Bacony tomatoey pasta
Valentine's Day Ideas on a budget

I have been making these rather wonderful nut balls for decades and can’t now remember where I got the original recipe from, I suspect it is a Cranks one.

They are very simple to make, not requiring any complicated method, equipment or skills, although you’ll need to be able to chop the nuts and make breadcrumbs. They can’t really be frozen as they turn to mush, but they don’t take very long

Nut Balls in a Tomato Sauce

Ingredients for nut balls

Priced at Asda using mySupermarket in February 2018

Nut Balls

1 onion, 65p/500g, 13p
100g value salted peanuts, 48p/200g, 24p
Tblsp oil, £1.09/litre, 2p
50g breadcrumbs, 55p/800g loaf, 3p
50g grated cheese, smartprice Red Leicester, £3.49/830g, 21p
2 tblsps tomato purée, 70p/200g, 10p
1 egg, free range mixed weight (15) 13p
Half tsp dried thyme 69p/17g, 4p

Tomato Sauce

2 tins tomatoes, 35p a tin, 70p
Tblsp oil, £1.09/litre, 2p
1 onion, 65p/500g, 13p
Bay leaves if available

Serves 4

Total cost £1.75. Cost per serving (4) 44p

Total nutrition 1529 calories, 19g carbs, 108g fat, 61g protein
Nutrition per serving (4) 382 calories, 19g carbs, 27g carbs, 15g and protein

For the nut balls – chop the onion and fry in the oil until transparent. Leave to cool. Whizz the nuts to rubble in a liquidiser or food processor. If you have neither of these, use a large sharp knife and finely chop them. We want teeny lions here, not a powder. Place the nuts in a bowl. Add all the other nut ball ingredients. Season well. Add the onion once cool and squidge everything together. Shape into 8 balls. Place in a dish that just fits them, not too big, or the sauce will burn.

Nut balls

For the tomato sauce – slice and fry the second onion. Simmer with the tomatoes, and bay leaves, if using, for a few minutes. Season well, I used 1 tsp salt, 2 tsps sugar, 0.5 tsp ground pepper. Pour the sauce over the nut balls.

Nut balls in tomato sauce

Bake at 180c for 25/30 minutes

 

 

Verdict

These are really good and don’t take long to make. Unfortunately, they don’t freeze, once defrosted, they are just a mush. I haven’t tried it, but you could, I suppose, freeze the mixture for the nutballs and the tomato sauce separately, then shape after defrosting.

Variations

I usually made these with the bags of chopped nuts, which are mainly peanuts, until I noticed that the value salted peanuts are half the price. I’ve also done them with nuts from the larder, I tend to buy lots at a time. So I’ve done walnuts, almonds, Brazil’s, and a mixture. All of which worked well. These particular ones were made using Brazil nuts.

Use gf breadcrumbs and it’s gluten free. Omit the egg and cheese, and it’s vegan and dairy free. I would add a little flour if you leave out the egg, to help the balls to bind together.

You could add curry spices or paste to the nuts. Or chilli, ginger and soy for an Asian flavour. Or a little Thai green, red or yellow paste. Add just a few black beans, some lime juice or zest, chilli and a sprinkle of oregano for a taste of Mexico.

Serve with flatbreads, warm from the pan, chappati, rice, mashed white or sweet potato, noodles, on pasta, a pile of stir fried veg or just plain and simple green peas.

 

Nut balls in tomato sauce

 

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Bacony tomatoey pasta
Valentine's Day Ideas on a budget
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