This simple recipe is one of my kids’ favorite dishes. I love making it on busy weekdays and I’m always thrilled to see my kids happily empty their dishes and ask for more.
Actually, you can hardly call this dish a recipe as it’s more like a “throw-a-few-good-ingredients-together”-dish. But even the most passionate home cooks needs a few of these up their sleeve, don’t you think?
Make sure to make double batches and freeze half of it for another busy day.
The trick is to find a good butcher who sells small meatballs of good quality. I buy these from the number one supermarket chain here in The Netherlands. They’re small - which is good because they’re cooked through in 5-10 minutes - and they’re organic which I personally find a condition sine qua non.
But of course, if you’re not so short on time you can easily make your own meatballs by mixing ground beef/veal with an egg, onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper. I never add breadcrumbs to my meatballs but sometimes I add some almond meal as a substitute.
(Sugar-free) tomato sauce
The second trick is to use a good quality store-bought tomato sauce. Prefer organic, bottled (not canned), and carefully read the label to make sure it is free from added sugar. For my Dutch readers, I buy this one from Ekoplaza.
And again, feel free to make your own if you have time ;-).
I like to add a zucchini to this dish for its extra nutrients. It doesn’t alter the taste and when finely grated my kids don’t even notice it.
With rice, pasta, or quinoa
This dish is balanced on its own but can be served with black or whole rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta.
- About 16 small organic meatballs, store-bought or homemade*
- About 700 g (25 oz.) organic tomato sauce, store-bought (watch out for hidden sugar!), or homemade
- 1 large zucchini, shredded
- 150 g (5.3 oz.) parmesan, grated
- 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
*For instance these homemade ricotta meatballs.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C-400°F.
- Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet and bake the meatballs on all sides for 5-10 minutes. They don’t need to be totally cooked through, nor should they be totally raw on the inside.
- Set the meatballs aside.
- Using the same skillet, bake the shredded zucchini for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the tomato sauce and meatballs and stir to combine.
- Pour the content of the skillet in an oven dish. Top with the shredded parmesan and bake for about 15 minutes until a crust forms.
- Serve hot with black or brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta.