Sunday, 25 September 2011

Cheeeeese - Meatball and Squash Spaghetti

I need to go to the post office but it's raining and windy. But I have to go, I'm sending clothes. Selling clothes has been part of my 'I like having money because it enables me to do things which are fun' scheme. So far, I've spent around £40 on registering, posting and buying other peoples' stuff. I have no self control and have yet to actually make any money. On the plus side, I have acquired some clothes (two dresses, a black lacy top, flat Urban Outfitters boots). It seems that writing out that last paragraph has made me feel as mis as the weather looks. I will take this as a sign that summer's officially over.

Autumn food is necessary to counter the awful weather. By autumn food, I mean cheese and squash and meat. I'm craving a sausage pasta bake. Not earth-shattering, I know, but the heart wants what it wants. Unfortunately my plan was scuppered by the no-pork rule (I'm the Persephone of pork and pork products. And alcohol. And staying out late. Home is fun.) and nowhere near me has started stocking beef sausages yet which is annoying because they're delicious. In the process of trying to find interesting things to do with squash and cheese and meat, I discovered that sausage and squash stew is a thing in America. As is meatball stuffed squash. While I was looking at meatball and squash recipes, I found this. The first time I ever had meatballs it was in Sweden so I thought it was appropriate to be inspired into meatball making by a Swedish recipe. Meatballs then made me think of pasta. Last time I had squash with pasta it was chicken milanese with lemon and roasted squash spaghetti. Mmm. So I thought I'd do squash pasta but add mini-meatballs to the mix.

Meatballs were an interesting choice for me since my most frequently occurring cooking mistakes are underseasoning and failing to make things bind. Usually, things that you need to make bind can't easily be checked for seasoning (normal people fry a little of the mixture to check the seasoning, my mother touches the mixture, licks her finger then gargles furiously) so those particular recipes sometimes end up doubly disgusting. The most catastrophic example of this was my attempt at making gnocchi. This ended in me and five hungry friends frantically covering all possible work surfaces with flour and potato. The gnocchi did get made but when I bit into the first one, I realised that what I'd ended up making were underseasoned balls of dough. You know how underseasoned potato tastes really gross? Yeah.

Thankfully, these meatballs were properly formed and properly seasoned. I'm going to take this to mean that I'm a better cook than I was a year ago.

Meatballs
250g beef mince
1 slice toasted bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
Half an onion, chopped really really reallyyy finely
1 clove garlic, again chopped super-finely
A pinch of cumin. Srsly. Half a teaspoon or so.
A teaspoon of thyme
A teaspoon of oregano
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together really well to make one big homogenised mincy mush. Shape into mini meatballs. The mixture was quite fatty and consequently quite sticky so I didn't need to use any egg to make the mixture bind.
Bake the meatballs in the oven for about 15 minutes, until they're golden and delicious.

Squash spaghetti
Medium squash
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp chilli flakes
40g sage
500g spaghetti
Pinch of nutmeg
75g mature cheddar
Salt and pepper

Prepare the squash - peel and chop into bitesize pieces. Put them on a baking tray, sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of finely chopped sage and stick in the oven until tender (about 30 mins at 220)
When roasted, turn half of the squash into a puree. Put this puree in a saucepan with a touch of olive oil and the tomato puree and chilli flakes. Mix and heat through. Check/adjust seasoning.
Cook spaghetti as per package instructions.
Drain, reserving a cup or so of cooking water. Toss the pasta with cheese, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Toss again with the puree, squash and meatballs.
It tastes better than it looks: I forgot to take a photo when it was freshly made so this is a photo of the leftovers.
This wasn't as good as chicken milanese with lemon and squash spaghetti but it was a damn sight more autumnal. And it satisfied my craving so I count this as a win.

Additional note (yeah, I schedule posts, what of it?): turns out you can get beef sausages in the Royal Town, they were just out of stock when I went a-looking. Sausage, carrot and cheese sauce pasta with sage, onion and breadcrumb topping went down a treat except it's against the rules to have two too-simple-to-really-be-a-recipes in a row. I still really miss pork though  - I keep thinking about pork belly with root vegetable mash. OH BABY.

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