Sunday 3 March 2013

Beef Meatballs with Broad Beans, Lemon and Herbs

I spent some time in London last week... It was a flying visit to catch up on what was going on down there in shops, restaurants and galleries. Have a look at some new pop-ups, architecture, interiors, handbags... I was quickly calculating how many meals I could fit into the short time I was there. I loved Upstairs at the Ten Bells, my favourite of the weekend I think, elements of secret dining above a packed Spitalfields boozer, amazing food, lovely people, beautiful cosy dining room... tick.

Other highlights were Ducksoup in Soho, a seat in the window and a glass of red wine saw me in holiday mode pretty quickly. They had a turntable by the door, daily hand written menus and lovely booze list on wipe down white ceramic tiles - octopus with paprika and capers was great, a duck egg you had to peel with mayonnaise and sumac to dip was cute and tasty... Venison with potatoes, olives and aioli at the Canton Arms in Vauxhall hit the spot for lunch, and a piece of morcilla with soft red peppers and a little fried quail's egg at Morito would do me right just about now...

Before stuffing myself silly in London I had been immersing myself in Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem, much like every other food blog I read it seems. But these meatballs were just a bit too lovely to not tell you about for the sake of being different... Delicious fresh, lemony and herby, a nice contrast to my usual lamb meatballs, cooked in a lovely fragrant broth with broad beans, garlic and spring onions. Definitely my best Jerusalem experiment so far...

These amounts will serve 4 people. Start with the meat ball mix; 300g of minced beef and 150g of minced lamb, I got mine from Charlotte's Butchers, a cute little butchers newly opened in Gosforth. Add the mince to a bowl with a finely diced medium onion, 120g of breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons each of chopped parsley, mint, dill and coriander. Add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of chopped capers, 1 beaten egg and 1 tablespoon on Baharat spice mix. You can buy this or you can make it...

I made myself a little jar by bashing together a mix of spices in a pestle and mortar: 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 small cinnamon stick, ½ teaspoon of cloves, ½ teaspoon of ground allspice, 2 teaspoons of cumins seeds, 1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds and ½ a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Grind it all to a powder...

Roll the mix into meatballs the size of a ping pong ball and then fry them in batches in hot olive oil, until they are brown all over. I did mine in 2 batches for about 5 minutes each. Then remove them all from the pan and wipe it clean and add 2 tablespoons of fresh olive oil. Then sauté 4 sprigs of thyme, 6 cloves of garlic sliced and 8 spring onions cut into 2cm pieces for about 3 minutes. The recipe calls for 350g of blanched broad beans, half shelled and half unshelled, I couldn’t get any so added a tin of broad beans at this point. Also add 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice, 80ml of chicken stock, ¼ teaspoon of salt and lots of black pepper and cook for ten minutes on a low heat.

Return the meatballs to the pan and add another 420ml of chicken stock and simmer for 25 minutes. I found the meatballs soaked up a lot of the sauce so don’t worry if it seems a lot. You can also cook them to this point and reheat them later if needs be. Just before you serve them add a handful of chopped mint, dill, parsley and coriander, a tablespoon of lemon juice and a handful of fresh blanched peeled broad beans if you have them.

I served the meatballs with some steamed rice, they are delicious and sticky with a fresh tasty broth full of lemon and herbs. It is a lot of ingredients as Ottolenghi recipes often are, but is definitely worth the time and effort, I'll be making them again asap.


  1. I can't tell you how much I love this recipe! I was first enchanted by the picture from a Guardian Newspaper free recipe card - enough to make me rush out and buy the book as soon as it was published. What a gem (the recipe and the book!)

  2. I know I love the book! So much I want to make and everything I have made has been delicious!

    Anna x


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x