Cooking with children is a great way to help them to develop a healthy relationship with food. When they’re young they don’t have to be involved from start to finish – just the fun messy bits that they’ll enjoy! This recipe for lentil and beef meatballs with pasta is a healthy one pan meal that the kids can help make, and that the whole family can enjoy. Give it a go!
400g can green lentils, drained
400g good quality beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
400g small pasta shapes, like orzo or macaroni
30g Parmesan or other hard cheese
(Optional) fresh parsley to serve
Start by chopping all of the vegetables before making your meatballs.
In a bowl add the mince, lentils, mixed herbs and season. Then squash and combine the mixture (get the kids involved! They can’t break it!) until it become smoother. You want to really work the mixture to mash it all together so that the meatballs don’t break apart when cooking.
Form meatballs the size of a ping pong ball and add to a large high sided cold casserole pan. Once they have all been shaped, put the pan onto a medium high heat, and brown the meatballs on 2/3 sides. You may need to cook them in batches. Don’t move them too quickly!
When they have coloured nicely remove from the pan to a plate, turn the heat down to medium and add the veggies. Gently sweat off for 4-6 mins, then add the tomato puree. Add the chopped toms, rinse out the can and fill with hot water and add to the mixture. Stir in the pasta and then add the meatballs back in.
Simmer with the lid on gently for 12-15 mins or until the orzo is cooked ( you can top up with water if needed).
Serve with a generous grating of cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.