Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Burgers again? I said to myself last weekend while surveying the meat counter. Harrumph. And then I had a not particularly revolutionary but ultimately delicious thought: meatballs. In general, my feelings about meatballs run pretty close to my feelings about meatloaf: Where’s the seasoning? So when I got home from the grocery store, I started looking for a recipe with punch. With chutzpah. With, you know, meatballs. What I found was this awesome entry from David Tanis’s “City Kitchen” column in The New York Times. Though I often double recipes' recommended spice amounts, I went with Tanis on this one. The result: beautiful, fragrant meatballs—with moxie.

Makes 3 dozen; takes about 1 hour 30 minutes

» 2 Tbsp olive oil
» 1 medium onion, diced
» 3 garlic cloves, minced
» 2 Tbsp tomato paste
» 1-inch cinnamon stick
» Generous pinch saffron, crumbled
» Salt and pepper
» 3 cups chicken or veggie broth

» 1 1/2 cups firm bread, cubed
» 1 cup milk
» 1 pound (grass fed!) ground beef or lamb
» 1 egg, beaten
» 1 tsp salt
» 1/4 tsp pepper
» 4 garlic cloves, minced
» 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
» 1 tsp ground ginger
» 1 tsp turmeric
» 2 tsp paprika
» 1/4 tsp cayenne
» 1/4 tsp ground cloves
» 1/4 tsp ground coriander
» 1/2 tsp ground cumin
» 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
» 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
» 3 Tbsp finely chopped scallions
» all-purpose flour, for dusting
» veggie oil

For the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon, and saffron, and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently 5 minutes. At this point, I let it cool slightly then transferred the sauce to a bowl so I could use the same pan for the meatballs.

For the meatballs: Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Let bread soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry. Put squeezed-out bread, ground meat, and egg in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and all spices. Mix well using your hands. Add 2 Tbsp each parsley, cilantro, and scallion, and knead for a minute.

Using your hands, roll the mixture into small balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Fill a skillet with oil to a quarter-inch depth over medium-high and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side (about 6 minutes total). Drain and blot on paper towel. Pour off oil, return tomato sauce and meatballs to pan and simmer, covered, over medium for about 20 minutes.

I served the meatballs with Israeli couscous and a few spoonfuls of the sauce and garnished with the remaining parsley, cilantro, and scallions.

With many farm shares winding down for the season, we’ve put the CSA Cookoff to bed for the year. Look for it again in late spring, sprouting along with the arugula and asparagus. In the meantime, meet HOME Cooked, a winter-friendly recipe file that revels in the earthier corners of the fridge and the pantry. Think root veggies and baked goods. We’ll post a recipe each week, featuring dishes from you. Don’t be shy. Share the goods. Especially the baked goods.

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