Meat free ricotta balls are a great alternative to meatballs when combined with lovely tomato sauce and pasta. They are also yummy as a snack.
You will find these are so versatile and you can experiment by adding different flavours to them like paprika, cayenne, chilli, cumin or even chopped up sundried tomato. If you are going for a less healthy option you could add a square of mozzarella for a melt in the middle finish.
Kids love these, my 2-year-old son ate nearly half a batch yesterday over lunch. Here is the basic recipe.
Note to my American followers – I have added American measurements in – these are approximate, but I believe they are correct, please let me know if you have any issues
Serves 4 if serving in tomato sauce with pasta or bread –25 balls
Freeze these once the are cooked. To reheat thaw, wrap in foil and heat in the oven on 190C, 170C Fan, 373F, Gas 5 for 10 minutes
Ricotta – 1 Tub (250g) – 1 cup
Egg x 1 yolk only
Grana Padano grated 50g – 1/2 cup
Garlic clove crushed x 1
Bread crumbs – panko/dried – 60 g – 1 /2 Cup
Black pepper and a pinch of salt
Oil for greasing baking tray
- Heat oven to 190C, 170C Fan, 373F, Gas 5
- Lightly grease a baking tray with oil
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl
- Ensure they are well mixed with a fork
- Shape into little balls about 2cm/1 inch balls (mixture makes around 25 balls)
- Place on a baking tray
- Place in oven on a medium to high shelf
- Bake for about 15 minutes until golden
- Serve in tomato sauce with pasta or bread – alternatively eat them on their own as a snack
As we are in January and probably all attempting to eat more healthily, here is a lighter alternative to Carbonara – I find it just as satisfying.
To reduce the calories further I often use a cream substitute such as Emlea because you can’t really taste the difference, I also grill rather than fry the bacon. The peas are cooked for a long time, such is the way with a lot of Italian cooking, that they take on a lovely flavour and softness which makes them especially palatable for kids.
This is a very cheap dish, so great all round.
Can be frozen then re-heated in microwave or pan, but you may find you need to add a little extra liquid such as milk or water.
Pancetta or smoked bacon 150g
Red onion x 1
Olive oil – 1 tbs
Frozen petit pois (or normal peas) 150g
Single Cream 250ml
Chicken Stock 250ml
Back pepper to taste
Grana Padano (or parmesan) 50g
- Grill the bacon on a medium heat until crispy – set aside on kitchen roll to absorb the excess fat
- While the bacon is grilling, finely chop the onion
- Heat the olive oil in a large non stick pan on a medium heat
- Add the onions to the oil and cook until translucent and soft
- Cut the bacon into 1cm squares, it find this easier with scissors (I also remove all the fat, but that is up to you)
- Add bacon to the onions once they have softened
- Put in the peas and then heat until no longer frozen
- Season with black pepper and then add stock – I find this to be enough seasoning considering saltiness of the bacon, but do add salt if you prefer
- Cook on a medium, stirring occasionally until almost all the liquid had absorbed (just a bit should remain) this will take around 25 minutes. Once it reaches this stage add the cream and heat it until it simmers
- In the meantime boil some water, cook the rigatoni until al dente and drain
- Add the pasta to the cream sauce and stir in half the cheese
- Serve immediately sprinkled with the excess cheese