This tasty and very satisfying pasta dish is brought to you courtesy of Chop Sizzle Wow; a new cookbook bringing together 50 quick and easy classic Italian recipes from the bible of Italian home cooking, The Silver Spoon, in a fun and engaging cartoon format.
I was sent a review copy, and as the press release said it is perfect for cooks young and old, I decided to put the children to work testing out one of the recipes.
Our chosen recipe was rigatoni with meatballs. Except we didn’t have any rigatoni, nor did the corner shop, so we went with penne instead. Jess and Mia loved the cartoon concept of the book and found the recipe fairly easy to follow, but they definitely needed some adult assistance from time to time; such as when they couldn’t get the meatballs to fry and brown without them disintegrating. At this point I stepped in and cooked up the meatballs in a separate frying pan.
But all in all the dish was a resounding success and the end result was very good. I think it’s one the kids will want to cook again. Oh, and they also have their eye on several recipes in the desserts section, such as the Chocolate Delight and the Stuffed Peaches.
The recipes in Chop Sizzle Wow are brilliantly simple and very easy to follow, although you probably do need a little kitchen nouse to fill in some of the gaps.
The book is divided into five sections: appetizers, pasta, main courses, deserts and baking, and extra stuff. There’s also a witty introduction giving an overview on how Italians cook and eat.
The illustrations by Brazilian illustrator and artist Adriano Rampazzo (a recent graduate of London’s Central St Martin’s art college) are fantastic and I’m sure this book will appeal to comic book fans, as well as those looking for an easy introduction to Italian cookery. I think it would make a great Christmas present for students returning to their uni digs after the holidays.
If you’d like to try those tasty meatballs yourself, here’s the recipe…
Pasta with meatballs
300g minced meat (our pack was 400g and we used all of it)
Half a clove of garlic (we used a full one – who saves half a clove?)
1 celery stick
1 sprig parsley (we decided this wasn’t enough, and used a small bunch)
1 sprig rosemary
350g rigatoni (we used penne)
plain flour for dusting
3 tbsp olive oil
25g grated Parmesan
Thinly slice the onion.
Chop the garlic.
Chop the carrots and celery.
Chop the parsley.
Chop the rosemary.
Lightly beat the egg.
Mix the meat, parsley and garlic. Then season and mix in the egg. Shape into small balls. Dust with flour.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a low heat.
Cook the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary for five minutes on a low heat.
Increase the heat to medium and add the meatballs. Cook until lightly browned all over. (This is where I had to jump in and rescue the meatballs because they were falling apart. I fried them in a separate pan and then added them back to the vegetables.)
Season and add the passata. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for 10 minutes, or according to packet instructions.
Drain the pasta, then add to the meatballs. Gently stir together and serve, topped with pasta.
Chop Sizzle Wow is available from the Phaidon online store and costs £12.95.
As this dish is a perfect one for older children to make themselves, I am entering it into the Family Foodies challenge, which I host with Eat Your Veg, where the theme for October is Cooking With Kids.
Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary copy of Chop Sizzle Wow from Phaidon Press for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.