Showing posts with label meatballs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meatballs. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Spinach and cheese “meatballs”

Bolinhos de espinafre e queijo

Who follows me on Instagram has seen some of my lunch dishes: it is usually simple food, quick to put together, so I can make it and eat in on my lunch break. Rice and beans I keep ready at the fridge, so it is just a matter of roasting some vegetables, making a salad or an omelet, or getting meatballs from the fridge straight to the oven. All very quick.

But when I have a little more time, or when I get organized enough on the previous night, I like to make new recipes, food that takes a little bit longer in the kitchen, like these delicious spinach “meatballs”: I had some spinach in the fridge and wanted to use it in something different – on a busy day I would simple stir-fry it with olive oil, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg for a tasty side dish, but since I had a bit of extra time I went to my good old sources for recipes online (Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver, Gourmet Traveller, both Australian and UK Delicious magazines) and it was on the Guardian that I found something interesting. I adapted the recipe slightly and got truly delicious spinach cakes – I am calling them meatballs because I decided to roll them into balls.

I am sure these meatballs would be delicious baked, but since my oven was already full with something else I just grilled them quickly in a nonstick frying pan with a little bit of olive oil. If you decide to bake them, line the baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil, because the amount of cheese in these cakes will make them stick on the sheet.

Too bad the recipe does not yield much – the meatballs were gone in no time at all. :D

Spinach and cheese “meatballs”
adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's savory spinach cakes recipe

"Meatballs":
4 cups (260g) fresh spinach, tough stalks removed, leaves washed, packed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup coarsely grated yellow mozzarella – cheddar should make a fine substitute, or even Monterey Jack
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon cream cheese
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten – the egg I used was a small one, 50g; I buy organic eggs and sizes vary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For frying the balls:
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, cook the spinach in two batches, stirring until wilted. Transfer to a colander. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze very well with your hands, then chop. Set aside to cool completely.
Using the same frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – don’t overcook or the garlic will turn bitter. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

Transfer spinach, onion and garlic mixture, cheeses, cream cheese, breadcrumbs and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Stir in the egg and season with salt and pepper. With damp hands, roll 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture into balls, pressing slightly to compact the mixture. Transfer to a place and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Before frying the meatballs, roll them into the breadcrumbs. Heat the olive oil in the same frying pan used before over medium-high heat and fry the balls, turning two or three times to evenly brown them – be careful because they are very soft. Serve immediately.

Makes 10-11 cakes

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Beef and ricotta meatballs

Almôndegas de carne e ricota / Beef and ricotta meatballs

Meatballs are a big hit at my house and you will find some in my freezer whenever. They constantly become a quick weeknight dinner paired with salad – I do that quite often.

My go-to meatball recipe is this, but after seeing the wonderful Nigel Slater making burgers with the addition of ricotta I thought I would give it a go with meatballs: they tasted delicious and were incredibly light in texture.

Unfortunately I am no longer able to eat ricotta, but this is such a great recipe I had to share it with you.

Beef and ricotta meatballs
adapted from here, with Nigel’s idea

½ large onion
2 large garlic cloves
300g beef mince
175g ricotta – I used homemade
1 large egg
3 tablespoons finely grated pecorino or parmesan
1 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Place onion and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped*. Transfer to a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients, mixing well with your hands. With wet hands, shape the mixture into balls using 1 ½ tablespoons of mixture per meatball.

You can either cook the meatballs at the stovetop or bake them in a preheated 200°C/400°F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

* I’ve tried this recipe with chopped, processed and grated onions and to me the best way of using them is processed – chopped with a knife the onion pieces are too large (which makes rolling the meatballs more difficult) and grated the onion becomes too wet

Makes about 22

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Beef kofta in sweet-sour tomato sauce

Beef kofta with sweet and sour tomato sauce / Kofta de carne bovina com molho de tomate agridoce

I am a complete sucker for food magazines and because of that end up with tons of them and thousands of recipes to choose from. At this time of the year my favorite ones – Donna Hay and Gourmet Traveller - are all about grilling, since they are Australian magazines celebrating the same season as we are here in Brazil (summer). The grilled foods look amazing, but I live in a small apartment and don’t own a barbecue – therefore, the inspiration most comes from the European mags or older issues of my favorite ones.

These beef koftas are delicious and I made them in a matter of moments – some rice and a salad completed a very simple yet tasty meal. I found the recipe on Olive magazine, which is always a good source for quick recipes, and replaced the lamb for beef and the cinnamon for baharat, since it always goes wonderful with beef (like in the sfihas I make sometimes and that my husband eats like a madman).

Beef kofta in sweet-sour tomato sauce
slightly adapted from the always great Olive magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons baharat
1 teaspoon ground cumin
500g beef mince
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar – I used sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat half of the olive oil and cook the onion until it’s soft and translucent. Add the baharat and cumin and stir for a minute. Remove from the heat, cool and then add half of the mixture to the mince along with the 2 tablespoons pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Divide it into 24 and roll each lump into a neat ball between your hands. Fry them in the remaining olive oil until they brown all over (you might need to do this in batches). Lift them into a sieve while you make the sauce.

Remove any excess oil from the frying pan, then put the rest of the onion mix back in the pan and cook until warm. Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bubble the lot gently for 5 minutes, then add the kofta. Cook for 15 minutes, over medium heat, turning over the kofta half way. Make sure they are cooked through. Scatter on the remaining pine nuts and the parsley and serve.

Serves 4

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meatballs alla Norma

Meatballs alla Norma / Almôndegas alla Norma

As someone who loves anything related to food, I love reading about it, making and eating it (obviously), but I also find it amazing to talk about it with different people and learn what they like, what they don’t like and how their tastes change with time.

I have those conversations with my husband all the time, and he tells me about the food he ate as a kid, things he loved and things he couldn’t stand, how it took him so long to appreciate all sorts of vegetables, and that his mother would be really glad to see him finally eating like an adult (she passed away in 2011).

Every time Joao and I talk about those things I feel more inspired to cook, and when he asked me to make meatballs – one of his all time favorite dishes – I remembered Jamie Oliver’s meatballs alla Norma and thought that a bit of eggplant in the meatballs wouldn’t hurt.

I love eggplant. :)

The eggplant sauce tasted divine with the meatballs; Jamie served his over polenta, but since it was too hot here I went with spaghetti instead and some bread to mop up the sauce – a simple yet delicious meal that I get to replicate anytime I want with the meatballs I stashed in my freezer.

Meatballs alla Norma
slightly adapted from the always delicious Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less

Meatballs – recipe here

Sauce:
1 large eggplant
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 400g (14oz) can diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Dice the eggplant into 1.5 cm cubes, then season well with salt and leave for 15 min in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of foil and brush it with olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the prepared sheet and bake until firm and cooked through (about 30 minutes) – bake as many as you want, the recipe yields about 25 meatballs. You can freeze uncooked meatballs for up to 2 months and bake them directly from frozen.

While the meatballs are in the oven, make the sauce: take handfuls of the eggplant and squeeze out the excess salty liquid, then put into a saucepan on a medium heat with a lug of oil to cook for 10 min, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the sweet chili sauce and balsamic, add the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons water. Season with salt and black pepper, then simmer for 10-15 min, or until thickened. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beef, lemon and pecorino meatballs and favorite TV characters

Beef, lemon and pecorino meatballs / Almôndegas com limão siciliano e pecorino

As I finished watching season 5 of Sons of Anarchy, I started thinking about favorite characters in TV series – I have some favorites myself, characters I supported and cheered for (or still do) even if they’re not the nicest people around (hello, Walter White). :)

When it comes to SoA, for instance, it is agonizing to have a favorite character – let’s just say that Kurt Sutter and George R. R. Martin could easily be best friends – but even so Chibs is the one I like the most, I just adore him and his accent. <3 Samantha Jones and Peggy Olson are my favorites in SATC and Mad Men, respectively, and although everyone in Seinfeld was really funny George Costanza was and will always be my #1. :)


Do you have favorite TV characters? I would love to hear about it.


I have favorites when it comes to food, too: meatballs have a very special place in my heart, and the hubby loves them too. I am always interested in trying new meatball recipes, especially ones with a twist like Ottolenghi’s leek meatballs I made the other day. The ones I bring you today are delish, very easy to make, and here the cheese acts both as seasoning and binding agent – no need to add breadcrumbs and eggs. I served them with tomato sauce and Andrew Carmellini’s polenta because it was a very cold day, but I am sure the meatballs would be great as a snack with a bit of Tabasco and a glass of very cold beer on a summer day.

A bit of a warning, though: all that cheese melting in the oven will smell so good you’ll want to dive in as soon as the meatballs are ready – trust me on that. :)

Beef, lemon and pecorino meatballs
slightly adapted from the delicious Olive magazine

400g beef mince
½ red onion, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
handful fresh oregano leaves, chopped
30g finely grated pecorino
salt and freshly ground black pepper – I used ½ teaspoon of salt, be careful because pecorino is already salty

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of foil. Brush the foil with vegetable oil.
Place the beef, onion, garlic, zest, oregano, pecorino, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine (I prefer to use my hand to do that). Shape mixture into balls (the job becomes easier if you lightly wet the palms of your hands). Place the meatballs onto the prepared sheet and bake until golden and cooked through (about 20 minutes).
Serve with tomato sauce or whatever strikes your fancy. :)

Makes about 18

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Leek meatballs and what "Breaking Bad" and "Sons of Anarchy" have in common

Leek meatballs / Almôndegas de carne e alho-poró

One of the many reasons why I love Breaking Bad is that the show never compromised – I never felt like something was being done to please the audience, or that something had been suddenly changed to give us a happy ending. I love it when TV shows don’t take the coward route just so the viewers can feel less shocked – for instance, I might not like GoT but I truly admire the courage of the people behind it.

Now that I have finished watching season 1 of the excellent Sons of Anarchy I feel that this is not the coward kind of show, which makes me love it even more - apparently the people behind it don’t compromise either so season 2, here I go, and as soon as possible.

These meatballs, with a huge amount of leeks combined with the beef, were a wonderful surprise: incredibly light in texture, easy to make, delicious and great to have in the freezer (they can go to the oven still frozen, just bake them for a little bit longer), they might not be your typical meatballs but are certainly worth trying.

I might not accept silly, coward TV shows but I’m more than willing to accept meatballs made with more leeks than beef, especially when they taste this good. :)

Leek meatballs
slightly adapted from the über beautiful Jerusalem: A Cookbook

450g leeks, trimmed
300g beef mince
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 egg
90g breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of parsley leaves, chopped

Cut the leeks into slices, rinse well, and steam them for about 20 minutes until completely soft. Drain and leave to cool. Squeeze any residual water using a colander.
Pulse the leeks in food processor to chop, but don’t turn them into a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add the beef, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix to combine, then try to shape the mixture into balls – the job becomes easier if you lightly wet the palms of your hands. If the mixture is too wet, add 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and mix again. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush the foil lightly with oil. Place the meatballs onto the foil and bake until golden and cooked through (about 30 minutes). Serve immediately.

The uncooked meatballs can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Makes about 25


Friday, March 14, 2014

Eggplant “meatballs” and Stephen Holder

Eggplant "meatballs" / Almôndegas de berinjela

Some supporting characters have the power of stealing main characters’ thunder in movies and TV shows – for instance, Amy Poehler is super funny but to me Tom Haverford is the highlight of Parks and Recreation.

I finished the first season of the excellent The Killing and was amazed by Mireille Enos’ strong performance, but Joel Kinnaman was the real surprise here: his Stephen Holder is a delight to watch, adding a much needed – and intelligently made – comic relief to a very dark show. He has the best lines and deliver them perfectly, making me laugh like crazy in several scenes – one of my favorites is the one in which Linden tells him that he can’t eat pork rinds if he’s a vegetarian and he tells her that “pork rinds are junk food, don’t count” (here at 1:10 if you want to enjoy it). :D

These “meatballs”, made out of eggplant with no meat whatsoever, are delicious – I served them with pasta and it was a hit. They’re very soft and it took me a while to shape the mixture into balls so I thought of adding an egg to it, but since my husband kept snacking on the mixture while I tried to rolled it I skipped the egg and added more breadcrumbs instead – it worked like a charm and I just had to be careful while frying them to keep them from falling apart.

I believe these eggplant “meatballs” will be a hit at your house as they were in mine - either if you’re a true vegetarian or a Holder-kind-of-vegetarian. :D

Eggplant “meatballs”
slightly adapted from A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes

1 eggplant
1 onion, finely diced
1 far garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
3 large black olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
finely grated zest and juice of 1 small
about ¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
small handful parsley leaves, chopped
small handful basil leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
tomato sauce, to serve

Cut the stems off the ends of the eggplants and halve lengthways. Dice the flesh into chunks and pop into a medium nonstick saucepan or frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and oliver, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes to brown and soften.

Add the lemon zest and juice, mix to combine, then remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Cool slightly. Add the breadcrumbs, parmesan and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls with your hands. Wipe the nonstick frying pan clean with a kitchen towel and pour in remaining 1 tablespoon. Heat over medium heat, then carefully fry the eggplant balls in batches until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with the tomato sauce.

Makes about 12

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chilli con carne meatballs, a.k.a. the day my husband ate cilantro

Chilli con carne meatballs / Almôndegas chilli con carne

I thought it would take another trip to China to turn my husband into a foodie, but apparently we didn’t have to go that far: New York City did the trick. :)

After tasting several things for the first time at the great places we had lunch/dinner in the city that never sleeps he was convinced that yes, there is so much delicious food out there just waiting to be discovered, and yes, my suggestions are worth trying. :D

Back from vacation I suggested these meatballs for lunch and then patiently waited for the request to swap the cilantro for parsley - much to my surprise, it never came and the hubby brought home the bunch of herb himself. :D

This recipe comes from "Jamie's 15-Minute Meals", and since I don’t time myself around the kitchen I have no idea how long it took me to cook this meal (I served the meatballs with rice), but I can guarantee it was fast.

Chilli con carne meatballs
slightly adapted from the delicious Jamie's 15-Minute Meals (I bought mine here)

400g lean beef mince
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few drops of Tabasco
1 heaping teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon table salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
3 jarred red peppers
½ small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove (for the sauce)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
700g passata
pinch of sugar
handful fresh cilantro + some extra leaves to serve
1 x 400g can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used 200g pinto beans I had cooked previously)
4 tablespoons fat-free natural yogurt
1 lime

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, two cloves of garlic, Tabasco, garam masala, salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Divide the mixture into 4, then with wet hands quickly shape each piece into 4 balls. Heat a frying pan over high heat, add a splash of olive oil, then place the meatballs in the pan, tossing regularly until they’re nicely browned.
Using a blender, blitz the peppers, onion, the other garlic clove, paprika, passata, sugar, cilantro and a good pinch of salt and pepper until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan, place it over medium-high heat and stir occasionally. When the meatballs are nicely golden, add them to the sauce, cover partially and cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes or until sauce is thicker and meatballs are cooked through. Add the beans to the empty frying pan and cook them for 2-3 minutes over high heat. Remove from the heat, then stir into the sauce (I preferred to serve them separately). Check the seasoning.
Serve sprinkled with cilantro leaves, the yogurt and a spritz of lime juice.

There was a lot of tomato sauce left when we finished eating the meatballs (I served them with rice); I kept it in the fridge and served over some pasta on the following day (the sauce tasted even better after one night in the fridge).

Serves 4

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meatballs – Jamie’s and mine

Meatballs - Jamie's and mine / Almôndegas - do Jamie e minhas

I’ve been making these meatballs for so long I cannot remember when the first time was – they’re one of my husband’s favorites (and he doesn’t have that many favorite dishes). They’re delicious with both pasta and rice, but lately Joao’s been eating them in sandwich form – very Joey Tribbiani. :)

Adapted from one of Jamie’s recipes, found on this blog.

Meatballs – Jamie’s and mine
adapted from The Naked Chef

500g ground beef
2 teaspoons dried oregano
a couple of splashes of Tabasco
1 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I use a lot)
½ teaspoon garlic infused olive oil (or use regular olive oil + 1 garlic clove, minced)
1 large egg
1/3 cup homemade breadcrumbs + about 1/3 cup extra to roll the meatballs
½ large onion, processed*
generous handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of foil. Brush the foil with vegetable oil.
Place the beef, dried oregano, Tabasco, salt, black pepper, olive oil (and garlic, if using), egg, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs , onion and parsley in a large bowl and mix to combine (I prefer to use my hand to do that). Try to shape some of the mixture into a ball – if too wet, add 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and mix again. Grab 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture and shape into compact balls (the job becomes easier if you lightly wet the palms of your hands). Roll the meatballs in the extra breadcrumbs. Place the meatballs onto the prepared sheet and bake until firm and cooked through (about 40 minutes).
Serve with tomato sauce.

* I’ve tried this recipe with chopped, processed and grated onions and to me the best way of using them is processed – chopped with a knife the onion pieces are too large (which makes rolling the meatballs more difficult) and grated the onion becomes too wet

Makes about 25

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