Inspired by the Persian koofteh berenji, or meatballs made with rice and split-pea, these delicious lamb meatballs are instead made the Italian way with a bit of egg and breadcrumb to bind them together, all the while still incorporating some bold Middle Eastern flavours. A delicious yet easy to prepare autumn dish, the meatballs stay moist from the crushed juices of the pomegranate seeds; they pair perfectly with sweet potato purée and green beans for added crunch. Serve with some plump olives on the side to finish out a perfect mid-week meal.
Lamb Meatballs with Pistachio and Pomegranate, Sweet Potato Purée, Green Beans
500 g ground lamb
1 small onion or echalion shallot, finely chopped
50 g parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
25 g coriander, chopped
10 g mint, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbl cumin
1 egg, beaten
15 g breadcrumbs
50 g ground pistachio, plus more for garnish
50 g pomegranate seeds, crushed with pestle and mortar, plus more for garnish
a few strands of saffron
2 large sweet potatoes
300 g green beans
salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 240 C. Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake for 45 min until knife tender. When done, peel, cut into chunks, purée using a hand blender, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to fit 12-16 meatballs.
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, grind the pomegranate seeds using a pestle and mortar and add the saffron strands. Add a splash of hot water and let stand to dissolve for a few min. Remove half of the liquid to set aside. To the rest, add the herbs, spices, pistachios, onion, breadcrumbs and grind into a paste using the pestle and mortar.
- Transfer paste to a large bowl, add in the ground lamb and egg, and lightly knead to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 min.
- Remove the meat mixture from the fridge and shape in balls using your hands. Place in the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10 min. Reduce the heat to 200 C, drizzle the rest of the pomegranate/saffron juice on top and bake for a further 5 min.
- Meanwhile, boil the green beans in salted water for 3 min and reheat the purée if it has cooled. Serve garnished with ground pistachios, extra pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley, and, a bowl of green olives.