So, erm, Hi. Again. Sorry, I keep doing this - ducking in and out, avoiding commitment, scared someone will ask me for a key if I stay too long. However, this time, I'm going to try to stick around a while, so we'll take some time to settle in, get used to each other again.
God, this is embarrassing, but anyway, an old friend asked me to resurrect the blog because apparently my Twitter (yeah, I'm on Twitter now too) updates on what I am feeding MCD Jr are interesting suggestions, but what with the word count and all, there's no recipes and now you people want recipes. Want, want, want.... Anyway, I'm going to try to keep up with that because I happen to think it's really fucking important what we feed our children and even if this only helps my friend get through the long lonely winters of Minnesota, then that's one person who's reading and that's ok. Alright, Sar....
So, we'll start with an easy one. Well, it is easy in that it's a meatball pasta bake, but the cool part is that a) there's no less than six vegetables in it and b) it's a classic make-ahead/freeze/expandable and adjustable recipe that you can substitute whatever you like in. For example, I used veal mince but that's because it was on offer in Sainsbury's - you could use pork, beef, lamb or turkey if you wanted. Everything else is non-negotiable. Well, sort of. The veg are kind of non-negotiable.
This serves a healthy 4-6 people. I am anticipating meatball sandwiches tomorrow.
4-6 balls frozen spinach, defrosted and really squeezed
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tbsp. Parmesan, grated
Mix together the above ingredients into small balls not bigger than walnuts really. Or golf balls. Just something you can pop right in and will look nice. Add a little olive oil to a really nice wide pan and fry the meatballs in batches until really browned on both sides, setting aside in a bowl when done. Then whizz...
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 stalk rosemary, leaves only
...in a food processor and fry in the leftover oil in the pan until soft. This will add real sweetness and depth to the sauce. Then add the meatballs back in and add...
a gurgle of red or white wine (I had about 100ml red leftover - optional)
1 can tinned tomatoes
200ml chicken or beef stock
2 sprigs thyme
... and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced enough that you can see it saucing the pasta comfortably and it tastes good. Season it, for god's sake. The sauce will taste quite rich and grown-up. If you think it needs sugar, add a pinch.
Meanwhile, cook enough pasta (I go with 80g per adult, 40g per child) and drain, then toss it all together, strew with sliced mozzarella and bake in a good hot oven for about 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.
You could up the veg content more or make it veggie but adding aubergine and courgettes and even peppers. Parmesan is nice added after cooking. Garlic bread is unnecessary but thanks to the friend mentioned above, I seem to make it far more than I should.
Have a go, let me know what you think. Or not.