Fay Ripley’s Saucy Sicilian Meatballs


As Fay Ripley says in her book “Fay’s Family Food”-  ”For some reason, in this country, we have lost the ability to eat together. We all shout “There’s no time!”, but it’s a flawed argument. We have to eat, right? So eat something tasty. It doesn’t have to take long, but at least you will feel good afterwards.

“The other excuse we make to ourselves is that it’s easier to grab the same old thing or packet of something bland, but…….they are bored and can’t think what to buy for everyone for the week ahead. Monday: pizza for the children, jars and fishfingers for the baby, takeaway for the adults. Well meatballs for everyone sounds so much easier to me. Also, I reckon it’s cheaper to all eat from the same pot. Look the Italians do it. Why can’t we?”

Fay’s answer to this conundrum is to cook just one meal and remove your babies’ and kids’ portions if necessary, before adding more grown up, challenging ingredients. This makes such a lot of sense! I wish I had found this book when my kids were little, some nights I was making 4 different meals to cater for everybody’s different tastes, ridiculous!

Here is Fay’s recipe for Saucy Sicilian Meatballs:

For the Meatballs                                                                                  For the Sauce

  • 60g fresh breadcrumbs                                                                . 1 large onion
  • 500g lean minced beef                                                                 . 1 celery stick
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed                                                               . 1 large carrot, all finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves                                                            . 2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • zest of 1 lemon, finely grated                                                     . 2tbsp tomato puree
  • 45g parmesan cheese                                                                    . 250ml low-salt veg stock
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg                                                                 . 2tbsp red split lentils
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • plain or spelt flour for coating
  1. Put the breadcrumbs, mince, garlic, thyme, lemon zest, parmesan and nutmeg into a bowl. Add the eggs, mix, then, using a spoon and your hands, form into balls (about 2 bites in size). Roll in flour and put in fridge. (Tip moisten your hands with water to prevent sticking)
  2. Fry the onion, celery and carrot over a high heat, stirring regularly. After 5 minutes, add the tomatoes, puree and lentils and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Fry the meatballs until brown in a splash of olive oil, keeping them moving to prevent sticking, drain fat, add tomato sauce and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Serve over spaghetti.

Babies: Puree all or just the sauce alone, this freezes really well.
Kids: Pasta is great but works really well on mash too
Adults: Add extra parmesan and seasoning
I have tried lots of recipes from this book and also the follow up “What’s for Dinner?”. They are well written and presented, easy to follow, but best of all, everyone loves the food! Fay is very funny and just reading the forward to the recipes makes me smile. Her first book won the Mumsnet Best Cookery Book 2011, so I’m not the only one who thinks these books are great!
Visit Amazon to see Fay’s book:

Fay’s Family Food: Delicious Recipes Where One Meal Feeds Everyone. Whatever Age!


My name is Caroline Sutton and I'm a wife and mother of 3 children, passionate about food, keeping me and my family healthy, gorgeous interiors and shopping! I have a degree in Biochemistry and Pharmacology and continue to be interested in the science behind diet and drugs. I also have a Diploma and City and Guilds in Interior Design and for the last 17 years have run a property company which develops, redevelops and manages rental properties: Sunlight Properties Ltd.

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