“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child
I have October all written up and ready to post: it just needs pictures (which shall come on Friday). In the meantime, I couldn’t find a recipe for what I had in mind tonight, so I decided to wing it! T and I really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d share the recipe here (this is the fancy free part… it’s not all travel around here, though we did just get home from Scotland last night).
So here’s what happened: last night on the way home from the airport, we had 15 minutes to kill until our bus came. We decided we’d have meatballs and rice, and picked up a pre-made tomato sauce. When we got home, there was an awesome care package waiting for us from Canada, and it included Kraft Mac & Cheese, so of course our dinner plan went out the window! Tonight, I got home from work thinking “I should do something with the meatball/rice/tomato sauce we had planned” but it was no longer 10pm on a travel day so I wanted to give it some pizzazz and amp up the health factor. We used a store-bought tomato sauce because, well, last night it was too late for major cooking endeavours and now I had this sauce to make use of.
We shall call it… Meatball Bake (I never said I was going to be the next cook book author, to be fair)
12 uncooked meatballs (from scratch or store, whatever suits you- but keep it simple)
250 ml (1 cup) basmati rice
1 425g jar of tomato sauce (I used the Loyd Grossman Bolognese)
250ml boiling water
125ml cold water *see step 6
1 small-medium carrot
1/2 yellow pepper
2 stalks celery
3 chestnut mushrooms
1/4 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch each of ground pepper and sea salt
1 tsp avocado spread
1 tsp grapeseed oil
glass measuring cup
rectangle casserole dish
fork (for stirring rice and water)
Optional: garlic press
I try to keep dishes to a minimum on weeknights, but a one-dish version of this takes a lot longer. It’s worth washing up a frying pan to cut the cooking time in half! You may have noticed that the sauce and veg cover most colours of the rainbow. This dish is an easy way to get a few servings of vegetables, and each colour of vegetable has unique health benefits, so we try to eat as many colours each day as we can. We’re just trying to balance our diet, but depending on your personal needs, specific colours may be more important for you than others. The British Heart Foundation has some tips that are worth checking out 🙂
- Rinse 250ml basmati rice in boiling water to remove some starchiness
- Re-cover the rinsed rice with 250ml boiling water, set aside
- Dice vegetables, sauté in avocado spread and grapeseed oil (Pro tip: start with the mushrooms, then the other veg, and add the garlic just for the last minute or two so it doesn’t get burnt, especially if you’re cooking on a gas hob like I am!)
- Set veg aside, panfry meatballs to lightly brown on each side, then add a few tablespoons of water and steam for 3 minutes
- While the meatballs steam, pour rice/water combo into a casserole dish, pour the sautéed veg on top
- Pour tomato sauce over meatballs, adding 125ml of COLD water to the jar to rinse it out (waste not!) and stir over medium heat until just beginning to boil. Safety note: this needs to be cold water, as pouring hot water into a glass jar and shaking/putting a lid on it will create potentially dangerous pressure
- Pour meatballs and sauce into casserole dish, cover tightly with kitchen foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes at 180 degrees celcius
* Optional: uncover and top with some grated cheese (I used a soy cheddar alternative) in the last few minutes
Heat it up: Letting the rice sit while you prep everything else, heating the liquids, and doing a quick panfry and steam of the meatballs really speeds up the cooking time, as a dish like this with raw, cold ingredients will typically call for about an hour and a half in the oven, and who has time for that on a weeknight?
A note about oil: We also love cooking with avocado oil but we ran out.. and be sure to keep your oils in a cupboard, away from the light to help prevent them from going rancid. If your oil smells bad, it’s time to take it to a recycle centre and get a new bottle! Rancid oils can be harmful for you over time, and it’s never a good idea to “save” or reuse your cooking oil. Check out LiveStrong for more info.
I’ve never written out or shared a recipe, so if you try it and have any feedback or questions, please let me know! Bon appétit!