I seem to be having a bit of a meatball moment, right now.
I suppose, thinking about it for a moment or two, it is because (it seems) that whatever appears in meatball shape, son & heir will eat without demur. Quite apart from that being good for his health, it is also good for ours - as not having a sulky teenager picking disconsolately at his food, means that we can relax and enjoy our meal.
I note that I've got a meatball recipe coming up in the next week, too - so I'll have to back off on them a wee bit, or we'll all be suffering with meatball exhaustion soon.
This meatball recipe, however, was a bit different in that a) the meatballs contain grated carrot (see health comment, above) and b) they are cooked in the oven.
I was a tiny bit dubious as to the success of this recipe because of those two points and in the knowledge that I'd have to pep up the tomato sauce, to make it flavoursome enough to satisfy the family's taste buds. The original recipe stated to just cover the meatballs with a tin of tomatoes and that was it. I couldn't see how that would equate to a "tomato sauce" - it certainly didn't in my opinion! Now ordinarily, I'd fry off meatballs before making the sauce - then dunk the meatballs back in and the whole thing would be done on the hob.
With this recipe (the original of which can be found here on the BBC Good Food website and is created by Lucy Netherton), the meatballs are rolled, then placed into a baking tray and baked, then the tomatoes are added to the tray with some Parmesan cheese, baked a little more and served. Now I like this kind of dish. Cooking it in the oven in this way is fairly easy on the cook in that you don't need to stand (sit, in my case) over the cooker, watching and stirring. Instead I can spend some time doing the dishes (and reduce the amount that will need doing after the meal) or tidying up the kitchen (which often falls to hubby to do), or just plain go and have a sit down for 20 minutes or so. So I was intrigued to discover how the meatballs would fare, cooked in this way.
The other point is that, as you've got the oven on anyway, you might as well make the most of it and cook some of the accompaniments that way. Hence the Garlic Roast Potatoes. (I also included a lost and lonely parsnip. Well, it gave it a job to do!). These potatoes are billed as "crispy potatoes", but I fail to see how potatoes can get crispy, when you've got a pot of bubbling tomatoes in the same oven, which is filling it with steam. Mine certainly didn't. However, they were very tasty - and very moreish.
I used the Jelly potatoes that Greenvale Farmfresh had sent and very delicious they were, too. I am sure they would have crisped up, had it not have been for the steamy tomatoes, as they were demonstrating a degree of crispness, even so. The flavour of the potato stood up remarkably well to being mixed with the garlic and rosemary - both of which are very strong flavours that could easily have swamped out the natural potato. I'll definitely be looking for these spuds again in future. I just hope that they manage to get them into Asda supermarkets, as I hate our local Tesco!
Anyway, getting back to the meatballs - in order to pep up the tomato sauce, before mixing with the meatballs, I tipped the tomatoes into a bowl and added some tomato ketchup, a splosh of mushroom ketchup, a pinch of dried parsley, some salt & pepper and a teaspoon of paprika and gave it all a good mix. It certainly did the trick, as the tomato sauce was rich, tasty and did a good job replacing gravy where the vegetables were concerned. As a side point, the colour - enhanced by the paprika, no doubt - particularly, the red of the sauce against the green of the broccoli, was amazing!
This meal was quite ridiculously healthy and exceptionally low in fat. Any fat that might come from the Turkey is drained off prior to adding the tomatoes, so really the only fat you are ingesting is coming from the tablespoonful of olive oil used to cook the potatoes. Dividing that between three people and whatever was left on the baking tray, amounts to not a lot of fat!
The best bit of all, though, was that it was a tasty and satisfying meal. So many of these extraordinarily healthy dinners are just that - but don't last. Within an hour or so you're beginning to wonder what to put on some toast - and that's not the idea at all.
Everyone enjoyed this meal - and I'll bet not one of my chaps realised that there was a grated carrot in those meatballs.
BAKED TURKEY & CARROT MEATBALLS WITH GARLIC ROAST POTATOES (feeds 3)
1 onion, grated
1 large carrot, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped finely
450g turkey mince
4 large potatoes, skin on and cut into small cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
400g can cherry or chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp mushroom ketchup (or Worcestershire Sauce)
a pinch of dried parsley
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp grated Parmesan.
1. Pre-heat oven to 220degC (200degC fan)/425deg F/Gas 7.
2. In a large bowl, combine the onion, carrot, half the garlic, half the rosemary, some seasoning and the turkey mince. Give everything a good squidge around until it is evenly mixed.
3. Shape into 15 meatballs and place into a deep sided baking tray or oven proof dish.
4. In another bowl, toss the potato pieces with the remaining garlic, rosemary, more seasoning and the oil. Turn them out onto a shallow sided baking tray and give it a little shake to settle everything and ensure every little spud has a space around it.
5. Place both trays into the oven - potatoes on top, meatballs underneath - for 20 minutes.
6. In the meantime, you can prepare the tomato sauce by taking another bowl (I used one bowl and just washed it up in between times!) and adding to it the tomatoes, tomato ketchup, mushroom ketchup, parsley, seasoning and paprika. Give everything a good mix to ensure it's combined. If you can cope with cold tinned tomatoes, you can taste to check the seasoning.
7. At the end of the 20 minutes, remove the meatballs and drain the juices into the nearest dog's bowl. Add the tomato sauce mixture and turn the meatballs in it, to ensure everything is evenly coated.
8. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and replace into the oven to continue baking for another 20 minutes.
9. Turn the potatoes, to ensure even baking, and replace for the prescribed 20 minutes.
10. What you are aiming for, is lovely browned and (hopefully) crispy roast potatoes, and to have the tomato sauce bubbling well in the meatball tray.
11. Serve with some steamed broccoli, as a good combination and for awesome colour.