I'm deliriously happy right now, over how good this pasta dish was. Forget bad weather or 'life sucks' or 'I have to get up at 5:30am to get to clinic tomorrow morning), this is feel good food.
And I'm feeling very good.
Once again, I modified a recipe from 'Nigella Bites'. This book singularly be my most used cookbook to date so BIG THANK YOU to Will for getting it for me (you have great taste and I think Nigella is hot too).
You can probably see I'm going through a mini Italian phase. As much as it was hard work making my own pasta the first time, I developed a craving to give it another go. Plus, I had a bit of tomatoey eggplant sauce left over from yesterday's involtini so it made sense to do a pasta dish.
I did indeed use V8 juice, the spicy vegetable one to be precise. You can use tomato juice instead but the spiciness added great flavor the the resultant pasta sauce.
Serves 2 (or 1 hungry person)
For the meatballs
- 50g pork mince
- 50g beef mince
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- big pinch of salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp bread crumbs
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 can chopped tomatoes (about 100g)
- 1 cup tomato juice (or be cool like me and use V8 juice. Make sure it's the savory one, not the fruity one)
- 150ml full cream milk
- I used 1 egg's worth of pasta (see this post for homemade pasta instructions)
- This time around, I let my stand mixer do most of the work with its dough hooks. Because I wasn't exerted from kneading, I was able to roll out the pasta thinner. I cut it into 5cm strips which, according to Jamie Oliver, qualifies them as 'tagliarini'. The pasta worked out better than last time and wasn't overly chewy. Now, all I need is a pasta machine and the whole process will be a cinch.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- some chopped parsley to garnish
Make the pasta first...
Make the meatballs
1. In a medium-sized bowl, use your hands to combine all the ingredients for the meatballs.2. Pinch off a bit at a time (about a teaspoon's worth) and roll into a ball. Place on a piece of non-stick paper and continue. The key is to make them small so they cook easily and make them as regularly-sized as possible.
3. Cling wrap and pop them in the fridge till you're ready to cook them.
Make the sauce
4. In a food processor, blitz together the onion, garlic and dried oregano. Fry this pulpy mix in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil until softened.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato juice. Let it simmer over low heat for about 15min.
6. When you're ready to add the meatballs, first stir in the full cream milk. Add the meatballs gently and let them rest. Don't turn or toss the mixture until they change color from pink to white/brown otherwise they may fall apart. I didn't stir in the milk before adding the meatballs and I couldn't stir the sauce once they were added. As a result, the milk curdled a bit and didn't get fully incorporated. It didn't affect the taste but doesn't look that nice so mix your milk in from the get go and you can avoid this.7. Put the lid on partially and continue to simmer the sauce on low for about 15-20 min. You can gently stir the meatballs around to coat them fully in the sauce. Cook for another 3min or so - test to make sure they are cooked throughout (just cut one open).
8. In this time, you should be cooking you're pasta. Fresh pasta doesn't take long to cook so you can do it just a few min before the sauce is ready; or, start after the sauce is ready and just keep the sauce warm. Boil a generous-sized pot full of water with the salt and olive oil. Add the pasta and cook for 2-3min until it is just al dente.
9. Drain the water out. Serve the pasta with the sauce, meatballs, a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan and some chopped parsley.
This dish was time-consuming but not at all difficult (the only hard work was in rolling out the pasta so if you're using pre-bought pasta, or have your own pasta machine, it's all good).
I honestly thought this pasta and sauce was delicious. You can imagine that I thought I had a failure on my hands when the milk curdled but everything turned out fantastically in the end. I didn't even want to take the photos for this blog because I wanted to dig right in! This dish will probably make for excellent left-overs tomorrow too, and that's something else to look forward to.
Close-up of the pasta ll mixed together. Lovely
I'm not a huge fan of repeating recipes, not because I'm a snob but because there are so many recipes I want to try. This will probably be a special exception and I'll keep it up my sleeve for the colder months to come.