I really love minced meat. It’s so versatile, and so quick to cook. I always like to have mince meat of some animal or another in the freezer so I can make a big batch of chilli, bolognese, meatballs or burgers to keep in the fridge for emergency meals.
The main issue with Paleo meatballs is they can be quite solid because meatballs traditionally have some form of breadcrumbs thrown in to lighten it up. I haven’t really experimented enough to counter this, so if you have any ideas, I’d love to know.
These meatballs are slightly more elaborate than my typical chuck-in-whatever-I-have-in-the-fridge approach. I went for a Middle Eastern flavour (inspired by Ottolenghi as usual!) to go with my cauliflower hummus (recipe coming up!). Pistachios are so beautiful, although they can be very subtle if ground up too small, so it’s best to chop them with a knife rather than in a food processor, to avoid making them into a powder.
Tabouleh is traditionally made with bulgar wheat but I usually substitute with roasted cauliflower, although here I’ve suggested using broccoli as an alternative – it’s another tree-like vegetable after all, and if you serve it with the hummus you don’t want a cauliflower overload! Both work really well, and if you try and grate most of the stalk as well, it ends up looking a bit like shredded chicken – my partner thought it actually was chicken! The end product is a beautiful green salad studded with pomegranate jewels – simply stunning.
Ingredients. Serves 4.
- 450g lamb mince
- 2 shallots
- 20g parsley, finely chopped
- 50g pistachios, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cauliflower or broccoli
- Salt, pepper and olive oil
- 80g parsley
- 30g mint, leaves picked
- 2 spring onions
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. ground coriander
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ pomegranate, seeds removed
- 30g pine nuts, toasted
Method. Preparation: 1 hour. Cooking: 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200C/180C fan.
- Start with the koftas: Place all the ingredients except for the lamb in a large bowl and mix well. Add the lamb mince and scrunch through until all ingredients are well distributed. Wet your hands and shape small handfuls of the mixture into sausages the length of your middle finger. You can either shape them as they are or shape them around sprigs of rosemary. Make sure the meat is well packed as they can fall apart easily in the cooking. Place in the fridge to chill for about an hour or so while you prepare the tabouleh. You can also leave it overnight.
- For the tabouleh: Grate the cauliflower or broccoli in a food processor or by hand. Place in a large bowl and add a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and toss to mix. Place in a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the edges start browning; remove and leave to cool. While it’s roasting, finely chop the parsley (including the stalks), mint and spring onions. Add the herbs and spices to a large bowl along with the cooled cauliflower or broccoli, pomegranate seeds, olive oil and lemon juice and toss well. Taste and season with more lemon juice, salt and pepper if needed. Scatter the tabouleh with toasted pine nuts.
- When you’re ready to cook the lamb, heat up a griddle pan until hot, remove the lamb from the fridge and brush the pan with olive oil. Place the lamb the griddle pan until browned and golden then turn over; repeat on all sides. It will take around 10 minutes to cook through.
- Serve with the tabouleh heaped on the side and a serving of cauliflower hummus.
Note: The koftas take well to reheating – either use a griddle pan grill or warm oven.