“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 + extra for dusting
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 frozen after cooking and cooling. Freeze in an air-tight container and consume within 3 months. Alternatively, refrigerate and consume within 3 days
1. Roughly chop the mushrooms before blitzing in a food processor for around 10 seconds in 2 batches, being careful not to over process. Spoon into a heavy bottomed saucepan with a knob of butter and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, 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 around 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 minute).
3. By now the mushrooms will have cooked down and there should be little water left to absorb. Add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes. 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 minutes.
4. Once cooled, add the Italian hard cheese, fresh parsley, plain 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 dust your hands with flour and take a heaped teaspoon of meatball mix. Roll quickly in your palms to prevent it from sticking 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, wash them and dust again with flour. I did this a few times.) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.
6. Meanwhile, finely chop the other half of the onion and add it to a large non-stick saucepan along with a tsp of olive oil. Sweat over a medium heat for 5 minutes (add a dash of water to help the onions steam). Add the chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further minute. Stir in the tomato purée before adding the can of tomatoes and red wine. Score the cherry tomatoes with a knife and add them to the sauce. Season again with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.
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 my meatless meatballs or any of my recipes I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org
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.