When it comes to food and feeding a family on the daily basis it is nice to have a few recipes on hand that are true multitaskers. Something that can be just popped on the stove or into the oven quickly for a nice dinner. Or a quick appetizer that is good for friends on a Friday night. Contrary to a popular belief, I don’t feed my family restaurant style food on a daily basis, I too sometimes run into the need to use pre-made frozen meals. The difference is I make them myself. When making dumplings, meatballs, pasta, sauce… just make a little more, or a lot more and the next time you have to work late make use of your own freezer for a delicious dinner. (I sound like Rachel Ray and her 30 minute meals).
Spicy Lamb meatballs
2 lbs of ground lamb (do try to ground the meat yourself, I cringe to think what goes into the already ground up stuff you get from the market – I guess I read too much about where our food comes from)
¾ cup of bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 medium shallot grated or finely chopped
1 tbs of Harissa
1 tsp of toasted cumin
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of chili powder
2 tbs of Worstershire sauce
2 tbs chopped parsley
½ tbs of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (take it easy on the salt, the cheese and worstershire sauce are salty as is)
Mix all the ingredients together until they just make a uniform mixture. Do not overwork or your meatballs will be thought. Roll meatballs gently, the size of golf balls or slightly smaller. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 350F until nicely browned. As these bake, depending on the fattiness of your lamb, these may render a lot of fat. If that is the case, dry the meatballs on paper towels before proceeding with the next steps.
Once your meatballs are browned about 30 min, you can let them cool and freeze them in a zip-top bag until that wonderful night when you do not feel like making dinner from scratch. It really helps to have these things tucked away in your freezer along with home-made sauce.
Spicy roasted pepper sauce
3 large roasted peppers skins and seeds removed.
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tbs of tomato paste
1 tbs of harissa
1 tbs of olive oil
1 medium onion diced
4 garlic cloves diced
1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
¼ tsp of roasted cumin
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tbs of sugar
1 cup of dry white wine
1 cup of chicken stock
Salt and Black pepper
Run the roasted peppers through a food processor or a food mill until fully crushed. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet or a heavy bottom pot with a large surface area. Add the onion and sauté on low heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the white wine, harissa and tomato paste, stir and let cook out on medium heat for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, peppers, chicken stock and all the seasoning. Stir and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning for salt of needed. If the sauce is too spicy add a squirt of lemon or if it is too acidic, a bit more sugar. Simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs, cover and simmer for 30 minutes on very low heat, stirring occasionally. If using frozen meatballs, there is no need to defrost them, just simmer them in the sauce a bit longer, around 45 minutes.
The sauce can be made separately and frozen in well covered containers for up to 30 days.
I like to serve these meatballs and sauce simply over brown rice with crispy kale chips on top for crunch and freshness.
Now, let’s talk about crispy Kale. Kale is good for you, Kale is your friend and if you happened to frequently experience cravings for salty, crunchy crap from a vending machine, these leaves can become your best friends… no frying required. If you want an ultimately healthy substitution to a potato chip, you are 30 minutes away from snack heaven.
Crispy Kale chips.
As much Kale as you like – you can bake up 10 batches at once, depending on the size of your oven
Enough olive oil to coat your palms (usually no more than ½ tbs is needed)
Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim the stems off the kale, leaving just the leaves. Rub olive oil between your palms than rub each kale leaf between your palms, evenly coating both size with a minimum of oil. Arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes or until Kale becomes glossy, crumbly and crispy. No turning needed. Let it cool and crumble upon whatever dishes you like for salty, crunchy texture. Or eat just like that as a snack. Beats potato chips any time.
There are infinite possibilities on how to serve these meatballs, they can become anything from a star of an main dish to a nice appetizer byte. Here is how I served them at Thanksgiving… over a spicy beet salad (Follow the link to a recipe), garnished with cool yogurt sauce ( just Greek yogurt, dill, chives and salt) to tame the spice. All nestled in a byte size lettuce leaf (Small romaine would work here, better than Boston lettuce I used).
The next time you are reaching for a bag of Swedish meatballs, consider the alternatives