Thursday, 15 January 2015

Bake to the Future

Polpette di Cardi & Patate al Forno con Sugo di Pomodoro
Oven Baked Cardoon & Potato Patties with Tomato Sauce


Cardoons- absolutely adore them, BUT... for a single guy, it is not easy to manage one of those big bunches all on your own- which is why I still had half of mine left over from Saturday...

What to do? What to do? Well, I could have fried them in a simple batter, like we do in The Old Country and which happens to be my favorite preparation for them (especially when my mom makes them for me!)... or I could invent something equally simple but also new instead.

Being as my Dear Mamma is far, far away in sunny Sicily- what do you think that I did?


Obviously, as you can plainly see, I made something else- a cross between the fried cardoons I already mentioned and another favorite of mine, Sicilian potato patties. And do you know what? They turned out to be super-delicious and better still, they were also super-healthy as I baked them in the oven rather than frying them!


To make 10 of these little vegetable patties, I needed just 4-5 cardoon stalks, 2 small potatoes, 1 onion, 1 egg and enough breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese as was necessary to bind them- which will depend on the size of the potatoes, the egg and the stalks of course! Which is the whole reason that I do not attempt to offer you strict recipes, but much rather the rough guidelines for you to do your own thing. In my case I needed 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and 3 of breadcrumbs- you will have to judge for yourselves when you make your own.

For the sauce, I needed just 5 cherry tomatoes, half of the aforementioned onion, a little fresh basil and a good pinch of dried oregano.

But let's get started, otherwise you will never find out how to make them otherwise!


Because I know that you want to try these!


Especially when they are so crispy and golden on the outside and juicy and delicious within!


The first thing you need to do, is to peel the cardoons, making sure to get rid of all of those nasty sinews. Then cut them into a relatively fine dice and pop them into your saucepan to boil for a good half hour.

Peel and add the 2 potatoes, but simply cut them in half- this actually makes them easier to mash afterwards.


Once they are tender, drain the vegetables off, rinse them with cold water to cool them down and simply mash the potatoes with a fork before stirring them in with the cardoons.

Now add half of the onion, which I sautéed until it became transparent whilst the vegetables were boiling, the Parmesan cheese and the breadcrumbs and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.


Stir in the egg and add more bread crumbs if necessary, until you have a relatively firm consistency, similar to that of a ground meat mix for a hamburger.


Form the mixture into little patties and roll them in breadcrumbs with a little Parmesan cheese.

The only oil you will need, is a little, just to dip your fingers in, before you pick up the breaded patties and pop them onto your baking sheet... and then into a hot oven they go, at 180°C, for 10-15 minutes from each side.


In the meantime you can be preparing a simple tomato sauce to serve with them- for which you will simply need a little diced onion and cherry tomato.


As I already mentioned, I fried the onion in advance as I needed some for the patties, so to the other half I added the chopped tomatoes, about a tablespoon of tomato paste, plenty of oregano and a few leaves of basil. I fried these in olive oil for 3-4 minutes and in the meantime, boiled a little water, ready to add.


In went the water- enough to cover everything, a good pinch of salt and pepper, a hint of sugar... and a good 15 minutes of gentle simmering... and that was it! Simple, fruity, tangy, light and delicious!


I flipped the patties over a couple of times to make sure they got nicely and evenly brown... and yes, it took a little patience... but yes, it was really worth the wait!


Together- I would say that they made a pretty irresistible combination! Perfect as a side dish or for a great party dish- and equally delicious served hot or cold!


And although my absolute favorite part about them is that they were baked in the oven- of course you could fry these and have them finished much more quickly as well... but I like to just share my ideas and not to dictate.

As long as you try out these flavors together, I will be just as happy as can be... and somehow I reckon that you will be too!

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