I loved reading books when I was a child (I still do!). First, I would beg my mum to read 'The Wizard of Oz' to me, then, somehow I learnt to read and would devour books by a truckload. Thinking back about the books I used to be particularly crazy about I came to a conclusion they all had one thing in common. Well, you guessed it: they all featured descriptions of food. One from the Oz series included a detailed paragraph about lunch boxes growing on trees (how cool would that be, huh?). Then there was 'Little house on the prairie' which had me salivating at descriptions of bacon and maple syrup, cornbread and sliced fat salt pork. And finally (before you start doubting where all this leads to) 'The six Bullerby children'. I swear I must have read this book at least 15 times and to this day I remember a chapter featuring the main character's mother making meatballs. Ah, meatballs! I make them really often and every time I shake the pan I see myself, aged 7 reading about Bullerby children's adventures.
A little side note: while doing a little research to confirm the titles of the books I came across this brilliant blog: Literary Food Porn. I think the name says it all!
Now, back to the stars of today's post. You can use all sorts of meat for meatballs, but I recently became a fan of turkey mince as I'm trying to cut a few calories here and there. And there's no leaner meat than turkey!
This recipe is really, and I mean really simple. The meatballs use only a few ingredients and so does the sauce. You're probably wondering why the egg and breadcrumbs are missing from the meatball ingredients list; the answer might come as a bit of a shock: they aren't necessary! Trust me, your meatballs will not fall apart and they'll be juicier. Simplicity baby!
So let's get started.
To make enough for two people you'll need:
For the meatballs:
500 g turkey mince
dried herbs (I used about a tsp of thyme and oregano)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp oil, for frying
For the sauce:
1 red/white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, squeezed through garlic press or chopped
few fresh basil leaves
400 g can of chopped tomatoes
1 courgette, cubed
salt, pepper to taste
pasta (enough for two)
more basil, to serve
Get a pot of water boiling for the pasta and start by making meatballs.
In a big bowl, mix turkey mince, salt, pepper (about a tsp of each), herbs and cayenne, then form little balls - each one of mine is about 25 g which is a heaped teaspoon. 500 grams of meat should yield a batch of give or take 25 meatballs. And best thing is, if that's too much you can always freeze some for later!
Now the meatballs are ready, get chopping! Finely slice onion, garlic and courgette and open a can of tomatoes.
The water for pasta should be boiling now: add whichever pasta you fancy - I used some nice colourful shells that my friend recently brought me from Trieste.
Get some oil nice and hot in the pan and put your meatballs in, one by one. Fry for about a minute or two before shaking the pan to get them evenly brown. Don't poke them with a fork or a spatula, just shake the pan!
After about 3 minutes the meatballs should be nice and golden brown all over - set them aside on a big plate (don't worry about meat being raw, you'll cook the meatballs some more in the sauce).
Add a bit more oil to the pan and fry onion, garlic and courgette for about 5 minutes.
Then add tomatoes and meatballs and simmer gently to reduce the sauce.
Drain the pasta, spoon meatballs and sauce all over, pop a few fresh basil leaves and parmesan shavings on top and tuck in!