I don’t know what the weather looks like where you are, dear reader, but Northern Italy is living through a period of bright summer sunshine alternated with the heavy grey clouds of a quite January day. The weather gods are teasing us: moments of warmth and rays of sun make us dust off our sunglasses, while the next day we have to search again for a scarf and an umbrella. I do my best to live according to the seasons: each of them fills the farmers’ market with different colors and shapes, each of them is represented by typical recipes, each of them is connected to a way of living and of feeling. I made this recipe for a dinner with a friend close to my heart, and we ate far to much of it! The meatballs are lightened up with feta and some lemon, while the tomato sauce gets an incredible taste boost by adding the mint. Eat them wrapped in flatbreads with some salad and yogurt dressing, success guaranteed!
Ingredients (for 20 ping-pong ball sized meatballs)
To make the meatballs:
- 0,5 kg ground meat (preferably beef or lamb)
- 1 large egg
- 40 g breadcrumbs
- 60ml water
- 30g crumbled feta cheese
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 20g tomato paste
- According to taste: salt, red pepper flakes, chopped parsley and lemon zest
Combine all these ingredients (with a fork) and form the mixture into small meatballs.
Heat a large skillet and add a splash of olive oil.
Place the meatballs evenly in the pan, turn and roll over until all sides become brown.
Put them on a plate when ready and set aside.
Attention: don’t cook too much, it’s okay if they stay raw inside. We will use the pan (and the eventually pieces of meat stuck to the bottom) to make the sauce.
To make the sauce:
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Some splashes of red wine or dry vermouth
- 400g can of crushed or pureed tomatoes
- Juice of one lemon
- A handful of pitted, chopped olives
- According to taste: dried oregano, lemon zest, salt, red pepper flakes, sliced mint leaves, chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) crumbled feta, for garnish
Add onion and garlic to the pan in which you baked the meatballs. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
Add the wine or vermouth, scrape up any bits stuck to the pan and cook until almost all liquid evaporated.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper flakes, olives, mint and parsley in the quantities that you like.
Bring the sauce to a simmer and add the meatballs. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Serve with some extra olives, feta and herbs.