Sometimes I forget that Handsome is just four years old.
I remember when Pretty Girl was that little, I used to spend a lot of time making food that she would and could enjoy. Often this entailed making a separate meal for her, but even doing that was never a huge problem for me as Dear Husband and I would not usually want to eat as early as her little tummy required. Pretty Girl was never a fussy eater, as happy with last night’s leftovers as she was with hot buttered toast.
Fast forward four years and Pretty Girl has a palette which has matured to match those of our own, and while her tastes run the full gauntlet from pizza to sushi, she still enjoys almost everything I give her for dinner with the huge exception of the most “horrendous vegetable on earth” cauliflower.
When Handsome arrived he did so with an astounding appetite for one so little, and even today carries that same inclination towards food, which never really falters unless he is notably ill. I pretty much skipped months and months of pureed food as he always seemed to prefer something more substantial to gnaw on. Sensing his urgency to eat well, his tiny teeth obliged by arriving early and he was soon eating the chopped up version of whatever was on the family dinner table.
But now at four, I am remembering that sometimes a four year old just wants to eat a bowl of pasta for dinner and call it a day. Simple food is exactly what this boy of mine is after. By 3pm each day – the time that little tummy starts wondering about dinner – I receive his dinner request which is: ‘noodles with some chicken’. And yes, Handsome really does think that chicken is a side dish.
So I lovingly made these Chicken Meatballs & Fresh Pasta for my precious Handsome and because the menu included the words “noodles” and “chicken” all the effort made for one very happy boy.
In this recipe I use an ingredient called Umami Shake. Umami Shake is the love child of fellow blogger Jackie Buss over at Inspired by Food. I met Jackie online during the Freshly Blogged competition and finally got to meet the eloquent and chatty Jackie herself at this year’s South African Food and Wine Indaba.
Jackie sponsored a bottle of Umami Shake in the amazing goodie bags which each delegate received. After hearing all about Umami and bearing witness to Jackie’s catchy enthusiasm for this product, I was really looking forward to trying it out. In a nutshell, Umami Shake is a completely natural seasoning using shiitake mushrooms, garlic, himalayan pink salt and a special blend of herbs, but to read all about Umami and why it is so naturally great you can click here to read Jackie’s own words.
To order your own bottles of goodness, contact Jackie herself via her website or email jackie(at)inspiredbyfood(dot)co(dot)za.
I do think that it was the Umami that made my kiddos ask for any and all leftover meatballs to be put into their lunchboxes. I do also think however, lest you are not able to wait to receive your own bottle of Umami Shake, that even without it, if seasoned really well, your meatballs will taste just as great.
- 200 g flour
- 2 eggs
- 2.5 ml (¼ t)salt
- 15 ml (1 T) olive oil
- 30 ml (2 T) butter
- 30 ml (2 T) sunflower oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 leek, thinly sliced
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 30 ml (2 T) parsley, chopped
- 4 x 410 g cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 115 g tomato paste
- salt, pepper and sugar to taste
- 1 medium sized onion, halved
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 large fresh chicken breasts, chopped
- 250 g (1 packet) streaky bacon, chopped
- 65 ml (¼ C) Italian parsley, chopped
- 65 ml (¼ C) basil leaves, chopped
- 5 ml (1 t) Umami Shake
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 15 – 30 ml (2-3 T) sunflower oil
- 500 - 750 ml (2 -3 C) basic tomato sauce
- for serving: fresh tagliatelle noodles, cooked
- grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves
- To make the dough, place the flour, salt and oil into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix.
- Add the eggs and pulse until the mixtures comes together in a ball.
- Remove the dough from the processor and knead to smooth.
- Form into a ball, cover with cling film and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out according to the pasta machine instructions.
- Cut the rolled dough into tagliatelle.
- Bring a large pot of salty water to the boil.
- Add the tagliatelle and cook for 2 -3 minutes until al dente (firm to the bite)
- Drain well and serve immediately.
- Heat the butter and oil, add the vegetables and fry until soft. Stir in the garlic, parsley, Rhodes Whole Peeled Tomatoes and Rhodes Tomato Paste, bring to the boil and season to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Puree until smooth and use as required. You can freeze any leftovers in small quantities to be used at a later stage.
- Place the onion and the garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the chicken, bacon and herbs and pulse until the mixture is evenly minced and well mixed.
- Add the Umami Shake and season well with the salt and pepper.
- Using damp hands roll the mixture into even sized balls and place onto a baking sheet. Place the chicken meatballs into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
- To cook, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and slide the meatballs into the hot oil, cooking on all sides until golden. Add 2 – 4 ladles of the Basic Tomato Sauce to the pan and gently bring to the heat. Continue to cook over a medium heat until the chicken meatballs are cooked through.
- Serve over hot cooked noodles, sprinkled with the parmesan cheese and basil leaves.