It was only a week ago that I cooked this dish, but it seems like it was months ago! So much has happened - in the kitchen, anyway - since then!
So, scratching around in my brainbox, I seem to remember that I chose this recipe because a) I liked the "springtime" aspect of it and b) it was another "variation on a meatball", of which we must have quite a few, now.
I'm afraid that I rather killed the success of the dish for hubby, by using too much garlic in the meatball mixture (although the recipe states FOUR cloves of garlic - and I only put two!) and letting the sauce reduce too far before combining with the pasta .
However, son & heir and I both enjoyed our helpings - even if we were garlic-monsters for (probably) days afterwards. I'm a bit confused over the garlic thing, truth be told, as even though I use jumbo garlic (with big fat cloves) the recipe didn't state "four small thin garlic cloves" - it just said "4 garlic cloves, crushed". I reckon I'd have been fine with one clove of jumbo garlic and smaller meatballs, though. The garlic flavour was a teensy bit on the side of raw garlic, which means that the cooking - although it had cooked the mince through - hadn't done justice to the grated garlic contained in the meatballs. Smaller meatballs would solve that problem.
As for the sauce, well it was one of those cream sauces where you sit and watch it reducing to a suitable thickness, then think "is it too thin?" and leave it a bit longer - by which time it goes over and becomes too thick. I really should learn to keep a little bit of pasta water back, so that I can let a thick sauce down when it calls for it. Hey ho.
I included some shredded Little Gem lettuce in the recipe. Son & heir was aghast at this idea, imagining soggy wet hot limp lettuce. However, I put it into the sauce just fractionally before it was due to be served - and by the time it was served, the lettuce had just wilted and was still crunchy. Perfect!
The lettuce added an additional texture and flavour to the dish that sat well with the "Springtime" theme and meant that you didn't need to use quite so many peas to achieve the same appealing colour (or should that be "a-pea-ling" colour?).
Hubby also reckoned that the sauce lacked flavour, which I can see where he was coming from with it. I felt that the flavour was very subtle - and had been stamped all over by the sheer power of the garlic in the meatballs. As such, I've included a little Worcestershire sauce in my version of the recipe. I know that in pasta dishes like our Bacon & Leek Pasta, a little dash of Worcestershire sauce makes all the difference.
I might give this one another go - with less garlic, as per the recipe below - very soon and see if hubby likes it a little better. However, in the interests of sharing, you might find that husbands and fathers aren't so keen on this one, as the rest of the family are!
SPRINGTIME PASTA & MEATBALLS (feeds 3)
400g pork mince
1 small onion, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp lemon zest
50g grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
400g pasta of your choice (spaghetti or spirali work well)
150ml double cream
a good splosh of Worcestershire Sauce (to taste, effectively)
150g frozen peas (petits pois work well)
1 Little Gem lettuce, leaves separated, washed well and shredded
handful of parsley, roughly chopped.
1. In a bowl, mix the mince, garlic, zest and half the Parmesan, together with some salt & pepper. Shape into 16 or so small (walnut sized) meatballs.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs for 10-15 minutes, until a rich golden colour.
3. In the meantime, put a large pan of lightly salted water on to boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
4. Drain and reserve some 150ml of the cooking liquid.
5. Add the cream, Worcestershire sauce and a little of the pasta water to the meatballs, making sure the pan is deglazed at the same time. Stir well to combine, then taste for seasoning and adjust if needs be.
6. Add the peas and bring back up to temperature, bubbling until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are safely cooked through.
7. Add a little more pasta water if the sauce has reduced too far, then add the lettuce & parsley, stir through, combine with the pasta and serve immediately with the remainder of the Parmesan sprinkled over the top.