5 October 2012

I am Hosting Presto Pasta Nights and Dreaming of Italy with Le Migliori Polpette di Tonno (The Best Tuna Meatballs)

Only 15 more sleeps and I will be basking in the warm sunshine on the coast of Italy, hiking along the Path of the Gods and creating amazing dishes in some Italian kitchens. The Amalfi Coast seduces its visitors not only with its jaw dropping panoramas and the intense blue sea, but also with the flavours and tastes of the local traditional gastronomy. Each town and village, not only on the Amalfi Coast, but everywhere in Italy features typical specialties using their local products.
Le Migliori Polpette di Tonno
What better way to anticipate an upcoming trip to the land of durum wheat than to host Presto Pasta Nights which has been the baby of Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast for over 5 glorious years. Whenever we feel the urge for some pasta we can go over to her site and have years of entries from all over the world to choose from, from pasta salad to lasagna to Pho. There is a pasta for every season, every ingredient and every taste. All of these delicious pasta dishes have been submitted by all of you!!!  Ruth says, " Every week food bloggers photograph and write about their latest pasta creation… if it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner; served hot or cold; spicy or sweet; from appetizers to mains to desserts." This week the event is being hosted by yours truly so send your pasta dishes along. I see that the latest edition is out and I have already receive one entry so I thought I better post this today.
1) Write your post and e-mail your permalink to me at valleygurl43(at)hotmail(dot)com  and Ruth at Ruth(at)4everykitchen(dot)com for a back up by Thursday evening so that it can be included in Friday’s roundup. 
2) Include a photo of your dish. 
3) Don’t forget to tell us the name you to go by, your blog’s name, and the name of your dish.  
4) Be sure to include a link to my blog http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com and a mention to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast http://onceuponafeast.blogspot.ca with the words Presto Pasta Nights or a link to http://www.prestopastanights.com in the post.
On my sojourn in Italy I will be visiting the sleepy little fishing village of Cetara in the province of Salerno which is famous for its "colatara di alici" an elixir extracted from the pressing of salted anchovies, once upon a time called garum by the ancient Romans. But not to be missed in Cetara is the Tunna fish preserved in olive oil. Cetara is a fishing town with one of the most well equipped tuna fishing fleets of the Mediterranean. In honour of the tuna of this coast I prepared a Sicilian-inspired dish from Jamie Oliver.  Like Jamie just about everyone I know is a fan of meatballs, so I thought I’d share a version of his recipe for traditional polpette, since they are something a little different. Public announcement...there was no canned tuna harmed in the making of this dish. These have to be made with fresh fish and subtly seasoned with Sicilian herbs and spices. This recipe is just as good as the meat versions! Serve over some infamous Gragnano pasta and you will be whisked away to the azure blue seas of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Back to The Future

Before I get to the recipe I am resurrecting a feature here at MTBT. Over five years of blogging I have found many wonderful recipes to share on these pages. Some from my own kitchen, some from your creative blogs and web sites, and some from well known celebrities and chefs. I was feeling a little nostalgic and was browsing these very pages just the other day, creeping back to the very beginning in 2007 when More Than Burnt Toast was in it's infancy and no more than "knee high to a grasshopper". We all have those stellar recipes from when we first started when we were lucky enough to find one comment and have maybe one reader; in my case even before I was taking photos of the dishes I prepared.

So here are a couple of flashback recipes from the very first baby steps here at MTBT with...

Le Migliori Polpette di Tonno (The Best Tuna Meatballs)
a recipe by Jamie Oliver

For the tomato sauce

Olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 14-oz. cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

For the meatballs

14 oz.fresh tuna
olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 3/4 cups stale breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon

To make the tomato sauce add a liitle olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, and sauté slowly for 10 or so minutes, until translucent. Add oregano, tomatoes, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, then blend until smooth. Taste, add red wine vinegar and stir. Set aside.

Chop the tuna up into 1-inch pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pine nuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a minute or so to cook the tuna on all sides and toast the pine nuts. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 minutes, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest, and juice to the bowl. Using your hands, really scrunch and mix the flavours into the tuna, then divide the mixture and squeeze it into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping, you’ll get a nice smooth surface on the meatball. If the mixture’s very sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs. Keep the meatballs around the same size and place them on an oiled tray, then put them in the fridge for an hour to let them rest.

Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil. Add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about until they’re golden brown all over. You might want to do them in batches- when they’re done, add them to the tomato sauce, divide between your plates, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and drizzle with good olive oil. Great served with spaghetti or linguine.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. What a comforting dish Val. I bet you can't wait for Italy. I would be on pins and needles.

  2. A great event. That dish looks amazing and so good. I love the fact that you made fishballs instead of meatballs. Yummy!



  3. First, thanks for hosting this week and for being a PPNer since the beginning. It is fun to to find a foodie friend all those years ago and still be friends today.

    Enough shmaltziness... I'm also green with envy of your upcoming trip. I can't wait to hear all about it.

  4. I'm fascinated with this recipe, Val. It's just bumped several other entries on my must-try. list. Your upcoming adventure sounds sounds delightful.I can't wait to see the dishes you'll be bring back to share with us. Have a grand weekend. Blessings...Mary

  5. Very insteresting indeed....It looks realy good Val...

  6. Sweet dreams I'm sure! Delicious looking dish.


  7. Val in a month I'll be visiting my son in China. Excited for your trip. Can't wait to read about it. Your meal looks yum!

  8. I would be so excited too! What a perfect dish to celebrate your upcoming trip.

  9. I'm so excited for you and your trip!! Those tuna meatballs intrigue me...I've never seen cinnamon paired with fish before!

  10. Even the tuna tastes better in Italy ~ seriously!
    I usually stash a few cans in my suitcase.
    I am excited for your photos and trip exploits!

  11. I am so excited for you. But also terribly jealous.

  12. Wish I could get good tuna here! You have yourself an amazing vacation.

  13. What delicious Vall I love pasta!xo

  14. I love the tuna meatballs!!!! And I'm jealous of your trip to Italy (in a good way). It sounds fantastic. I hope you have great weather (along with the great food)

  15. That is an awesome dish...Totally perfect in preparation for Italy. You no doubt are going to have an awesome time.


  16. Very interesting polpette: I like all the ingredients you used to make them. Gragnano is indeed good pasta.

  17. This begs to be made - when it's just the adventurous husband and me and I don't need to hear the moaning about the "traditional meatballs!" Loved visiting the early days of the blog. It was stunning then.


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