Risoni con Polpettini, Pomodorini e Caperi
Risoni with Fennel-seed Meatballs, Tomatoes & Capers
Who needs weather like this? Cold, rainy, windy- just plain nasty is what it is! Especially when you have to walk home through it! And all the way I was thinking of what I was going to concoct this evening... and was thinking thoughts of Sicily again- where I will be flying in just 6 short days! But, impatient as I am, I set about giving myself a sneak-preview this very evening... and how!
Capers are a very typically Sicilian ingredient and delicious in any number of recipes. I especially like these huge, succulent ones- they are so much more aromatic than the little ones. Fennel seed is also very important in Sicilian "salsiccia" or sausage- my favorite kind!
So already the path was clear and the flavors were decided on... it was just a question of how I could manage to pull it all together... and I did it like this...
I started out by forming simple little meatballs of ground pork and beef in a 50/50 mix, finely chopped onion, finely chopped parsley, chili flakes, salt, pepper, fennel seed and a little salted ricotta cheese which I finely grated. I started frying the meatballs in a dry, non-stick pan and then added a stalk of celery in relatively fine slices. Once the meatballs began to brown I added the risoni and stired everything together gently, so that they got coated in the juices that were forming in the pan.
I added about a cupful of boiling water and continued stirring gently- similar to the way you would make a risotto. I then added the zucchini slices and seasoned with salt and pepper, a little crushed garlic, a handful of finely chopped parsley, a little nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon.
After about 10 minutes I added the cocktail tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of tomato paste. I added another cupful of boiling water and stirred until the tomato paste was dissolved and equally distributed. I then turned off the heat and allowed them to sit for 4-5 minutes... finished! I served it with a light sprinkle of olive oil and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice- delicious on a cold Winter evening! Who cares what the weather is like outside!