Sometimes, it takes a blogging event to provide just the right needed push to make something new. One of my Hanukkah presents from Ben was Nigella Express. I adore Nigella for her story-telling style and get almost as much pleasure reading her descriptions of cooking and food as I do some juicy chick-lit. So even though I had spent much time perusing this book on my living room sofa, I just hadn’t found the right recipe at the right time to break it out in my kitchen. Enter the Weekend Cookbook Challenge, a popular blogging even that challenges food bloggers with digging through their cookbook collection to find inspiration. This month, Ani from Foodie Chickie has chosen the theme as Nigella Lawson – I knew this was the perfect time to finally participate and finally use my new book.
For this meal, I involved my husband since I would need him to do the grocery shopping while I was out busy with other plans. We settled on the recipe for Mellow Meatballs, a dish involving red curry, butternut squash, and chickpeas. Nigella, the Domestic Goddess herself, insists that is it quite ok to use pre-packaged meatballs in this dish, but I had no problem mixing up my own. I used turkey to keep it healthy, but I imagine ground lamb would be delicious with the other flavors here too. One little instruction I didn’t quite understand was the cooking of the curry paste with the oil; I tried this but just ended up with burnt curry paste, so I instead mixed it with the coconut milk and added it later. Other than that, we quite enjoyed this dish and my husband is already asking for it again. Considering I halved the recipe, I still have coconut milk leftover. He just might get his wish later this week.
Mellow Meatballs (serves 4-6; I cut the recipe in half for the two of us)
from Nigella Express
3 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
40 organic mini meatballs*
1 tsp ground ginger (I used grated fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 14oz can coconut milk (I used light coconut milk)
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1 14oz can chickpeas, drained
12 oz diced butternut squash and sweet potato (this can be purchased from the supermarket; I used squash only)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp honey
cooked rice for serving
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat curry paste in oil in a large wide pan and when it starts sizzling, add the meatballs, turning them in the red oily mixture. Sprinkle over the ginger and cinnamon and fry the meatballs for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Stir in the diced squash and sweet potato, then the stock and honey. Bring the pan to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with rice and decorate with chopped cilantro.
*I made my own quick and easy turkey meatballs, using 8 oz of ground turkey, some minced garlic, onion, parsley, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs, and I used my smallest cookie scoop to form them.