“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”.
Serves 2 (makes 16 meatballs) / Hands on time 50 mins / 1hr 30 mins / V ❄
You’ll need: A food processor
500g chestnut mushrooms
knob of unsalted butter
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, peeled
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbs rolled oats
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ smoked paprika
Handful freshly chopped parsley
30g grated vegetarian Italian hard cheese or Parmesan* + extra for garnish
2 tbs flour
1 tsp olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
10 cherry tomatoes
1 tbs tomato purée
½ tsp chilli flakes
100ml red wine
Fresh basil to serve (optional)
NOTE: This recipe makes twice as many meatballs than you need. Any meatballs you don’t use, can be cooled and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To freeze, cool fully before freezing in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.
1. Roughly chop the mushrooms before blitzing in a food processor for around 10 seconds in batches, being careful not to over process. Spoon into a heavy bottomed saucepan along with 1/4 tsp of salt and a knob of butter. Cook over a medium heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, peel and half the red onion (saving half for the sauce later) and cut into quarters. Put in the food processor for 10 seconds (no need to clean the food processor). Spoon out into a small bowl and put to one side.
2. Add the cannellini beans to the food processor and blitz for a little longer this time until you have a paste (around 30 seconds to a 1 min).
3. Once the mushrooms are cooked, spoon into a sieve over a sink and squeeze down with the back of as spoon to allow most of the juice to run out (you may need to do this in batched. Discard any remaining juice from the pan and return to the heat along with the newly squeezed mushrooms. Add the onion and cook for a further 5 mins. Take the mixture off the heat and add the crushed garlic, 4 tbs of oats and the cannelloni bean paste. Mix well and leave to cool for 10 mins.
4. Once cooled, add the Italian hard cheese, fresh parsley, flour, dried herbs, smoked paprika and season well with salt and pepper. Mix well before beating in the egg (the mixture will be quite wet). Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6.
5. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and take a heaped teaspoon of meatball mix. Roll quickly in your palms into a meatball shape and place on the baking tray. Making sure you leave enough space between each ball, repeat the process until you have no mixture left. Bake in the oven for 20 mins.
6. To make the sauce, finely chop the other half of the red onion and add it to a large non-stick saucepan along with a tsp of olive oil. Sweat over a medium heat for 5 mins (add a dash of water to help the onions steam). Add the chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and stir in the tomato purée. Up the heat and start adding the wine gradually stirring continually until the wine has cooked off and reduced down. Score the cherry tomatoes with a knife and add to the sauce along with the can of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil before turning the heat down and simmering for 10 -15 mins.
7. Once the meatballs are cooked add 8 meatballs carefully to the sauce and take off the heat (allow 4 meatballs per person). Coat them gently in sauce using a spoon before putting the lid on. Leave to sit while you make your spaghetti.
8. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions and drain. Add the pasta bit by bit straight into the sauce being careful not to break the meatballs. Once the pasta is incorporated, divide into bowls and serve topped with fresh basil leaves, a sprinkle of parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.
V– Vegetarian ❄– Meatballs are suitable for home freezing once cooked and cooled. Consume within 3 months.
*Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiani) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.