Spaghetti with Crispy Shiitake Meatballs and Garlic Kale Passata
This pasta sauce really couldn’t be simpler, so it’s absolutely made for eating on a school night. However, let’s talk about these meatballs. They’re shockingly tasty! The shiitake bring the umami vibes and the texture is just perfect: tender and meaty but with a crisp bite on the outside. It’s one of my favourite comfort food dinners and I make it whenever I need cheering up.
For the Meatballs
50g dried shiitakes (soaked in boiling water for 30 mins)
1 medium red onion (very finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
50g gluten flour
50g gram flour
1/2 tsp smoked pap
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp old bay (just use a mixture of celery powder, garlic powder and onion powder if you can’t find it)
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soy sauce
For the Spaghetti and Sauce
200g spaghetti (dried)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic (minced finely)
4 large leaves of curly kale (destemmed and shredded finely)
1 tin peeled plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper
To Make the Meatballs
Preheat the oven to 180c. In a roasting tray pour a good few glugs of vegetable oil - around 5-6 tablespoons. Place in the oven to heat.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. Pulse a few times until the shiitakes are finely chopped but nowhere near pureed. Remove from the food processor and place in a large bowl.
Add all the remaining meatball ingredients to the bowl, besides the flour.
Mix everything together in the large bowl until it forms a moist spongy dough. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead briefly with your hands (just a few mins will do).
Take a large plate and sprinkle over with the flour. Now divide the dough into 16 even sized balls and roll them on the floured plate to coat.
Place the meatballs on the preheated oven tray and bake for 30 minutes, turning every ten minutes.
To Make the Spaghetti and Sauce
Boil the spaghetti in a saucepan filled with salted water until al dente. Make the sauce as below while it boils. When the spaghetti is ready, drain and toss with olive oil to stop it sticking. Return the spaghetti to the pan, cover and set aside.
Using a medium frying pan for which you have a fitting lid (or suitable sized plate) heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook until starting to brown. Add the shredded kale and sautee gently for a minute.
Throw in around 4 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave the kale to cook for two minutes.
Meanwhile, open the tin of chopped tomatoes and transfer them to a large bowl. Using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes making sure there are no large pieces. Once the kale is cooked, add the tomatoes to the kale pan and bring the heat back up to medium with the lid on. Cook for around 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced and are bubbling nicely. Give it a stir and reduce the heat to a low simmer for a further minute or so. Replace the lid. If the tomato sauce thickens too much, loosen it with a spoon full of pasta water.
When the sauce is done, add it to the spaghetti and serve, topped with meatballs.