Trying to decide what to cook for supper last night (a friend was coming over) I immediately reached for one of my Yotam Ottolenghi books as I'm a huge fan of his recipes. I chose a recipe from his latest book, Jerusalem: beef meatballs with broad beans, lemon and herbs.
I bought fresh broad beans and podded them. You have to skin half of them also which is very easy if you plunge them de-podded in boiling water for two minutes and then cold water and they pop very easily out of their skins. It's time-consuming but it's worth it as the flavour of fresh broad beans is so much more intense than frozen ones.
The recipe includes Baharat which is a Middle Eastern blend of spices popular from Turkey to Egypt and Iran used in a wide variety of dishes from soups, rice, tabbouleh and stews. I made my own using the Ottolenghi recipe in the same book (see recipe below).
For those of you who don't have the recipe book, Jerusalem (though I really recommend you buy it as you won't regret it), here are the recipes for the meatballs, the Baharat and also for the Basmati rice and orzo accompaniment.
Makes about 20 meatballs, to serve four
- 4½ tbsp olive oil
- 350g broad beans, fresh or frozen
- 4 whole thyme sprigs
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 8 spring onions, cut at an angle into 2cm segments
- 2½ tbsp lemon juice
- 500ml chicken stock
- Salt and black pepper
- For the meatballs
- 300g minced beef
- 150g minced lamb
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 120g breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill and coriander, plus ½ tbsp extra of each to finish
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp baharat spice mix (see below for recipe)
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp capers, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
Put all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper, mix with your hands and form into balls about the size of ping-pong balls. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in an extra-large frying pan for which you have a lid. Sear half the meatballs over a medium heat, turning them until they are brown all over – this will take about five minutes. Remove from the pan, add another half-tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the other batch of meatballs. Once browned all over, remove these from the pan, too, then wipe it clean with kitchen towel.
While the meatballs are cooking, throw the broad beans into a pot with plenty of salted boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, then remove and discard the skins from half the broad beans.
Heat the remaining oil in the meatball pan, add the thyme, garlic and spring onion, and sauté over a medium heat for three minutes. Add the unshelled broad beans, one and a half tablespoons of the lemon juice, 80ml of the stock, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. The beans should be almost covered by liquid. Pop on the lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Return the meatballs to the pan, add the remaining stock, cover again and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If it is still very runny, remove the lid and reduce a little. Once the meatballs stop cooking, they will soak up a lot of the juices, so make sure there is still plenty of sauce at this point. You can leave the meatballs now, off the heat, until you're ready to serve.
Just before serving, reheat the meatballs and add a little water, if needed, to get enough sauce. Gently stir in the remaining herbs, lemon juice and the shelled broad beans and serve immediately.
Recipe for Baharat
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 small cinnamon stick, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp cardamonn pods
- 1/2 a whole nutmeg, grated
Place all the spices in a spice grinder or pestle & mortar and grind until a fine powder is formed. Store in a airtight container, where it will keep for 8 weeks.
Basmati rice and Orzo
Another recipe in the same book. This is the most delicious accompaniment to any dish.
- 250g basmati rice
- 1tbsp melted ghee or unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. sunflower oil
- 85g orzo (rice-like shaped pasta)
- 600ml chicken stock
- 1 tsp sale
Wash the rice well, then place in a large bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. Allow to soak for 30 min then drain.
Heat the ghee or butter and oil on a medium-high heat in a medium heavy-based saucepan for which you have a lid. Add the orzo and sauté for 3-4 min, until the grains turn dark golden. Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 3 min. Add the drained rice and salt, bring to gentle boil, stir once or twice, cove the pan and simmer on very low heat for 15 min. Don't be tempted to uncover the pan; you need to allow the rice to steam properly.
Off the heat, remove the lid and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Place the lid on top of the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up the rice with a fork before serving.
See separate post for the dessert I made for this supper for two (Baked nectarines with very vanilla meringues) - divine!