They say the way to our heart is through our stomach.
Well ‘they’ certainly know me well. For me, nothing says ‘I love you’ like a delicious, homemade meal. Don’t get me wrong, I do love going out to eat as well, especially since that means there are no dishes or tables to clean up after. However, a homemade meal means someone’s put a lot of thought, effort, care and well, love, into what they’ve made for you.
This month, I've chosen to focus a little more on love through the art of food, and I recommend it whole heartedly for you too. A loving meal is by no means exclusionary, and while you should pamper your friends and family and your significant other, you should also remember to treat yourself.
How often do we forget to focus on ourselves when it comes to the way we feed and care for our bodies?
Too often, we - and when I say we, I quite literally mean ‘I’ - eat meals standing in the kitchen, opening and closing the refrigerator doors (and by meals I mean randomly thrown together foods items, such as half an avocado, some corn chips, oh yea how about a handful of chocolate, a spoonful of ricotta cheese - wow that was a satisfying and relaxing dinner). It’s time to love ourselves and those special people around us by taking the time to really enjoy making, creating, eating and nourishing our bodies.
I picked this recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs from the Jamie Oliver cook book (MMM for meatballs but also for that lovely British chap who could convince us to eat just about anything with his wild hair and sexy accent).
I envisioned sitting down at a tiny, tucked away trattoria in Italy. The recipe was super easy (SEE IT BELOW), and I used a slightly thicker pasta than recommended, but I actually think a thinner one would do better. There’s always next time!
Enjoy with someone you love (think Lady and the Tramp style) or if you’re making it for just yourself, make sure you set the table pretty, sit yourself down and pour that wine - with this dish there is certainly no sharing required.
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Here's the recipe below, or go directly to Jamie's site here:
For your meatballs 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary 8 saltine crackers, preferably with unsalted tops 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard ½ pound good-quality lean ground beef, pork, or a mixture of the two ½ heaped teaspoon dried oregano 1 large egg, freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil
For your sauce and pasta A small bunch of fresh basil 1 medium onion 2 cloves of garlic ½ a fresh or dried red chile 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 x 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes 8 ounces (half a box) dried spaghetti or penne 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, for grating freshly ground black pepper, to taste ½ teaspoon salt for water
To Make Your Meatballs
Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and finely chop them.
Wrap the crackers in a kitchen towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands. Add to a mixing bowl with the mustard, ground meat, chopped rosemary, and oregano.
Crack in the egg into a small bowl and beat it well. Add about half to the bowl along with a good pinch of pepper. With clean hands, scrunch and mix up well. Divide into 4 small balls. With wet hands, divide each ball into 3 and roll into little meatballs – you should end up with 12.
Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil and jiggle them about so they all get coated. Put them on a plate, cover, and place in the refrigerator until needed.
To cook your pasta, meatballs, and sauce
Pick the basil leaves, keeping any smaller ones to one side for later. Peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic. Finely slice the chile.
Put a large pot of salted (½ teaspoon) water on to boil.
Next, heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and add a lug of olive oil. Add your onion to the frying pan and stir for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden. Then add your garlic and chile, and as soon as they start to get some color add the large basil leaves. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil and season to taste.
Meanwhile, heat another frying pan and add a lug of olive oil and your meatballs. Stir them around and cook for 8–10 minutes until golden (check they’re cooked by opening one up – there should be no sign of pink).
Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until the pasta is ready, then remove from the heat. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions
To Serve Your Spaghetti And Meatballs
Saving some of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander. Return the pasta to the pot.
Spoon half the tomato sauce into the pasta, adding a little splash of your reserved water to loosen the sauce and help the sauce stick to the pasta.
Serve on a large platter, or in separate bowls, with the rest of the sauce and meatballs on top. Sprinkle over the small basil leaves and some grated Parmesan.