I have been hanging around Smitten Kitchen a bit too much lately, mouth watering at the delicious photography and the beautiful recipes, and as a result I have decided to blog tonight’s dinner.
Usually I disagree with the idea of stealth vegetables, a la Jessica Seinfeld, because I think kids (or adults) should (a) know what they’re eating and (b) not get the idea that a wide selection of cakes forms a balanced diet, even if it does. I also think it’s too much work. I do make black-bean brownies for Monkey’s school lunch “dessert”, but he knows there are beans in them and is proud of the fact. (He also knows there’s a little instant coffee powder in the recipe, and enjoys scandalising adults by telling them that there’s coffee in it. In his mind, I may as well have made them on straight gin. If he knew what gin was.)
Anyway, I had a head of cauliflower, and I didn’t have any red pepper, which I would often use to veg-up a tomato sauce. So I sauteed the cauliflower with the onion and then pureed the whole lot with my handheld whizzer device after I’d added two cans of tomatoes. It sort of worked, in that you couldn’t taste the cauliflower, and it wasn’t yucky. On the other hand, it had a bit of an unusual consistency going on, and the colour wasn’t quite the rich red one expects from a straight tomato sauce. I still prefer my cauliflower roasted with lemon, parm and garlic, but that would have been extra work. This made it a one-pot meal.
I hadn’t made baked meatballs before, always afraid they’d be dried out and crumbly, but they turned out to be just as tasty as the fried ones, and so much less work. I will probably never fry a meatball again.
I mostly made up the recipe, but it was a pound of (organic) minced (ground) beef mixed with an egg, some breadcrumbs (I used panko because that’s what I had to hand), a couple of teaspoons of pesto, a tablespoon or so of grated parmesan, and some finely diced and sauteed onion. (I did the onion before starting the sauce, which also started with chopped sauteed onion, so it was hardly any extra work, just a little more careful chopping and some extra standing around.) I think it’s a variation on a recipe from the first Avoca cookbook.
Then I baked them at 400 F for about 15 minutes, until they looked done, and transferred them to the sauce where they simmered for another 15 minutes or so.
I like my meatballs with rice, as Nigella suggests, rather than spaghetti. And my rice is almost always basmati, because it cooks in ten minutes. I use twice as much water as rice, put a glass lid on, turn the heat up till it boils, turn the heat all the way down and set the timer for ten minutes, and at the beep it’s perfect. Five or ten minutes sitting waiting does it no harm at all and lets any excess water steam off.
Dinner is served. There’s enough for tomorrow, and one serving for the freezer.