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Mar 7, 2009 06:30 AM

SOS: need sides inspiration for tonight 3/7

I am having some friends over for dinner tonight and want to make Mario Batali's Veal and Ricotta Meatbals in Milk. These are very light meatballs with chopped pistachios and cornichons in them, simmered in chicken stock and milk, which forms a very light, broken sauce. He makes no suggestion of what to serve with them, I think because in Italy they would be served alone as a separate course. I would like to serve them American-style with a couple of sides but am stumped. Ideas?

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  1. How about his mint love letters? It's a vegetable and pasta in one package. I would use a very light sauce, maybe just butter.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      That's an interesting idea. They have asked for something not too heavy. I thought about saffron risotto (small portions) and haricots verts with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes while out for a walk. Would look pretty on the plate too.

      1. re: GretchenS

        Yes, you'd definitely need some color. The love letters would just be beige next to grey. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes. But your trio sounds great.

    2. Fennal salad? Just thinnly slice fennel, dress with lemon and olive oil and some good salt and freshly ground pepper.

      1. Do you have link to the recipe? Can't find it anywhere and it sounds yummy!

        1. I think the fennel salad sounds really lovely.
          I would add maybe some really mild simple roasted veg, like endive and maybe leeks that would love a swipe through the sauce on one's plate. If you wanted to be a bit more american and add a starch to the plate you could even do a small portion of really simple pasta w/ butter, parsley and parm.

          1. It is yummy. Here it is, ingredients as published [with my mods in brackets], directions paraphrased.

            Mario Batali's Meatballs with Ricotta and Milk (Polpette con Ricotta)
            8 ounces ground pork
            8 ounces ground veal
            8 ounces ricotta, preferably fresh
            2 large eggs, slightly beaten
            1/4 cup freshly-grated parmiggiano-reggiano
            1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
            6 cornichons, chopped [I use 8 or 9]
            3 pistachio nuts, chopped [seems like a typo, I use 2 heaping tablespoons and toast them]
            3 tablespoons unsalted butter
            1 cup chicken stock, or more if necessary [this is exponentially better with rich homemade stock but still worth making with storebought]
            1/2 cup whole milk [I use more]
            salt and freshly ground pepper

            Mix first 8 ingredients well, adding about 1/2 tsp salt. Chill if at all possible to help meatball formation. Form into 1 inch meatballs.

            Melt butter in heavy pan and brown meatballs in batches. When they are all brown, put them together in pan and add stock and milk to nearly submerge meatballs. Simmer covered about 15 or 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper as needed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GretchenS

              Thank you so much! Now I know what's for dinner. I think I'll serve it with gnocchi.