Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - , , , , , , , , , , , 4 comments

RECIPE : Polpettine (Little Tuscan Meatballs)

Well...I learnt something really interesting today while researching these little Tuscan meatballs. I learnt that in Italy they are NEVER served with pasta!
Having said that, my version of this dish is one of those beautifully versatile recipes. These tasty meatballs are baked in the oven in a delicious tomato and mushroom sauce. You can serve them as little appetisers,(as shown above), or with lashings of sauce on pasta, rice or with vegetables. (I won't tell anyone if you serve them with pasta!)


I've been making meatballs for many years and I've tried various methods. This one wins hands down for me because I pack so much flavour into the beef mixture, that the meatballs infuse with the sauce and the sauce infuses with the meatballs to make a truly delicious match made in heaven! I don't pre-fry my meatballs as they go hard like pellets. My trick is to put all the ingredients into a food processor to blend the mixture really fine, then literally form and drop them into the hot sauce to poach and bake in the oven. This way they have a roasted top but stay really moist.


This recipe works out to
19sp/20pp/approx.1231kcal for the WHOLE AMOUNT.
I've worked out some multiples for you....

1 polpettine=1sp/1pp/approx.37kcal


(For approx. 32-33 Polpettine)

For the Sauce:

1 tin Cherry tomatoes
1 700g jar passata
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 tablespoon artificial granular sweetener
Small punnet of mushrooms

1/2 tablespoon Piri-Piri seasoning 
or a pinch of chilli flakes

For the Polpettine:

2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
Mixed fresh herbs; sage, parsley, thyme
6 spring onions
60g chorizo
450g Extra lean minced beef


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

Put a large, flat pan on the hob. Add the tomatoes, passata, sweetener, puree, thyme and bay leaves.

Add the sliced mushrooms and chilli flakes or Piri Piri seasoning if you want your sauce to have a little kick.
Slowly bring the sauce to the boil while you make the meatballs.

Put the onion, garlic and fresh herbs into a food processor. Blitz until finely chopped.

Add the spring onions. Blitz.
Add the chorizo. Blitz again until really finely chopped.

Add the extra lean ground beef. It's really important to have chopped the herbs and garlic mixture and the chorizo before adding the beef, or you will not be able to blend everything evenly.

Blend until you have a really fine mixture. It should look like sausage meat. This ensures no large lumps of meat in the polpettine and all your seasonings and flavours will be evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Using a measuring spoon, scoop a flat tablespoon of mixture for each polpettine, before rolling by hand into a ball. This will ensure that each one is exactly the same size so you can propoint accurately.

 Roll into even little meatballs. I find this amount should make 32-33 perfect polpettine.

Drop each one gently into the hot sauce. You need to handle with care at this stage as they are soft until cooked. They squash easily.

Give each meatball its own space in the sauce.

Gently spoon a little sauce to cover each polpettine.

Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Don't touch it, don't stir it. I went for a walk with the dog while these were cooking!
Check they don't burn, but they should look like this-just 'catching' on the top. 
You can eat them at this stage, but if you have time, cover the pan with foil, turn the oven off and let them 'sit' in the sauce for as long as possible. This kind of dish is always better "the next day".

If you decide to serve them as hot little appetisers like this, then you will have a wonderful zero-propointed mushroom and tomato sauce to have another time with pasta or vegetables. If you serve them in their sauce, remember to add any propoints for pasta or rice.



If you find your sauce thickens up too much, especially after a day, loosen it off with some boiling water when reheating.


Perfect little polpettine.


Sunday, 3 September 2017 - , , , , , , , 6 comments

RECIPE: Crispy Butternut Squash 'Noodles'

These crispy 'noodles' are my latest
exciting invention!
Deliciously crispy, chewy and mouth-wateringly yummy, they are really easy to make- you just need two things....a decent spiralizer and some patience! 
The butternut squash is spiralized into long 'noodles', coated in a little oil, garlic puree and soy sauce before being roasted slowly for about 40 minutes. They need supervising and turning every ten minutes but the outcome is well worth the effort.

 They work out to 1sp/approx.150kcal per portion

Once you've mastered this basic recipe which is delicious in itself, these 'noodles' can form the basis for lots of other dishes-served with satay sauce, Thai curry or a simply a stir-fried vegetable dish.


YOU WILL NEED: (Serves 2)

1 medium butternut squash
(choose one with a long 'neck')

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon low salt soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic puree
black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6

Wash and dry the butternut squash thoroughly-this way you don't have to peel it!
(If you prefer you can peel of course)

Cut the bulb containing the seeds off. Set aside...this can be used for another meal and there will be no waste whatsoever!
(See end of this recipe)

Cut the top end off the 'neck' of the butternut squash.

Then cut in half...

Then quarters.

Centre each quarter onto the spiralizer and fix firmly into position.

Spiralize the butternut squash into long 'noodles' onto a flat plate.
(TIP; if you start to turn little moon shapes/small slices, simply recentre the vegetable on the spiralizer until you produce beautiful long 'noodles' again).

Put the finished spirals into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, soy sauce, garlic puree and black pepper to taste. I prefer to spray the oil as it's easier to distribute evenly. Mix well so that everything is coated with flavour.

Spread the seasoned 'noodles' into a flat layer on a large baking tray and pop into the preheated oven. It looks like there is a huge amount but they shrink down substantially once cooked.
Set the timer for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, check how they are cooking. You are aiming for these crispy pieces at the edge of the baking tray. Simply mix these into the centre and redistribute so that the least golden 'noodles' are now at the edges. Set the timer for another ten minutes.

Check again after ten minutes, stirring and redistributing the soggier 'noodles' to the edges again, being really cautious not to let them burn.
 You'll need to repeat this twice more so that the 'noodles' cook for 30-40 minutes. This will depend on your oven and the thickness of your spiralized vegetables, so monitor carefully-it really is worth the effort!

The aim is to have some really crispy and some more chewy in texture...once you're happy with your 'noodles', pile them into a bowl or in a mound on a plate and tuck in!





For a yummy meal for one on another day, simply microwave the bulbous part containing the seeds for ten minutes. Scoop out the seeds then pop everything into the oven for about 20 minutes until the seeds are toasted.

Fill with your favourite filling like you would a jacket potato
eg; cottage cheese, tuna, Greek yoghurt, maybe a drizzle of tahini and sprinkle with the toasted seeds to finish.
The basic butternut squash and seeds are zero Smartpoints so you only need to calculate for your filling!