Steve’s Veggie “Meatballs” & Courgetti
Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
For the veggie "meatballs":
60g white quinoa
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
splash of extra virgin olive oil
400g mushrooms, roughly chopped
handful of fresh herbs
handful of grated Parmesan
1 large egg, beaten
For the courgetti and sauce:
2 red onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium red pepper, roughly chopped
splash of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 (400g) tins of tomatoes
2 medium courgettes
Veg Portions / Serving: 2
Recipe donated by Steve Brown/POP for Veg Power. Food photography by Claire Wright | raisingsugarfreekids.com Portrait photography by David N Anderson | dnanderson.co.uk
Kwin-oa or keen-wah, who cares?! The main thing is, these little beauties are full of protein and keep you fuller for longer. The sauce is full of punch and the quick cook courgettes are fresh, crunchy and delicious! Although the mushrooms might originally put some people off, they are what gives this recipe it’s meatiness so go on, give them a go! These veggie “meatballs” & courgetti are modern take on meatballs, and a real favourite of ours and (sshhh… don’t tell anybody) but we like them even more than the original! Easy to batch cook and freeze, this is a low-cost, high impact meal that all of the family can enjoy. Happy cooking!
Start by cooking the quinoa. Pop the quinoa into a pan and add 150ml of water and some salt. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, turn down to low and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool – the quinoa should be sticky enough to form a ball when you squeeze it in your hand.
In a pan, fry the onions and garlic and add the mushrooms, cooking for 6-8 minutes over a high heat until golden. Mix the quinoa with the mushrooms, herbs, some salt & pepper, the grated Parmesan and beaten egg to bind. Lift spoonfuls of the mixture on to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C/160 C fan/gas 4, until golden.
To make the sauce, sweat the onions, garlic and red pepper with some oil, salt and pepper until soft. Add a splash of vinegar and honey and allow to bubble up before adding the tomatoes and boiling down until thick.
Finally, use a peeler to create long, thin strips of courgette (or use a spiraliser if you have one). Toss these in a pan with a little oil, salt and pepper until just softened. Pop the courgettes into a bowl and top with the meatballs, sauce and finish with grated Parmesan.
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
These meatballs are perfect for smaller hands to shape, and using a peeler to make long strips of courgette is simple and fun.
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.
Jeanette Orrey MBE