I’m a bit of a latecomer to Nigel Slater. While most people cite him as among their favourite cookery writers, I was always put off by stilted and uncomfortable TV performances. Nigel is really made for the written word. But now I am now the proud owner of my first Nigel Slater book, Tender. I’ve already cooked several recipes from the book and delicious they all were too. The book is handily divided into vegetables, so its perfectly suited to my weekly vegetable box dilemna – what shall I do with all these insert generic root vegetable?
The answer this week was to cook half of my beetroots until soft, purée them and fold into a rich and moist chocolate cake. The rest were grated and mixed with lamb mince and quinoa to make meatballs. Both recipes courtesy of Mr Slater.
Let me tell you about these meatballs. I love them for so many reasons. One, adding beetroot to the lamb mince makes it go a lot further, its a lot healthier, they taste even better and you get pink meatballs! The beetroot adds a sweet earthiness that adds to (rather than takes aways from) the meatiness of the lamb.
We eat them with a garlicky, cucumber yoghurt; a tomato salsa and flatbreads. If you don’t mind the garlic, these travel well in lunchboxes too.
Lamb and beetroot meatballs adapted from Tender
75g quinoa, cooked and drained
250g beetroot, peeled and grated
1 onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
snall handful chopped parsley
400g lamb mince
Cucumber and yoghurt dressing
½ small cucumber
small handful chopped mint
1 tbsp capers
½ pot Greek yoghurt
- Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a bowl. Make sure you squish the lamb into the other ingredients to that its well combnied and season well.
- To check for seasoning, heat a little oil in a pan and fry some of the meatball mixture for a few minutes until cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- Roll walnut-sized pieces of the mixture into balls and place onto a plate. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until ready to cook.
- To cook the meatballs, heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs for about 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the beetroot stains the lamb mince red, so it’s difficult to tell when they’re cooked. I found it helpful to squash the meatballs a little when cooking to help the cook more evenly.
- To make the cucumber and yoghurt dressing, grate the cucumber, sprinkle liberally with salt, and leave it to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible and mix together with the other ingredients.
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