’s one thing I love in life, it’s fooling my kids into eating their veg.
I don’t know why getting one over on them is so much fun, but now I think about it, I do seem to spend a fair amount of my time either fooling, fibbing or bribing them.
Kids: ‘These meatballs are yummy mummy, what’re they made of?’
Me:‘erm, I’ll tell you later – eat them all up first’.
Kids: ‘What’re those green speckles in them?’ (the courgette)
Me: ‘Just a few herbs to give them flavour’
Kids: ‘Can I have another meatball mummy?’
Me: ‘Yes of course, I’ll pay you a meatball for emptying the dishwasher for me’.
Kids: ‘two meatballs’
Oh dear, that was fooling, fibbing and bribery all in the same conversation.
I’m expecting my mother of the year award very soon….
Coming back to the meatballs, they feel like hearty, not-very-good-for-you comfort food. But they’re healthy! Yes, there’s cheese in there, but I use reduced fat cheese (the low fat mozzarella still stretches nicely).
I’ll sometimes serve it with a mix of courgette spaghetti and regular spaghetti to make it even lighter, and it still goes down just as well (I could never forego my regular pasta completely, courgette spaghetti is great, but it is NOT real spaghetti).
Do you fib to your kids to get them to eat things they say they don’t like?
Anything I can use? 😀
The Hidden Veg Meatballs Recipe:
Hidden Veg Meatballs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250 g lean pork mince/ground pork
- 500 g lean minced beef/ground beef
- 1 small grated courgette/zucchini
- 4 mushrooms finely chopped
- 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ tsp of salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
- 1 red pepper finely chopped
- 800 g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree check for gluten free if required
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 140 g 5oz mozzarella, roughly torn (I used reduced fat)
- 75 g 2.5oz cheddar, grated/shredded (I used reduced fat)
- 75 g dry weight - of spaghetti per person (use gluten free if required)
- Grated parmesan and a bit of parsley or basil to serve
- Preheat the over to 200C/400F.
- Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Squash it all together but don’t overmix as this will make the meatballs tough. Shape the meatballs into little balls – the size of a golf ball – and place them on a baking tray. Put in the oven for about 20-25 mins. Keep an eye on them toward the end of the cooking time and turn the oven down a little if they start going too dark. They will seep a little in the oven due to the moisture in the courgette (but they’ll still taste great).
- Whilst the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Fry the onions in the olive oil on a low heat for about 5 mins. Add the garlic, and red pepper and cook for another couple of mins.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, sugar and salt and pepper to the sauce and let it bubble until the meatballs are ready, then take the cooked meatballs out of the oven and add them to the tomato sauce (leave the oven on). Sprinkle the mozzarella and cheddar on top and place back in the oven for 15-20 mins until the cheese is melted and golden (you can put your spaghetti on to cook at this point)
- Drain the spaghetti and serve with the pan of meatballs (I usually serve 4 meatballs per adult and 2-3 for children) and garnish with some grated parmesan and parsley or basil.
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