Italian meatball bake with basil pesto and rice


Rich tomato sauce, sweetened with aubergine and ripe Romano peppers, and juicy grass-fed beef meatballs – there’s nothing about this dish the kids won’t love. Even the broccoli, dolloped with herby basil pesto, is moreish.


Serves: 4

Cook time: 45 mins



160g brown rice

1 aubergine

1 red onion

 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs

2 romano red peppers

2 tbsp oil

 360g Tenderstem broccoli

3 garlic cloves

4 tbsp basil pesto

500g beef mince

6 tbsp tomato puree

6 tomatoes




1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/ fan 200°C / gas mark 7, and boil a kettle.


2. Rinse the brown rice and place in a saucepan with 600ml boiling water and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer for 20-25 mins then drain.


3. Finely dice the red onion, peel and crush the garlic, de-seed and slice the romano peppers, cut the aubergine into 1.5cm pieces and trim the tenderstem broccoli. Finely dice the large tomatoes.


4. Add the beef mince, dried Italian herbs and half the onion and garlic to a large bowl and mix together. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Shape into 3cm sized meatballs and place on a tray lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for 12-15 mins or until cooked, then set aside to keep warm.


5. Heat a large non-stick pan with 2 tbsp oil on a medium heat. Add the remaining onion and cook for 3 mins until softening, then add the garlic, peppers and aubergine and cook further for 3-5 mins before adding the diced tomatoes, tomato puree and 200ml cold water. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 mins. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add the meatballs. Stir and simmer for a further 5 mins to warm through.


6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the tenderstem broccoli for 2-3 mins or until it has a slight bite, then drain.


7. To serve, spoon the rice, broccoli and meatballs onto four warm plates and top with the basil pesto.


449 calories, 53g carbs, 10g fag, 35g protein

Allergens: Nuts, Soya


Recipe courtesy of Mindful Chef

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