Migraines and tomato sauce…only one of these is good

In my life I’ve had only a handful of migraines. They usually start in the middle of the night and a couple of times I’ve had an “aura”; for me, this is a sort of visual fizziness. Not quite fireworks, but more a display of sparkles…a little like the thing you get when all the blood has rushed out of your head and you’re about to faint. It sounds pretty, right? In reality, it’s stressful because I don’t know how long it will last and I can’t make it stop. Eyes open, it’s there. Closed eyes, it’s there. I can’t turn on the light because that makes me want to vomit. I become EXTREMELY sensitive to light and become a bit “Hollywood swooning diva”.
After the migraine itself has ended, I feel like my head has been consumed by a fog which is expanding in my skull, threatening to burst it open. I’m overwhelmed with exhaustion and nausea and have to lie very still in a darkened room for as long as possible.
Last Sunday I had a migraine in the middle of the night. I woke on Monday feeling like death so swapped my day working from home and did what I could from the sofa in my dark sitting room. Tuesday morning came and I knew I wasn’t going to make it in again…another day working from the sofa in a dark room. By Wednesday morning I was bored so I dragged myself up and onto a bus as I couldn’t manage the 12 minute walk to the station – by this point, I was feeling very pathetic and getting quite worried – the after effects have never lasted so long before. Thursday, I still felt utterly appalling but made it out for a client dinner where I had a couple of glasses of wine. Error. I didn’t sleep a wink. Friday I just wanted to die. The nausea was so bad I couldn’t face lunch (I KNOW! Can you believe such a thing?!)  All week I was looking ahead to the quiet weekend that I had planned, a chance to rest up and get better…except that went belly up because of these little blighters:
Check it – it’s a maggoty thing. It’s actually the larvae of the pantry/larder moth and is plainly revolting. So instead of my relaxing, quiet weekend, I had to do an uber-cleanup whilst desperately needing my bed.  This was a highly stressful exercise involving much ladder-climbing, many binbags, lots of soapy water, chemical  pest spray and plenty of squealing and shaking from me every time I came across the maggots…which was a lot.
Roll on this Monday morning and, after a slightly strange night which was riddled with insomnia, I got up feeling exhausted but otherwise ok. At about 2:30pm another full on migraine struck. I literally crawled under my desk to get away from the lights, moaned, groaned, donned sunglasses (useless) and somehow managed to get home where I fell asleep for hours. And now it’s the early hours of Tuesday morning, I’m crying from fatigue and nausea and just feeling so under the weather for what is becoming a prolonged period of time. I’m feeling VERY sorry for myself.
Anyway. I’m moaning and it’s really dull. And this is *sort of* a food blog. So, back to food! In a brief moment of not feeling bad over the weekend, I made some incredible polpette from Russell Norman’s Polpo cookbook and a fresh tomato sauce. I shan’t recount the polpette recipe for obvious reasons (I don’t think he would appreciate it and you should buy the book – it’s very lovely) but they were the pork and fennel ones. So pork mince, fennel seeds and the other usual suspects in a meatball. Delicious. They made me smile inside.
All mine though was the sauce. As you may know, I vehemently do NOT like tomatoes…or so I thought. I now think that I just I don’t like tinned tomatoes*. They’re strong and acidic and don’t actually taste of tomatoes. So, to the sauce!
A pack of cherry vine tomatoes, cut into quarters
One small red onion, finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
A pinch of dried chilli – not too much, you just want a teeny bit of background heat
Black pepper
Olive oil
Over a lowish heat, heat up a decent slug of olive oil with the onion and garlic. I always heat the oil up with the garlic in it because the garlic is less likely to burn and you don’t want to burn it because burnt garlic is pretty ming. Add the chilli flakes, a good bit of salt (around 1/4 tsp minimum) and lots of black pepper. Stir for a few minutes until everything is soft. I highly recommend that you don’t take this opportunity to take out the maggoty binbags. Chances are you’ll burn everything and have to start again…which isn’t irritating AT ALL.
Once the onions are soft, add the tomatoes to the pan, another slug of oil, heat until bubbling and then pop the lid on and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick.
After 15 minutes, it should be all soft and the tomatoes should have broken down. Let it cool a little and then blitz it with a stick bender until smooth. Check for seasoning – it should be delicious and sweet and pretty darn perfect.
Russell Norman suggests that you part-cook your meatballs in the oven and then poach them in the sauce. Given that these were the best meatballs I’ve ever made, I now recommend this too. Mine had 15 mins at 200 in the oven, turning every 5 minutes and then 10 minutes of poaching in the sauce with the lid on.
I drained my pasta, reserving a bit of the cooking water and then tossed the pasta, pasta water, meatballs and sauce together. The result was utterly delicious and strangely light because the meatballs were made with pork rather than the traditional beef, and the sauce was so much lighter and sweeter for being made with gorgeous fresh cherry tomatoes.
This is the sauce on the pasta:
but you can’t really see it, so here it is sans spag:
Undoubtedly, this tomato sauce is far more expensive to produce than one made with tinned tomatoes…but I will eat and enjoy this one, which makes it totally worthwhile in my books.
I shall be making a batch of these for the freezer so that on under-the-weather days, I can just pull a portion out and have a pretty healthy meal. *Happy piggy face.*
*actually still hate sun dried tomatoes, sun blush tomatoes, those freaky massive beef ones which are sort of fluffy and make me gag, not keen on tomato purée…you get the picture.

9 thoughts on “Migraines and tomato sauce…only one of these is good

  1. Bleurgh, bleurgh to maggoty things. Retch.And poor you being so knocked out at the mo xxxxV glad to hear that there is room for A tomato sauce in your life – hurrah! Liking the sound of the fennel-scented meatballs. Never tried adding fennel to any of my many meatball variations, although do add it to lots of other minced pork Italiano things. Meatballs rock as a freezer meal solution on knackered nights.

  2. Your week sounds pants you poor thing. Hope you're feeling much better.What is with those maggots? Not heard of them. Have they all been dispatched now or do you have to keep checking? Do they get IN the food?Meatballs look delish btw

  3. Chris – Jordi tells me that these maggoty things are uber common in Australia, she hadn't realised that we had them over here. You initially see moths flapping around and then you may open things eg packs of seed and the seeds may be a bit stuck together with a sort of silk web – that's what the maggots weave. They come in in an infected bag of something – I think mine came in in a bag of pumpkin seeds as it was at the back of the cupboard, unopened and bulging with web and maggot dudes. I squealed. And removed everything with kitchen tongs. You have to chuck out absolutely EVERYTHING and clean away the eggs (look like paler coffee grounds) and then spray with pest spray. I've spent £115 on Kilner jars to out things in. Shall display on shelves and embrace this opportunity to have an aspirational kitchen! Xx

  4. Illness = yucky 😦 Am sorry…I feel awful for people who get migraines – it seems totally unfair and they sound GRIM.Polpette, on the other hand, look delicious, so I guess it's not all bad. I might leave the fennel out for me, though, I guess.I almost never eat meatballs, except occasionally at ikea.V weird re the tomato sauce (though also good) – have you tried lots of different tinned tomatoes? Seems strange – I usually think of them as being pretty sweet and less acidic (specially better than the usual spongey English ones), but maybe that's just me. Yuo can get canned cherry tomatoes too – maybe you'd like them more?I am also not a fan of the sundried kind, but that's just because they are yucky…I am very excited about your jars. We should have a jar-celebration party.

  5. I'm losing the plot today with the head. Am shouting at the building management people to remove the horrific strip bulb above my head as apparently they can't order a dim one Just For Me. Gits.Fennel…as you know, I HATE fresh fennel, but for some reason, I really like pork and fennel seeds. These are seriously fennelly so you wouldn't like them at all. However, if you would like to peruse my Polpo book, you will find recipes for lamb and pistachio and duck ones too. YUMZ.I think it's the sauce crap that the tomatoes are in that makes them horrible. They're just way too tomatoey. I HATE THEM.Finally…my jars are here!!!

  6. Yes yes – I DO wish to peruse :-)We must do it at Jar Party…I sort of understand about the tomatoes – I still like them, but I wouldn't eat them on their own (some people do – for BREAKFAST – what's with that?).And I REALLY don't like tomato puree unless it's really well cooked/hidden.J eats it out of the tube, but he is odd.Your jars are the loveliest thing I have ever seen. I aspire to your kitchen 🙂

  7. I've done the jars! They look so pretty, don't they?! I love them. I need some more though which is mental given that I bought 36 jars!My mum likes tinned tomatoes on burnt toast…what is that about? Jamie and the tomato purée sounds vile though.

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