I figure by now that we’re friends, right?! So I guess that means it’s time you learnt two big things about me…
- I really, really, dislike tomato based sauces.
- I’m married to a man who loves them.
I know. I feel the same way too. HOW did we end up married?! But put your fears for our marital bliss to on hold for a moment because… drumroll please… I may have found the sauce to change my mind.
Meatballs Alla Norma combines some of my absolute favourite ingredients; sweet chilli sauce, fennel and balsamic vinegar, masking the tomatoey-ness of the sauce with a sweet and sour tang. I’m also a relatively recent convert to the world of aubergine having avoided it for years and then dived in to having it bi-weekly of late – I love it. This meal is healthy, quick and requires relatively few ingredients beyond your basic store cupboard essentials so you can whip it up on the fly and serve it smug in the knowledge it’s good for you.
Introducing Jamie Oliver’s ‘Meatballs Alla Norma’.
Meatballs Alla Norma
You will need:
For the meatballs
- 400-500g of lean beef mince
- 2 tablespoons of fennel
- Handful of fresh parsley
For the sauce
- 1 large aubergine/eggplant
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes in sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
To serve (optional)
- Pasta for 4
- Grated parmesan
- Chop the aubergine into chunks approximately 1.5cm (1/2 inch) wide. Place into a large bowl and salt over-liberally. Place to one side for 15 minutes
- Chop the parsley, stalks and all. Using your hands, mix the parsley into the mince, breaking up the mince in the process
- Divide the mince into half and in half again and use each section to make roughly five equally sized balls. Roll the balls between your hands to ensure they are compacted and round (!)
- Spread the fennel seeds over a plate and roll the meatballs over the fennel seeds, allowing them to be lightly covered. Place the completed balls into a bowl and put in the fridge to firm
- Squeezing out any excess liquid as you go, transfer the aubergine into a pan with a splash of olive oil. Cook over a low heat until golden
- Once golden, add the sweet chilli sauce, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic and tomatoes along with a small splash of water and allow to simmer and thicken whilst you cook the meatballs. You may need to stir in some additional water if you feel the sauce gets too thick
- Fry off the meatballs in a separate pan, taking care to constantly move them so as not to let them burn. This should take around ten minutes. (At this point you might want to put on your pasta!) Do not despair, you will lose some fennel seeds along the way but they can be added back in later to the sauce if you wish.
Serve on a bed of pasta, with a generous dollop of sauce, a handful of balls and a grating of parmesan if the mood takes you. Or for any veggies out there, it’s completely suitable to make it without the meatballs and quicker too!
Completely and utterly divine. There may be hope for our marriage yet..