Healthy Meatball Marinara Recipe
Good food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, or expensive. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not calorie-obsessed or remotely slim (and getting further and further from that goal every day), but I do like to shave off some fat here and there in order to thoroughly enjoy my cheese, wine and dollops of Nutella every once in a while!
In order to do this, I often substitute ingredients for healthier versions, such as creme fraiche for cream, turkey mince for beef mince and brown pasta for white pasta. Because I don’t hold back on flavour (I have a spice fixation!) I don’t really notice the difference, and neither do my family.
This dish is an example of a fairly low-cal and relatively cheap version of an old family favourite. I’m quite sure the recipe’s not remotely orthodox, but it’s the way I’ve always made it, and it goes down very, very well in our house.
In terms of cost, Tesco have just reduced their turkey mince to €3.55 per pack, and the passata is just 55c in Lidl. Everything else is pretty reasonable too, so basically last week lunches for the week for boyfriend and I cost approx €12. Plus the remainder of the sauce went on homemade pizzas. Which were not at all healthy. But that’s another story…
- 2 packs Turkey Mince (approx 800g)
- 1 egg, beaten + 1 slice brown bread
- 2 garlic cloves, minced + 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp pesto + 1 tsp black pepper + ½ tsp paprika
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
- 3 garlic cloves, minced + 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ pint red wine + ½ tub crème fraîche + 3 500g tetrapaks passata
- 6 tomatoes, halved (on the vine if possible) + 1 red pepper, sliced + 2 green chilli, deseeded & diced
- 2 glugs olive oil + 1tbsp pesto
- 1 tsp black pepper + 1 tsp oregano + handful fresh basil leaves
- Wholewheat spaghetti & wholegrain bread, to serve
- Arrange tomatoes and pepper on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and pop into pre-heated oven at around 200C for 15-20 minutes, or until edges begin to blacken.
- Blitz brown bread in a food processer with the pesto to stay moist.
- Put turkey mince in large bowl, adding the bread/pesto mixture, egg, garlic, paprika and black pepper.
- Mix well with your hands and roll into golf-ball sized meatballs. Arrange on a plate and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Meanwhile, get cracking on the marinara sauce. Heat glug of olive oil in heavy-based pot and add onion, then garlic cloves, browning both off.
- Deglaze with the red wine and then add passata, roasted tomato/pepper, oregano and black pepper. Reduce heat and leave to simmer while you cook the meatballs.
- In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the glug of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the meatballs in batches, cooking slowly and browning on all sides (some people prefer to do this in the oven, as it requires much less attention and effort).
- When cooked, add to pot of marinara sauce and allow to simmer for half an hour. When reasonably cool, stir in creme fraiche. Blitz with hand-held food processor thingie if you like the sauce smooth, leave off if you prefer chunky.
- Cook brown spaghetti al dente, arrange on plates and top with meatballs, garnished with basil leaves. Serve with crusty brown bread and a good glass of Chianti to restore some of those calories!
The recipe doesn’t require it, but I like to really slow-cook the sauce, allowing all the flavours to develop, over two hours or so. Because this is a rather time-consuming process I always make double and freeze the rest, for use in lasagnes, home-made pizzas or any quick pasta supper.