“I’m so poorly” groaned Jamie from the sofa. “Corrie? Corrie? Corrie!…”
“Yes Jamie?” I called from the kitchen.
“I’m so poorly” Jamie whimpered again into a sofa cushion.
“You’re not poorly, you’re just hungover” I answered as I expertly stabbed a cherry tomato with the tip of my knife. I wonder what it’d be like to spear a human eyeball I thought… Blimey where on earth did that come from?
“But I didn’t even drink that much” Jamie half heartedly moaned this time. I could tell he was playing a game on his phone now so I ignored him and drew my attention back to the pasta sauce I’d been making for my meatballs.
I’d never made meatballs before, they’ve always seemed more trouble than they’re worth but after my recent trip to IKEA I got severe meatball envy. So I stuffed a Quorn hot dog in my face (two actually) and headed back to the car laden with crap I’d just bought but didn’t need (standard IKEA trip) and started thinking about my balls.
Speaking of balls, Jamie was now contently watching a man kick one around on TV whilst I nervously peered into the oven at my own. I’d spent an hour and a half making these guys so they’d better be good, mainly because I was far more hungover than I was letting on and felt on the edge of death… Standing in front of a hot oven clearly wasn’t helping.
Twenty minutes later I plonked myself down on the sofa next to Jamie, two bowls of steaming hot Spaghetti and meatballs in front of us.
“Wow these look amazing! Jamie gasped and then he turned to look at me. “You alright darling? You look a bit peaky.”
Through a mouthful of spaghetti and meatballs I managed to mumble “I think I might be poorly Jamie”.
Takes 2 hours / Makes roughly 16 balls
(You will need a food processor for this recipe)
500g chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
Can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
Half a red onion
3 garlic cloves crushed
4 Tbs rolled oats
Small pinch of dried oregano and dried basil
Large pinch of paprika
Handful of freshly chopped parsley
30g grated parmesan
2 Tbs flour
Salt and pepper
Extra flour for dusting
Spray oil (or regular sunflower/olive oil)
1 can chopped tomatoes
Big handful of cherry tomatoes (roughly 10)
1 Tbs tomato purée
Half a red onion
1/2 a red deseeded chilli
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
150g of Spaghetti
Parmesan and fresh basil for garnish (optional)
1. Pull the stalks out of the mushrooms and discard. Blitz the remaining mushrooms in a food processor for around 10 seconds in two batches. Be careful not to over process them, you want them to look finely chopped, not like breadcrumbs.
2. Spoon into a heavy bottomed pan or large saucepan with a tablespoon of butter and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Meanwhile half the red onion, cut into quarters and pop in the food processor for around 10 seconds (no need to clean the food processor). Spoon out into a bowl and put to one side.
3. Drain and wash the cannalleni beans and also put them in the food processor (again no need to wash it before hand). Blitz for longer this time until you have a paste (around 30 seconds to a minute).
4. By now your mushrooms will have cooked down and there should be little water left to absorb. Add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes.
5. Take the mixture off the heat and add the crushed garlic and give it a good stir. Then add 4 tablespoons of oats and the cannelloni bean paste and mix well. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. (At this stage this mixture won’t look very appetising but don’t worry about that.)
6. Once a little cooled add the Parmesan and mix. Beat in the egg and add the freshly chopped parsley, flour, a small pinch of oregano, basil and a big pinch of paprika and season well with salt and pepper. Stir together until you have quite a wet mixture. (If you want to avoid sticky hands you could always refrigerate the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours at this point but I can’t be bothered, I’m hungry.)
7. Preheat your oven to 200°c (180°c fan).
8. Line two baking trays with baking paper and dust your hands with flour and take a heaped teaspoon of meatball mix. Roll quickly in your palms to prevent it sticking to them and pop on the baking tray. Dust your hands again and repeat until you have around 16 meatballs. (If your hands get too caked in mixture, simply wash them and dust them with flour again. I had to do this a few times.) Spray the balls with a bit of spray oil and pop in the oven for 12 minutes.
9. Now make your sauce (or use a jar, no judgement). Finely chop the other half of the red onion and cook on a medium heat for five minutes. Add a bit of water to help steam the onions, this will help cook them faster. Add the chilli and cook for another minute. Stir in the can of tomatoes, red wine and the tomato purée. Spear the cherry tomatoes with a knife and add them to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.
10. After 12 minutes turn the meatballs and continue to cook for another 12 minutes.
11. Once the meatballs are cooked add 6-8 meatless balls carefully to the sauce and take off the heat (3 to 4 meatballs per person). Cover them gently in sauce and then pop the lid on and leave for about 10 minutes. This is a good time to cook your pasta.
12. Drain the cooked pasta and add it bit by bit to the sauce and meatballs being careful not to break the meatballs. Once the pasta is incorporated divide into bowls and serve topped with fresh basil, parmesan, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
(Freeze the remaining 8 meatballs to have as a quick and easy dinner another time or refrigerate and consume within 3 days.)
If you’ve had a go at making my meatless meatballs or any of my recipes I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org