Soon Israeli children will return to school, this is a list of great lunch options their parents might wish to make for them.

(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Every year at the end of the summer, the kids start complaining they don’t have anything to do and their parents are dreaming about the day the kids will finally go back to school. Soon enough we will again be figuring out what the kids like on their sandwiches for school. Some request cottage cheese and eggs, and others prefer chocolate spread or pastrami. Everyone’s happy to get back to their regular routine and find out who their kids’ new teachers are.
It’s wonderful to be able to welcome the kids home from their first day back at school with a really nice lunch. To that end, I’ve listed below three recipes for meatballs that are loved by kids.
The first is a recipe is for chicken meatballs prepared in a spicy tomato sauce. The second is for fish balls and the third tuna balls. The chicken meatballs can easily be made with beef in place of chicken and the fish balls can be made with other types of fish, too.
In addition, the herbs can be switched with any type of herb that your family likes.
I wish all parents and pupils a pleasant and fruitful school year.
These chicken meatballs are great served alongside mashed potatoes or white rice with broccoli and baby carrots. Or on a sandwich with veggies.
Note: The meatballs are meant to come out a little soft. This way, they are light and fluffy and are not too dense. Getting your hands wet or adding a little oil to them will make it easier to form the balls.
Makes 28 to 30 balls.
Meatballs: ½ kg. ground chicken (or beef) 1 large potato, grated coarsely 1 large onion, grated coarsely 10 sprigs of parsley, chopped 10 sprigs of coriander, chopped 5 cloves of garlic, crushed 2 medium eggs ½ Tbsp. chicken-soup powder 1 slice of bread soaked in water and squeezed well 1 Tbsp. matza meal 1 tsp. ras el hanout, baharat or cumin Salt and pepper, to taste For frying: oil (the amount you’d use to fry schnitzel) Tomato sauce: 2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 large onion, chopped thinly 4 cloves of garlic, chopped 1 red bell pepper, chopped into squares or thin strips 1 tomato, chopped finely 4 Tbsp. tomato paste 1 tsp. sweet paprika 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce 5 basil leaves or 1 tsp. dried oregano or leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme ½ tsp. sugar 1 tsp. cumin Salt and pepper to taste 2½ to 3 cups water If you want to make a sweet & sour sauce, you can add a little lemon juice or a spoonful of pickled lemon paste.
To prepare the meatballs, place the ground chicken (or beef), potatoes, onion, parsley, coriander and garlic in a bowl and mix well.
Add the eggs, soup powder, ras el hanout, squeezed bread, matza meal, and salt and pepper. Mix well. If the mixture is too runny, you can add a bit of flour or matza meal. But make sure not to let it get too thick.
Heat 2 cm. of oil in a large frying pan. Wet your hands and then form balls with a 5-cm. diameter and fry them on both sides until they turn brown.
If you prefer, you can skip the frying stage and instead add the balls straight to the boiling sauce.
Another option is to bake the meatballs: Arrange the balls on baking paper that has been lightly sprayed with oil. Spray the balls and then bake them in an oven that has been preheated to 180° or 190° for 15 minutes or until they’ve browned nicely and are thoroughly cooked.
To prepare the sauce, heat oil in a pot and fry onion and garlic for one to two minutes, until translucent.
Add the red peppers and tomato, tomato paste and spices. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the water, stir and bring back to a boil. Arrange the meatballs so that they’re all bunched together in the pot. Shake the pot a bit so that all the meatballs are covered with sauce. Cook them over a low flame for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot with a side dish of your choosing.
VEGAN BALLS If you don’t need the balls to be vegan, you can substitute an egg for the tehina, and of course the balls can be also be fried or cooked in tomato sauce.
Makes 16 large vegan balls.
2 medium onions, chopped finely 4 cloves of garlic, crushed 1 potato, cooked and mashed 1 zucchini, grated ½ bunch of parsley, chopped finely ½ bunch of coriander, chopped finely ½ cup dill, chopped FISH BALLS In contrast with chicken balls, the consistency of the fish balls is much thicker, making it easier to form fish balls that are all the same size and shape.
Makes 30 balls with 5 to 6 cm. diameter.
1 bunch of parsley, with some of stems 5 to 6 sprigs of dill 2 cloves of garlic, peeled 1 potato, quartered 1 carrot, cut into two 500 gr. Nile perch, ground 500 gr. cod, ground 2 medium eggs ½ cup matza meal 3 Tbsp. bread crumbs ½ tsp. sweet red pepper 1 tsp cumin Salt and pepper to taste Oil for frying (as if you were frying schnitzel) To prepare fish balls, process the parsley, dill, garlic, potato and carrot in a food processor. Pour mixture into a bowl and add ground fish, eggs, matza meal and bread crumbs. Mix well and then add the spices and stir.
Heat oil in a large pan. Wet your hands and then form balls with a 5 to 6 cm. diameter. Fry them on both sides until browned. If you prefer not to fry them, you can bake them in the oven. Serve with pasta, rice and vegetables.
If you don’t have access to ground fish, you can use tuna in oil from a can.
2 cans of tuna in oil, drained 1 potato, cooked 1 large carrot, cooked 3 Tbsp. corn from a can, drained (can be mashed a little) 2 eggs 2 cloves garlic, crushed ½ cup coriander or parsley, chopped 3 scallions, chopped finely ½ tsp. salt and black pepper ½ tsp. harissa ¼ tsp. baharat Add the drained tuna to a bowl and mash it up a bit. Mash the potato and carrot and add to the tuna. Add the corn, eggs, garlic, coriander or parsley, onions, salt and pepper, harissa and baharat. Mix well. Let mixture sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. If the mixture is too runny, you can add 1 Tbsp. of matza meal.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Wet your hands and form balls with a diameter of 5 cm. Fry them on both sides until browned. Alternatively, the tuna balls can also be baked or cooked in sauce.