Lentil and Spinach Polpette and Divided Opinions

Soundtrack: The Nod Podcast – Nobody Looks Like Me

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Spinach and Lentil Polpette

Star Rating:

Polpette: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sauce: One Star ⭐️

Honestly, I don’t know how to rate this meal. And it’s really making me interrogate how I use the star rating system. One part of this meal (the polpette) was excellent and I will definitely make them again. However, the other part (the sauce) was just strange. I would not make it again, nor would I recommend anyone else does.

So let’s unpack these separately.

I’m always skeptical about meat-free replicas of meat recipes. They seem to offer a promise they can’t deliver, and I’d prefer to either have the real thing or nothing at all.

However, these ‘meatballs’ have all the characteristics of a good meatball. They have a resistance when you bite into them, they are really flavourful, and have a salty sharpness from the pecorino. They’re pretty easy to make, wilting spinach in a dry frying pan and smushing up the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Roll them into balls and cook in the oven for 20 minutes and their done.

The sauce, while just as easy, was kind of a strange, sloppy mess. Full disclosure, I do not have a proper blender or food processor so the almonds didn’t break down as finely as the recipe probably intended, so part of the textural problem could be equipment based (although you do know what they say about workmen blaming their tools…) The flavour was… fine? It was just kind of sharp, and sour, and watery all at once and made the meatballs soggy which detracted from them entirely.

So the meatballs get four stars, and I will make them again as an appetizer, hors d’oeuvres, or to add to salads. The sauce was a solid one star and I will not make it again. If I gave an average that would make this a 2.5 start attempt, but that would be burying the lede. Sigh.




Pesto and Poor Organisation Skills

Soundtrack: Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Some version of this pesto (more or less)

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m really behind on this whole ‘make one recipe a week and write about it’ project, but in my defence I have been pretty busy. Let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that the last time I actually wrote about a recipe I made was April 4th…

This weekend was my first full weekend at home since late July. I had grand plans to make this spinach and lemon polpette from Anna Jones, until I realised that parts of my blender were sitting next to my desk at work. Yes, at work.

This is not the first time, nor the first workplace, that my cooking tools have found their way to. I remember getting ready to cook 8 hour pulled pork in my tiny Sydney studio (or ‘The Pod’ as we affectionately called it) only to realise that the last time I’d made 8 hour pulled pork was at work and I’d never bothered to bring the massive pot home, because laziness.

This time a colleague had returned the various instruments I’d left at her place when I’d cooked her and her family dinner post-baby. None of the pieces are nearly as large as a stewing pot, but they are still sitting next to my desk, because laziness.

So when it dawned on me that I didn’t have the blade or bowl for my mini-blender, and I wouldn’t be able to blend almonds and other various things, I decided to put off this recipe until Monday night.

Of course, I only made this discovery after I’d been to the supermarket, so I did have a whole lot of fresh ingredients in my house. And after a glorious day of flying, then seeing Bohemian Rhapsody with friends, I returned home to finally watch ‘Salt Fat Acid Heat’.

Serendipitously, in the first episode (Salt) she shows a gorgeous Italian woman making pesto with a mortar and pestle. The six pesto ingredients (basil, garlic, hard cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, salt) were all in my house, and I have a mortar and pestle (for mostly decorative reasons), so ever the opportunist I saw this as a chance to quickly make up for lost time AND to have a delicious dinner.

For those of you who know me, you know that I can’t eat dairy. HOWEVER, I can eat limited amounts of goat and sheep cheese. I’d bought a chunk of pecorino, which is basically sheep parmesan, and it was also burning a hole in my fridge. This made this meal a real treat because I LOVE cheese. It just doesn’t love me.

I really enjoyed making this. It’s so easy – roughly chop the basil and put it in the mortar (I just had to look up which bit is which), add the oil and some salt, and crush with the pestle until it’s fairly broken down. This is kind of therapeutic, TBH.

Once it’s semi paste-like, add finely diced garlic and lightly toasted pine nuts and keep pummelling. Once you’re happy with the texture, add grated parmesan/pecorino and keep blending. Now you should taste to see whether you need any more salt or oil or garlic. The cheese will keep breaking down, so be conservative with your seasoning (I sound like I know what I’m doing, but totally stole this tip from the link above).

Cook your pasta until it’s al dente and rather than mixing with the pesto in the pan, put a few dollops of pesto in the bottom of the bowl and then add the pasta straight from the water using tongs. Mix thoroughly and keep adding pesto to taste. I also added a good squeeze of lemon juice and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

God this was good. So much so that I can’t believe I’ve never made pesto before! For something with so few ingredients, it’s very impressive and it’s probably the only time in recent history that I’ve licked the preparation bowl and I wasn’t baking.

I used some weird vegetable pasta that apparently has a bunch of servings of veggies in it which explains the really green pasta in my photos. I liked the earthy flavour, but it would obviously also be good with regular pasta or even better – fresh, homemade pasta.


Prawn, Pea, Broccoli, and Lemon Orzo and Dialing It In

Soundtrack: ‘Wrong Creatures’ Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want to make the recipe: One Pot Lemon Orzo and Shrimp – Damn Delicious

Star Rating: Two mediocre stars 👎🏻👎🏻

When I cook something disappointing, it affects me on many levels. The first reason is a very straight forward equation – eating more delicious things > eating less delicious things. This is then combined with a faint feeling of remorse; what I could have done differently to avert such an outcome? What if I’d thought things through a little more? Surely I’ve been cooking for long enough to be able to foresee these kind of outcomes? And finally, I’m your typical over-achiever and I don’t like it when things I do don’t turn out how I want them to.

Which brings us to this week’s recipe. Full disclosure, I was totally dialing this one in. It was a grey and rainy day in Seattle and I didn’t feel like going out of my way to the supermarket on my way home from work, so I arrived at this recipe by Googling the ingredients I knew I had in the house.

I was also coming off a 24 hour fast, which is something new I’m trying out. You start after lunch on one day, and break the fast at lunch the following day, attempting to keep 24 hours between those two meals. As I’d not had dinner the previous evening, you’d think I would have been highly motivated to ensure that what I was cooking this night was guaranteed tasty, but my energy levels were low and with this came a certain degree of apathy.

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have predicted that this recipe would be so-so. Standing alone each ingredient is fine, but what’s missing from the mix is something which would give this meal what my friend Ping would describe as *P💥💥M*. I should ask Ping for her specific definition of*P💥💥M*, but in my experience this is a you-know-it-when-you-taste-it element that elevates good food to great. Sadly, this meal was not even*P💥💥M* adjacent.

Having said that, there were some positive elements to this dish. It mostly contains items I always have in my kitchen – frozen peas, frozen green prawns, pasta, dried herbs, chicken broth, garlic. I added broccoli and spinach because I am a vegetable freak and there is always room for more veggies. It also took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and could be cooked in one pot, so if you can tweak it to have some actual taste, this could be a good mid-week standard.

(Note: I omitted the parmesan cheese because of my fussy lactose intolerant gut, but I doubt this would have saved it. Also cheese and prawns? Ew)

In the end, this meal just didn’t taste like much. The canned tomatoes needed to be cooked down before being added, and without doing so the pasta was watery and anemic. I should have added more herbs and seasonings – some paprika or sambal or harissa would have given it a bit more life. To be honest, adding some chorizo with the onion and garlic would have done a lot to steer this back towards Flavourtown – or even swapping out the prawns for chorizo entirely.

This was nutritious and edible and good for you and entirely unsatisfying, which is why it only gets two stars. I eat reasonably healthily, but refuse to eat healthy food if it’s tasteless, and would never recommend anyone else do it either. Tasteless food makes me sad and it never satiates me. I end up eating more when it’s bland in a flawed attempt to hunt down what I’m actually after – taste.

You could make this if you wanted to, but I suggest you try any other recipe I’ve posted on here first*.

*Recommendation bound by date of post. Who knows what horror lurk in our future?