Traybake Meatballs with Kale in Tomato Sauce

I always used to be worried about eating kale   The only times I had eaten it, it had been a bit tough and squeaked on my teeth   I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about   It may be a superfood but it wasn’t very palatable and, according to my parents, it was something that was only given to farm animals.  I stuck to spinach and cabbage. How wrong I was to limit myself!


Now I know how to prepare and use it there is no more squeaking and I use it in so many ways though my favourite way is when it is eaten with pasta, either as part of a sauce or, as it is here, in a meatball.  In fact, these meatballs are a great way to introduce kids to kale as it isn’t obvious.

I always try to prepare extra (you can never have too many meatballs right?) and freeze those at the end of stage 4 so there is a cache in the freezer   Mind you, extras are good at room temperature,  as a nibble or even in sandwiches so they might not make it.

i actually make this in a oven proof frying pan (it has a metal handle) rather than a tray but that’s just personal preference.  You can do it all in a tray just as easily.  If you want to simplify this dish instead of making the tomato sauce use a 680g jar of passata with a teaspoon of sugar  – it works really well.



Ingredients (serves 4-6)

For the meatballs

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • A large bunch kale or cime di rappa
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 450g minced beef
  • 225g pork sausage meat
  • 25g bread crumbs
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper

For the tomato sauce (see notes for cheats version) 

  • 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 2 x crushed cloves garlic
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 75ml red wine (optional)
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Garnish – Parmesan for sprinkling


  1. Put the sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer stirring frequently. Turn heat down to low and let bubble away till thick stirring from time to time
  2. To make the meatballs fry the onion gently for 5 mins with a tablespoon of olive oil in your tray/oven proof frying pan so they are soft.  Put them in a large bowl in which you will mix your meatballs
  3. Chop the kale finely and Using  the same tray/pan as the onions cook the kale in another tablespoon of the oil for 5 mins.  Remove and add to mixing bowl with onions
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs to the bowl, mix well  and shape into meatballs the size of a golf ball
  5. At this stage I like to chill the meatballs for 20 mins in fridge so they firm up but this is optional
  6. Heat oven to 175c
  7. Put the remaining 3 tabspoons of oil in tray/pan and fry the meatballs over a medium heat until brown
  8. Add tomato sauce and turn meatballs over in sauce before baking in oven for 15 mins
  9. at this stage I like to cook spaghetti so I can gently mix it in with the cooked meatballs and sauce to coat, sprinkle over grated Parmesan and serve




  1. Wow, these look super delicious Rosie! I like to bake meatballs too (instead of frying them in a pan)– but have never thought of adding kale! And a great idea to make extras and save them– you’re right– you can’t have too many meatballs! Thanks for the recipe and all the good ideas. Happy weekend– What are you up to?? So far we are spending our Friday night watching the Olympics and kicking back. Hope all’s well with you… xox

    • Lickthespoon says:

      We are watching the Olympics too! Not that Team GB are super at winter sports though the skeleton seems to have become a good event for us and well done Izzy Atkin! (And thank you USA for letting us have her)
      I have to admit to using meatballs as nibbles in front of the tv sometimes (cocktail sticks/toothpicks are so useful) and I love all the different meatball variations you can make Xx

      • Hey Rosie– yep, I’d eat meatballs almost anywhere! And the Americans are not doing that well in the Olympics this year. We have a good friend whose parents are from Norway and he loves to remind us of their medals whenever we cross paths!! ha ha! Happy watching! xox

    • Lickthespoon says:

      Do let me know how you get on. I love the fact that you are taking such positive action and the meat and kale combo should be a great one for you. I hope you enjoy it.

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