Poor neglected blog. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking and eating, obv – just that a natural break happened (which included six blissful weeks out of The Routine while school holidays occurred) during which time, among other things, I did a week’s course at Leith’s cookery school which was amazing (and which I blogged about here).
And suddenly here we are on the threshold of autumn; still just about warm enough to justify sockless feet and holding out hope for another warm spell before it’s well and truly over. So what to cook? Parmesan meatballs and courgetti, I thought.
Meatballs ARE a bit of a faff compared to Bolognese, it’s true. But if you are in the mood for not minding a bit of faff, the pay off is worth it, at least I think so.
And my new discovery about tomato sauce – am I late coming to this partay? – is to blitz it, post-cooking, with a stick blender, so it’s silky smooth without the rustic onion and chunky tomato factor which one is sometimes, but not always, in the mood for.
Instead of flour, I add almond flour along with parmesan to give the meatballs a bit of body and a bit of stick. And I served these with courgetti instead of spaghetti but you could please both crowds very easily by whipping up some of the real stuff too.
Oh yes and mucho parmesan on top, obviously. In my case so mucho that you can’t quite see the meatballs that lurk beneath, which is why I’ve done a before and after pic.
Serve with a green salad to remind yourself that summer ain’t over quite yet.
2 or 3 onions
3 or 4 cans of Napolitana tomatoes (it’s so worth splashing the cash on tinned tomatoes, can I just say?)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
ground nut oil (which I am currently favouring for cooking due to the higher smoke point although once the sauce is cooked, before serving, I recommend a splash of extra virgin olive oil)
Chop the onions roughly (bearing in mind they will later be blitzed) and fry gently until they soften at which point add the tomatoes. Season, and add the garlic using a presser and cook for about 40 minutes at which point you can blitz straight away or leave to cool, depending on when you want to eat it.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
500g Lean ground beef (I tend to go for the most expensive I can afford, ideally organic)
1 egg, whisked
85g grated parmesan
100g ground almonds
1-2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove garlic crushed
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, using a knife to break up the beef and your hands to mix it all before form into balls which is the messy* and time consuming part. Size is optional, depending on what you favour but I do prefer smallish ie bite sized, much as I try to avoid that phrase which makes me cringe a bit for some reason.
Heat some groundnut oil and brown the meatballs all over in a pan. Hopefully the egg/almond flour combo will mean they are fairly robust. Once they are browned all over, add the tomato sauce and gently cook for about 45 minutes. Then serve, atop a lovely courgetti mound.
*I just read in ‘Jamie’ magazine that if you dip your hands into cold water between meatballs your hands get less gunky but I have not yet tried this so will report back once I have.
Got a spiraliser? If not then you can try grating them, which does actually work although it creates shorter strands. If you do have a spiraliser, then spiralise about two courgettes per person and either blanche in water or, if like me you favour the oil and garlic option then pan fry them in a wok until they are fairly soft, at which point season, and serve, not even noticing that they are not spaghetti.