|Sometimes the meatballs just want to be alone... especially on my son's plate...what's this green stuff doing here?!|
Meatballs are meatballs, right? Well I’ve just discovered that all meatballs are not equal. Not when you borrow a fine recipe from Scrumptious South Africa and re-model the Moroccan inspired mini-meatloaves into maxi meatballs, anyway.
Last minute supper plans yesterday had friends coming to us and bringing their trademark delicious vegetarian lasagne along to cook in our oven. So I was racking my brains, to think of something that could go with it, something that our son would eat (vegetarian lasagne ticks all his boxes when it comes to reasons to dislike a dish – vegetables, sauce and all mixed up and unable to be separated into its few edible parts, the pasta itself being the only qualifying one).
Eventually I remembered Nina’s post on mince recipes, that led me on to Juno’s mini-meatloaf recipe. It sounded delicious and I loved her idea of wrapping each mince parcel with bacon for extra tastiness and tenderness. Unfortunately I forgot to buy bacon. So the mini meatloaves transformed into maxi meatballs and ended up working beautifully, baking alongside the lasagne in the oven. They also did go very well together on the plate, for those of us who would eat both. It actually turned out to be the perfect combination for a table made up of a couple of vegetarians and a dedicated vegetable-hater, as well as the omnivores in between: taking the meat out of the lasagne and serving it separately was how one of our friends put it!
The meatballs were soft and tender, with a wonderful mix of Moroccan-inspired spices adding interest to the potentially bland meat: scents of coriander and cinnamon create a warm complexity with the cumin and I will definitely be adding this one to the family repertoire.
I’m not going to re-produce the recipe here, as I followed Juno’s recipe almost exactly, except for the modelling of the mince patties and you can get all the details from her.
All I did differently was to make the mince into about 16 large balls instead of the 8 tennis ball size that she suggests, then I baked them in a roasting tin together, just about touching, but not squashed, so that they kept their shape but didn’t dry out. I also left out the peppers and used carrots instead of celery, just because I was aiming for my son to eat them and not pick all the bits out! I left out most of the optional hot spices – Tabasco and cayenne - just using a pinch of each for interest, and ended up with perfectly child-friendly mega meatballs that went down a storm with all but the vegetarians!