What do you feed two hungry blokes who spent all afternoon lugging around heavy fridges? - Yep, that’s right, meatballs.
I know that pretty much every supermarket now sells ready made meatballs… for about quadruple the price of a pack of minced meat. Now seriously, why would you do that to yourself. Just buy some good quality minced meat (whatever you fancy: beef, pork, lamb or turkey) and season it the way you like.
Meatballs are dead easy to make and pretty versatile when it comes to finding suitable sides. The obvious solution would be to make meatballs and spaghetti but I decided to try something different. So I cooked up some simple, fragrant lemon and thyme rice and roast veg to accompany my beef meatballs. Make a bit more and take to work for lunch the next day.
PREPARATION 20 mins
COOKS 45 mins
For the meatballs
- 500g lean beef mince (you can use any type of mince)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- a handful of chopped parsley
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper to season
- 1 tsp plain flour
For the tomato sauce
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion, sliced
- a handful of chopped basil
- 1 small glass of red wine
- 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- salt and pepper to season
For the roast veg
- 1 courgette, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, quartered
- 1 pepper, sliced
- salt and pepper
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- olive oil
For the rice (the secret is to measure your rice by volume and not weight!)
- 280ml white rice
- 560ml chicken stock
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.
- In a large bowl, mix together all your meatball ingredients. I use my hands, because it allows for a better mix. Sprinkle some flour on a large plate or baking tray. Wet your hands with some warm water and form 24 meatballs, by rolling the minced meat mixture between your hands. Set aside. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Fry your onions in some olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced to half. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Place your vegetables on a baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter the sprigs of thyme on top. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
- Heat some olive oil in a separate pan. Fry your meatballs for approximately 3 minutes on each side, until brown. Add the basil and thyme to the tomato sauce and give it a good stir before placing your meatballs on top of the sauce. Cover with a lid and cook for approximately 20 minutes on a low - medium heat (giving it a stir every now and then).
- Add your rice to a saucepan and cover with just boiled chicken stock. Cover with a lid and simmer at a medium heat for 15 minutes, giving it a gentle stir every now and then to avoid sticking. Don’t be tempted to add more water, as this will make your rice go soggy (yep, I made that mistake and had to start all over again :( ) - When done, stir in the lemon juice and thyme leaves. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 10 minutes. The kitchen towel will absorb all the steam and give you lovely fluffy rice.
And that’s it - serve your meatballs and tomato sauce with the lemony rice and sweet roast veg and a nice glass of strong red wine.
I am by no means a health freak, nor am I one of those girls who wastes her time constantly checking the calorie content of every packet I pick up. However, and because I believe in a balanced and healthy diet, and because yesterday’s puff pizza was as sinful as can get, I decided to get some veggies into me.
I’ve never cooked pearl barley before and thought, why not give it a go. It was definitely worth it. The stew ended up being like a creamy risotto - without all the butter and cheese.
The label will most probably tell you to rinse the barley before using it in order to get rid of any excess starch. I decided against it, which helped my stew thicken beautifully.
This dish will take a little while to cook. And that is: to cook, not to prepare! It is one of those meals that require zero of your attention, apart from the occasional stir. So go off, pour yourself a glass of vino and watch an episode of CSI and tadaaa… dinner’s ready. Enjoy!
PREPARATION 10 mins
COOKS 60 mins
- 200g pearl barley
- 450-500g chicken thigh fillets, diced (you can also use chicken breast),
at room temperature
- 2 baby leeks, sliced (or one big leek)
- 150g frozen peas
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large glass of white wine
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
- Parsley to garnish (optional)
- Fry your garlic, carrots and leeks in a little olive oil until soft then add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add the pearl barley and stir until it’s coated with the olive oil and the juices from the chicken. Pour in the wine and leave to reduce to half. Add the thyme and bay leaf and top up with the stock.
- Leave to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure your mixture doesn’t dry out. If it does, add a little water.
- Add the peas and Worcester sauce, mix thoroughly and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of parsley if you want.
This dish is comfort food as comforting as it gets, super healthy and just incredibly good.
I woke up the other morning and was craving vitamins BIG TIME… I have no idea how I came up with this weird mixture. Why the hell would you put spinach into your smoothie? - But trust me it worked. It was floral, sweet and fruity in a really fresh and grassy way and just what I needed. The jasmin green tea makes all the difference! Don’t be put off by it’s looks. Yes, I know it looks like pesto! It is delicious and will give you that morning vitamin kick you need.
MAKES 1 large glass
TAKES 2 minutes
- 2 small apples, peeled, cored and diced
- two handfuls of spinach
- 200ml of jasmin green tea
- 1tbs of honey
- a handful of fresh mint (optional)
- Chuck all your ingredients into a liquidiser and whiz until all your ingredients are well combined. You might have to give it a shake half way through.
- Pour over ice or enjoy on it’s own. You’ll have to stir it every now and then as the pulp tends to separate from the liquid.
You can be creative with your fruits and teas. Try fruit tea with pears or earl grey with citrus fruits. Enjoy! :)