Meatballs are not only a tasty meal, they’re also a great way for your child to practise his maths skills and learn about fractions: in this recipe, you have to divide the mixture for the meatballs into eight equal pieces. It’s a good idea to make all the meatballs the same size, so that they will cook evenly in the pan. Rigatoni is a tube-shaped pasta with ridges around the outside, but you could use penne, fusilli or any other short types of pasta for this recipe if you prefer.
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 garlic clove
400g (14oz) minced beef or 200g each (7oz) of minced pork and beef
Freshly ground black pepper
1 free-range egg
Handful of plain flour, for dusting
1 celery stick
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small sprig fresh rosemary
500ml (18fl oz) tomato passata
400g (14oz) rigatoni pasta
25g (1oz) Parmesan
1. Using scissors, snip the parsley into small pieces. Crush the garlic. Put the minced meat into a large bowl, add the parsley and garlic and season with freshly ground black pepper.
2. Crack the egg into a small bowl, and add to the meat.
3. Put your hands into the mixture and mix everything together.
4. Divide the meatball mixture first in half, then into quarters and then into eighths.
5. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 8 equally sized balls.
6. Sprinkle the flour onto a plate and then dip each meatball into the flour to coat. Put the meatballs on a plate and into the fridge.
7. Chop the onion, celery and carrot into small pieces.
8. Put the oil into a heavy-based pan, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then with a wooden spoon.
9. Push the carrot, onion and celery mixture to the sides of the pan, then add the meatballs and cook for another 5 minutes without moving the meatballs.
10. Carefully turn the meatballs over so that they brown, making sure they don’t fall apart. Add the rosemary and passata and cook gently over a low heat for about 40 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
11. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then cook the rigatoni according to the packet instructions.
12. Divide the pasta among your serving bowls. Throw away the rosemary stalk and ladle the meatballs and passata sauce on top. Grate the Parmesan and sprinkle it over the top.
Adapted from The Silver Spoon For Children by Amanda Grant (Phaidon, £12.95).