Turkey meatballs with spaghetti

By Annabel Karmel, June 13, 2008

Feeding children can be one of the most frustrating aspects of child-rearing. We all start off with good intentions; a lot of parents end up having to make a separate meal for their child because all they want is Bob the Builder spaghetti. What we need are recipes that appeal to the whole family. This one should suit all tastes.

The meatballs are delicious made from chicken or beef instead of turkey, and they make good finger food served on their own. I often find that children are more tempted to eat food that they can pick up with their fingers. The apple gives the meatballs a good flavour and keeps them moist.

The tomato sauce is good with pasta on its own and for adults you can add more chilli flakes or chopped red chilli. This is suitable for freezing — freeze the meatballs in the sauce and cook the spaghetti fresh.

Annabel Karmel is has written 16 books on feeding babies, children and families, including Favourite Family Recipes, published by Ebury. Visit www.annabelkarmel.com.

MAKES 4 PORTIONS (2 adults and 2 children)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions finely chopped (approx 200g unpeeled weight )
40g fresh white breadcrumbs (approx 2 slices)
50 ml well diluted chicken stock
250g turkey or chicken mince
1 small apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp flour to dust hands
3 tbsp sunflower oil for frying

Use half the onion from above
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
100 ml water / chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp oregano
pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

200g spaghetti
a little chopped basil (optional)


  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions gently for about 10 minutes until softened.  Use half the onions for the meatballs and half for the tomato sauce.
  • Soak the breadcrumbs in the stock or water for 5 minutes in a large bowl.
  • To make the sauce, transfer half the sautéed onion to a pan. Add the crushed garlic and sauté for one minute. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer covered for 7 minutes.
  • To make the meatballs, add the mince, grated apple, thyme, sautéed onion, salt and pepper to the soaked breadcrumbs and mix.
  • Using floured hands, form teaspoons of the mixture into small balls. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and brown the meatballs.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the pan of tomato sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes uncovered.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions.  Drain and toss with the sauce.  Sprinkle with a little chopped basil if you like.
Last updated: 1:38pm, June 17 2008