There’s little doubt in my mind that Jamie’s Food Revolution is one of my favourite working cookbooks. I’ve tried half a dozen recipes from it, and I often re-do many of them. I haven’t bought store-brand spaghetti sauce in over a year and am constantly trying out new things that eventually make their way into our weekly cooking. However, it was a bit of a special weekend up north (my birthday, shhh) and my RRHB asked me what I wanted for my *special* meal. It took me days and days to decide until I said one morning, “I want spaghetti and meatballs.”
Now, pause for a moment while I explain that I’m actually mainly vegetarian. But lately we’ve been eating locally raised poultry that we buy from a butcher in the city. It’s really the only meat that I eat so our “meatballs” are actually ground chicken and not beef and/or pork. The first time I made this recipe, I did beef meatballs for our friends who came for dinner, and chicken for myself. This time, we just did chicken. I think they’re delicious. However, note that my RRHB and my brother think they’re good but that they don’t exactly taste like the real deal.
This time around I had fresh herbs from my garden (the recipe calls for rosemary, basil and dried oregano; I used fresh because that’s what I had on hand), two cans of organic tomatoes, and a pound of happy chicken (as I like to call it). We bought whole wheat pasta at the grocery store, but up until about fifteen minutes before we left, I entertained bringing my pasta maker just because it might be fun. In the end it seemed a bit too ambitious for the confines of my grandmother’s cottage kitchen.
For the sauce, I also used up the first of my summer squash, a little cocozelle that I had picked the previous afternoon before we left for up north. The picture here is just after chop-chop-chopping the onions.
The last time I made the meatballs — and they were a disaster. They were too big and fell apart a little when we tried to fry them. This time, as my RRHB said, he staged an intervention. His were perfectly cylindrical, sized just right, and cooked in no time. By then, my sauce was ready so we put everything in the pot to simmer together. It smelled divine.
The ideology behind Jamie’s Food Revolution — rediscovering how to cook simple, delicious meals — is utterly vindicated with this recipe. All tolled it took us about 45 minutes to make everything from scratch, with the exception of fresh pasta, and it truly was a delicious birthday feast. Even if it wasn’t technically spaghetti and “real” meatballs. My RRHB (pictured above) was actually much happier than this eating dinner. I can’t recommend this cookbook enough — from the simple, delicious soups to more complex meals like a full roast chicken (at least for me!), there’s something to be said about this movement towards teaching yourself some basics. In the end, the biggest cooking lesson I’ve learned from Jamie is that it doesn’t have to be complicated to be truly mouth-wateringly yummy.