We've been reading Bread and Jam for Frances. Frances decides she only like bread and jam and surprisingly her parents comply with her fussiness, providing only bread and jam for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Pretty soon Frances knows just how a jam jar feels (full of jam) and bursts into tears at the thought of one more meal of bread and jam (What I am/is tired of jam, she sings) and opts instead to eat spaghetti and meatballs.
Both my girls go through fussy phases and Una is in full throes of conservatism about food. The other day they had jam and bread for breakfast AND jam sandwiches for lunch, so after a few jokes about Frances I thought Una might be open to trying spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.
This was not a dish I ever had growing up, or not that I recall. We always had a good old Spag Bog. I believe the only other way we ate pasta was macaroni cheese, or buttered fat noodles alongside a piece of veal, or the old kid's standby, with butter and cheese (actually I probably had that when Mum and Dad cooked pasta to have with a casserole, I was something of a Frances myself).
The meatballs I made were delicious, and I thought I'd jot down the recipe before I forget. There are any number of recipes for meatballs on the internet, but hey. Here's one more.
Three slices of white sourdough bread (it was a commercial one as the girls have decided they only like spongy white bread, so again, very soft and I included some crust. However I would consider replace bread with wheat germ for a coarser meatball)
500g ish of beef mince (I used organic and it was very soft)
About a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
Rosemary and sage
Just after school I made the meatballs. I tore the bread up and sprinkled milk over it. Then using my hands mixed in the mince and egg (nothing like squishing yolk through your fingers). Oregano and pepper went in next, then I picked some rosemary in my garden (finally flourishing after two years of being a twiglet) and sage, diced the herbs with the anchovies and added the dijon and mixed it all in. Rolled up small balls which I baked for about twenty minutes on 180 degrees. I then set them aside. There was a slight taste of anchovy at this stage and I was a little concerned but it wasn't an issue by the time it was done; neither girl noticed it at any rate and I do think the anchovies were the secret ingredient. You could make up to this point and freeze, next time I might make a double batch.
Closer to dinner time, I arranged the meatballs in my Le Creuset (my mum gave me hers years ago and I LOVE it), poured a good quality bottled pasta sauce over the meatballs (yeah yeah, could totally make your own ye who are more holy than me), thinned it with a little water and put it on a low heat on the stovetop, covered, to cook while the water boiled. We had it with a high fibre (low GI) spaghetti and some steamed but still crunchy green beans and carrots and grated parmesan cheese.
We had enough left over meatballs (even after Martin went back for seconds) for Martin, Fred and I to have toasted meatball sandwiches the next day. Una couldn't quite come at that, but she did love them the first time round.
You could totally "hide" more veggies in this if you are That Parent. The girls actually eat heaps of raw veg in their lunchboxes and after school and if nothing else will scoff salad at dinner, so it's never been an issue for us. I am not a fan of concealing veggies because I think then they don't actually learn good habits or get to appreciate the tastes, colours and textures of a wide variety of vegetables. Plus it's not the way I like to eat. Still if you were looking to hide your veg, I suggest beefing up the pasta sauce with some pureed carrot and/or pumpkin, soft grilled peeled capsicum or grated zucchini rather than mucking with the texture of the meatballs.