Meatballs alla Puttanesca

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Rainy days in Alberta. Crazy how green and lush everything just turned!

The happiest are the cows out there, in the field, jumping from one patch to the next, grazing the tender shoots!

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What a contrast with the summery Victoria Day weekend! Good thing I finished planting Adam’s tomatoes in their sunny spot, my strawberries and my flowers in the remaining pots and hanging baskets!

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The lettuce, radishes, beets and snap peas were already sprouting last week, stimulated by the heat. Of course, I don’t have rubber boots and it is muddy in the vegetable garden. I cannot wait until the end of the rain to check things out.

Comfort food is what I need today…Meatballs are not the most original food but I would like to share this lip-smacking recipe with you. To make them, I mixed the ground beef with oats and olive oil, instead of breadcrumbs or eggs to keep the meat in cohesive yet moist and balls. I also added pungent dry mustard and flavourful Italian herbs to complement and offset the sweetness of the onions and tomato paste.

Meatballs are tasty on their own as an appetizer or finger-food at a potluck party. Dipped in tzatziki…Yum!

This time I made a variation of the puttanesca, a classic Italian tomato sauce that uses anchovies, olives, and capers to infuse the meat with homey-yummy goodness. I served the dish over giant pasta shells topped with fresh raw zucchini slices, grated Crotonese cheese and Italian parsley.

Ingredients for 4-6 servings (about 2 dozen):

1 pound extra lean ground beef

1 cup rolled oats

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons Italian herbs

2 tablespoons dry mustard

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ cup flour

Olive oil

For the sauce:

2 celery stalks

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

6 anchovies

1 carrot

1 cup cremini mushrooms

1 small orange pepper

16 ounces canned Cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons capers

½ cup Moroccan dry-cured black olives

For the topping:

1 small zucchini squash

Italian parsley

Crotonese cheese

1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat.

2. Start the sauce by chopping then sautéing the onion, celery, carrots and anchovies until soft.

3. Stir in chopped mushrooms and pepper and sauté for 1-2 mins.

4. Add the cherry tomatoes, season and let simmer for 15 mins.

5. While the tomatoes simmer, in a large bowl, mix the ground beef with the rolled oats, chopped onion, herbs, dry mustard, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper using a fork.

6. Roll the ground mixture into 2 tablespoon-size balls and coat with flour.

7. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat.

8. Sauté the meatballs, until brown on all sides.

9. Transfer the meatballs into the tomato sauce and let simmer for ½ hour, until the meatballs are cooked through.


Dana McCauley said...

Meatballs are one of my son's favorite things. I love them, too but I hate getting my hands all gooey and ground meat covered. So, I've started to cheat by forming my meat mixture into a large rectangle, about 3/4 inch think on a rimmed baking sheet. THen I cut the meat using a pastry scraper into bite-size squares and bake the 'meatballs' in the oven. The end result is actually meat cubes but the taste is great and there is so much less mess.

Good luck with your garden - I look forward to seeing more pics as the season progresses.

Vanilla said...

Thanks for the cube trick, Dana. I know exactely what you mean about gooey and sticky, which is why I use rolled oats.

I will certainly keep you posted about my garden! Good luck to you as well!

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