Roasted Fennel & Pine Nut Polpette

As each month draws to a close, I look forward with anticipation to the delivery of my subscription to the Delicious food magazine.  Each month I read it from cover to cover, devouring every detail and deciding which recipes to try.  It then gets passed to my husband who proceeds to tell me the recipes he wants me to try!

In true Retriever style, Angus delivers my latest edition fresh from the mailbox and thumbing through the pages, I see something that catches my eye.  Now that’s different.  I’ve cooked pork meatballs, beef meatballs and chicken meatballs but never roasted fennel and pine nut (non-meat)balls or Polpette if we want to use the correct Italian name.

As luck would have it, I had purchased a fennel bulb during my shop that morning at my beloved Farmers Market.  A quick check through the rest of the ingredients confirmed I was good to go with everything else coming from the pantry, fridge and garden.  This recipe serves four.

Roasted Fennel & Pine Nut Polpette

1 large Fennel Bulb, trimmed and cut into 3cm wedges

125ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tbsp Pine Nuts

1 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 long Red Chilli, seeds removed and roughly chopped (or chilli flakes to your taste)

3 Garlic Cloves

50g grated Parmesan

105gm fresh Breadcrumbs

1 Egg yolk

1/2 bunch Italian Parsley, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped

400gm can Chopped Tomatoes

1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.  Place fennel in a roasting pan, drizzle with 1tbspn of the oil and season and then roast for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the pine nuts and pumpkin seeds and return to cook for another 10 minutes until the nuts are toasted and the fennel is cooked through.

Finely chop the chilli and two garlic cloves in a food processor.  Add the fennel, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds and process until chopped but still chunky.  Add the Parmesan , breadcrumbs and egg yolk, season and then whizz to combine.

Grease a roasting tray with 1 tbspn of oil and roll the mixture into approx. 20 walnut sized balls.  Chill for about 15 minutes to firm up and then drizzle with oil and bake in a 200 deg C oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden

In the meantime, make the tomato sauce.  Heat the remaining oil in saucepan and add the thinly sliced remaining garlic clove and the parsley stalks.  Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomatoes and then half fill the tomato can with water and add that.  Add the balsamic vinegar and then bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes until thickened.  Allow to cool slightly and then process in the food processor until smooth.  Return to the pan and keep warm.

Divide the sauce between plates and top with the Polpette and sprinkle with parsley leaves.

This is a very tasty dish and if you feel like a break from protein and don’t feel like pasta or rice, it is a welcome change.  Thank you Delicious for another winner!

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