Insensitive Menu Planning

In the waiting room.  Daddy has a “checkup”.

My husband had an outpatient medical procedure on Thursday afternoon.  Don’t worry, he’s fine.  Let’s just say that we’re totally content with our two beautiful children and plan to remain that way.  Forever.

I knew that he was going to need some rest, a bag of frozen peas and a great dinner after his “procedure”.  Always a sucker for a consistent theme, I decided to make…

wait for it…

meatballs!

We’re no strangers to meatballs, as seen here and here, but I’ve been struggling to find a meatball dinner that doesn’t need pasta or polenta to be complete.  If you’re going to the trouble to make a great meatball with quality ingredients, it should be able to stand on its own without a bed of starch beneath it, dulling the flavor you spent some effort to produce.  The couscous in this recipe acts as the binding agent for the meatballs and the starch for the meal, eliminating the need for the typical starch underneath and allowing you to focus on the meatball.  Voila!  I also made a Greek salad and served crusty bread to dip into the tomato sauce.

Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs, adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s Sweet and Spicy Greek Meatballs (Keftedes me Saltsa Domata)

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or ground beef) (I used ground leg of lamb)

1 cup cooked and cooled couscous

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 egg, at room temperature, beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

In a large bowl, mix together the lamb, couscous, garlic, egg, parsley, olive oil, mint, oregano, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Form the mixture into 15 to 16 (2-inch diameter) meatballs.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer, turning occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.  Spoon some of the tomato sauce into bowls and top with meatballs.  Garnish with fresh mint to serve.

For dessert, we had whoopie pies paired with two small, delicate, maybe even a little tender scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  What can I say?  I love a theme.

– Catherine

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