I am embarrassed that a year later, I am finally sharing with you one of my favorite cookbooks. It is not a big secret. I think it is because I love these books and the people who have written them, so much, that I cannot put pen to paper. Jennifer Perillo wrote the cookbook Homemade with Love, and it truly is a book full of love, and I am not even talking about the recipes alone. One of my favorite recipes is this one for Lentil Ricotta Meatballs.
I met Jennie some time ago, during a press trip in Healdsburg. When we heard of each other being on the said trip, we could not wait to meet each other in person as our online conversations not only revolved around food but also life. Instantly upon meeting Jennie, I wished that we were neighbors and that we could bring our families together around the same table to break bread. I enjoyed hearing her speak of the love of her life, Mikey, with a twinkle in her eye as she told me a story of him doing dishes. I still think of that story every time I do dishes. What also drew me to her as well as her food blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen, is that she was a home cook that enjoyed doing things from scratch; there was a woman after my own heart. I felt somewhat as if we were kindred spirits.
Unfortunately, in 2011, Jennie lost the love of her life unexpected. Time passed, and that sparkle begins to start shining again, and she slowly got back into the kitchen and proceeded to write this delightful cookbook, Homemade with Love. There are so many things about this book that I enjoy, from the chapter on setting up your kitchen and pantry; great tips for the new home cook, to snacks that should be enjoyed during movie night at home. Everything in between is wholesome as well as nourishing.
I enjoy a cookbook that does not fail me and each recipe is right on in Homemade with Love. If it says it makes 10 it makes 10 as well each dish is seasoned perfectly. Every time, I make a Jennie recipe, I feel as if she is welcoming me at the front door with a cup of coffee to enjoy with Orange-Scented Chocolate Chunk Scones, or a glass of wine to enjoy with these Lentil Ricotta “Meatballs,” which happens to be one of our favorite staples around Chez Us.
I admire Jennie, not only for her talents in the kitchen but also because she is an outstanding mother. While dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, she chugged along, cherished her children, and hugged them a little tighter every day. I enjoy waking up in the mornings, stumbling through my Instagram feed and seeing the hearty meals she has laid on the table for her two girls before scootering off to school. She is a strong-willed mom, who knows and appreciates that family comes first, and food happens to be binding to keep them together. Even though I am not a mother, I strive to instill these values in our little home of two. All mothers should be celebrated, not only on Mother’s Day this coming weekend, but every day.
To all the wonderful mothers out there, we wish you a brilliant day filled with love and happiness.
Lentil Ricotta Meatballs
**printed with permission from Jennifer Perillo
2 cups cooked lentils, pureed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh creamy homemade ricotta (have used store bought when in a pinch, but homemade is really the best)
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil, for frying
your favorite marinara sauce or her 20-minute marinara sauce recipe
Combine the lentils, eggs, breadcrumbs, ricotta, pecorino, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste in a deep bowl. Mix very well, using your hands or a wooden spoon.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (I always mix the day before)
When ready to cook, shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.
Add 1/2 inch of oil to a nonstick skillet. Heat over a medium flame until the oil is shimmering.
Add the shaped meatballs to the pan in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, and cook until they are browned all around, turning only once.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the cooked meatballs to simmering marinara sauce if serving immediately and simmer for an hour to soak up the sauce. (If you are pressed for time, half an hour will do)
Store the cooked meatballs in a tightly covered container for up to 3 days.