A hearty meal that’s both healthy and flavourful
I often find myself craving particular dishes or ingredients because characters in a book I am reading are enjoying them. Recently, a novel set in England fostered in me a keen desire for lamb meatballs, and thus, this dish was born. It’s a super flavourful meal that is surprisingly quick to prepare; the lamb meatballs provide a beautiful pop of flavor and texture and the tender vegetables blend perfectly with the brothy orzo (pasta). You can shape and cook the meatballs ahead of time and refrigerate until just before serving time; the vegetables can similarly be prepared ahead of time.
- 1 cup (250 mL) soft breadcrumbs (about 1.5 slices of fresh bread, crusts removed)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white wine
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground coriander seed
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) finely minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt and pepper
- 1 1/4 pounds (600 g) lean ground lamb
Vegetables and orzo
- 2 cups (500 mL) unooked orzo pasta
- 4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
- 1 cup (250 mL) water
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- 1 cup chopped Spanish onion
- 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon each (1.25 mL) fresh ground pepper and kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) dried red pepper flakes
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Crumbled feta or grated mozzarella (for garnish)
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place a wire cooling rack on top. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.
- To make the meatballs, place the breadcrumbs in the bottom of a large bowl. Add white wine and massage it in with clean hands until the breadcrumbs are thoroughly dampened.
- Add the ground coriander seed, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and ground lamb to the bowl and combine well with your hands. Shape into small meatballs (1 inch / 2.5 cm) and place on wire cooling rack set over lined baking sheet.
- Bake meatballs in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside (transfer to a bowl and refrigerate if not assembling dish within the hour).
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add the tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, basil, red pepper flakes salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, while orzo cooks.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Do not drain the cooked pasta as you want the broth in the finished dish.
- Transfer pasta and cooking liquid to a large bowl. Add the tomato and meatball mixture and toss gently to combine.
- Spoon into individual bowls; top with cheese and sprinkle with parsley.
Serves 4 – 6.