spaghetti and meatballs

I posted this photo of my spaghetti and meatballs on Instagram the other day and made everyone hungry. Hah, so humble, me. No really, so many people liked it, but I wonder if they’d still like it if they knew these were healthy baked meatballs with hidden veggies?

I suspect the mums are all like YEAHHHH and everyone else just closed this window.

Anyway, a couple of people asked for the recipe and I actually don’t have a proper recipe per se for these meatballs. I started making them about four years ago when Sam was into finger foods. I made these teeny tiny meatballs – for real, instead of rolling 15 regular sized balls, I would make 40 mini balls – and he absolutely loved them. And because I was making it for a kid, well, hidden veggies! I never measured anything, it’s all just a bit of this and a bit of that, but they always turned out great.

They really are tasty though, I kid you not, and I often make batches now to freeze. They taste great on their own fresh, but if I’m making spaghetti and meatballs, I prefer to use ones that I’ve frozen as I find they hold their form better.

This is what they look like fresh from the oven. Yep, you can see the veggies there, but cover it in sauce and hey presto!

healthy baked meatballs

So anyway, since people asked for the recipe, I made a batch the other day and actually measured stuff. So here you go!

Healthy baked meatballs for spaghetti and meatballs
500g mince beef (extra lean if possible)
1 carrot, grated
1/2 onion, chopped very finely or grated
Big handful of spinach, chopped very finely
140g tub of tomato paste (I use the no added salt)
1 cup grated cheese (regular Tasty cheese)
2 eggs
1/2 cup linseed/flaxseed meal
If you’re making spaghetti and meatballs:
250g spaghetti noodles (I use Barilla #3 or #5)
500g pasta sauce (I use Dolmio Extra Garden Vegetables)
1/2 onion, chopped finely
Handful of spinach, chopped finely
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/355°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and mix with your hands until everything is well combined. The linseed meal works as a drying agent to the eggs so if it feels too wet, add more meal but 1/2 cup should be about right.
  3. Roll 2-inch balls tightly with your hands and place on a baking sheet on a baking tray about an inch apart.
  4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Once done, allow to stand for 2-3 minutes before serving or until cool before freezing.
  5. If you’re making spaghetti and meatballs, bring a large pot of water to boil and add the spaghetti noodles. Stir occasionally until cooked (al dente), drain immediately.
  6. In a shallow pan, brown the onions. Add the spinach, which will wilt very quickly. Once wilted, add the pasta sauce and when the pasta sauce is hot, carefully add 7-8 meatballs to the sauce without breaking them. If you’re using frozen meatballs, make sure they are fully defrosted before adding to the sauce. Let the meatballs and sauce simmer to a low boil, and the sauce is ready.
  7. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce and mix through.
  8. Serve with grated parmesan cheese if you have any (I didn’t! So sad!).
Makes 15 meatballs. 7-8 meatballs serves 4 spaghetti and meatball dishes.

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