Friday, April 2, 2010
An Updated Comfort
I have a theory about comfort foods that many of you probably won't like. Yeah, ok, I know I'm going to make some enemies, but here it goes. A lot of foods that I see as being "comfort foods" are only comforting whilst you're eating them. An hour later, that comfort becomes indigestion, bloating and a whole bunch of other things that I shouldn't mention on a food blog. This is my dilemma. So how have I fixed that? Well, up until recently, I just practiced my willpower and simply abstained. But that's no fun at all .. right?
Enter: creative, thoughtful chef-trained partner who is constantly thinking of ways to make rich foods lighter so that I can partake. Aren't I so lucky? :) Over the past few years, I've had macaroni and cheese made with skim milk, cream-free creamy tomato sauce (the creaminess came from roasted eggplant!), and the silkiest, creamiest butternut squash soup sans dairy or soy. The other night, I came home to pasta and meatballs, an updated version. It wasn't covered in rich cheese or a heavy, thick sauce that had been simmering all day. It was light, yet hearty with a beautiful fresh, broth-y sauce that went so well with the coming of spring. And to top it off, it was cooked in a beautiful Bodum glass casserole dish that we found at a thrift shop.
Now, I take absolutely NO credit for this recipe; but seeing as my partner is too shy to blog and I didn't want this wonderful recipe to be overlooked, I'm giving it to you now. I'll also let you know that it was quite a struggle getting the recipe and method down. These chef-types cook on a whim, so I apologize if some of the instructions are a bit vague. I hope you'll try it anyway, and I hope you'll be inspired to update some old favourites.
Spring time Pasta and Meatballs
1 pound of ground chicken
2 egg whites
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (we used panko)
3 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary
1 thai red chili, minced
a dash of hot sauce
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
one small onion finely diced
3 cloves of garlic cut in half
1/2 cup of water
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (the no-salt added kind)
1. Put the first 10 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix together gently until everything is incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. Use your hands -- they work the best!
2. Shape the meat into balls and let it rest, covered, in the fridge for an hour.
3. Using a wide skillet and a bit of olive oil, brown the meatballs in batches and set aside.
4. In the same pan, saute the onions until brown. Add the water to de-glaze the pan, making sure you get all the brown chicken-y bits from the bottom. Add the tomatoes and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
5. Put the meatballs in an oven-safe casserole dish and add the tomato mixture on top. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until the meatballs have cooked through. Now would be a good time to put on the pasta!
6. When the meatballs are done, dump in the pasta and stir it around. Let it sit (if you can wait!) for about 5 minutes so the pasta soaks up some of the liquid and gets extra yummy.
7. Enjoy, knowing that this time, that comforting feeling is going to last..