Recipe: Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I love Italian food. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t, to be honest – there is such a wide range of dishes and flavours that marry so well together, and a Mediterranean diet has been found to be healthier than traditional British or American diets, so it makes sense that we’d want to get in on the act.

But what about when you’re trying to lose weight? What about all that pasta? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to avoid pasta on the Slimming World plan, which is awesome news for those of us who love Italian food!

Here’s my recipe for one of the most comforting Italian meals around – just like Mama used to make!

F = Free food (eat as much as you like)
S = Speed food (these should make up at least a third of your meal)
P = Protein free food (eat as much of these as you like!)
HEa = Healthy Extra A (a daily allowance of dairy produce)
HEb = Healthy Extra B (a daily allowance of a product with fibre)
# = a number denotes roughly how many syns are in foods used

11428194_10155648883955386_8997978461512232285_oITALIAN MEATBALLS IN TOMATO SAUCE
2 large servings (6 meatballs each), or 3 small servings (4 meatballs each)

For the meatballs:

  • 300g Less than 5% fat mince (P) (makes 12 meatballs)
  • Half an onion (S)
  • 1 clove garlic (S)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (F)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (F)
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs (F)

For the sauce:

  • Half an onion (S)
  • 1 clove garlic (S)
  • Half a courgette (S)
  • 1 yellow pepper (S)
  • 6 medium mushrooms (S)
  • 500 mls passata OR two cans chopped plum tomatoes (S)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (F)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (F)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (F)
  • 1-2 tsp sweetener (optional, to take away the acidity of the tomatoes) (F)
  • 1 tsp cayenne (F)
  • 1/2 tsp basil (F)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (F)
  • Splash of red wine vinegar (F)
  • Low calorie spray oil. (F)


  • Finely dice half an onion and crush one garlic clove, then mix with the rest of the meatball ingredients, making sure they are all well combined, squishing it all together with your fingers.
  • Divide the mixture into 12 equal-sized portions, and roll them into meatballs.
  • To make the sauce, roughly chop the other half of the onion, and crush the other garlic clove, and lightly fry in a little low-calorie spray oil.
  • Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir them together.
  • Gently drop the meatballs into the sauce to cook, occasionally turning them and gently stirring the sauce (if the sauce gets too thick, add a little water to thin it) – it should take 15-20 minutes.

I serve it with pasta and top with a little cheese from my HEa allowance, for a satisfyingly filling dinner, or make three smaller lunch-sized portions. It freezes well (without the pasta and cheese) so you can portion up your extras and keep them for another day when you can’t be bothered cooking.


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