Cooking for a family I am always looking for ways to extend meals, add extra nutrition, and ideally have leftovers for lunchboxes the next day. In this meal, I add grated vegetables to the meatballs and bake them while preparing the rest of the meal. Roasting a tray of carrots (or squash or pumpkin) along with the meatballs makes the most of the oven heat.
Preparation time: 10 minutes // Cooking time: 20 minutes // Serves 4
The hero of this meal is millet, a little powerhouse of a grain that is often overlooked. It is gluten-free and cooks up similar in texture to couscous – although it does take longer to cook. Millet has an alkalising effect on the body and is higher in nutrition than rice. And a little goes a long way, 1 cup dry makes about 3 cups cooked!
- 2 cups organic vegetable or chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3/4 cup organic millet, washed and drained in a sieve
- ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted stock)
- 1 cinnamon quill
- chopped mint or coriander and sliced almonds to serve
Heat the stock in a small saucepan. In a larger saucepan heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and millet and cook for several minutes to dry out and toast the millet.
Add the hot stock to the pan along with salt and the cinnamon quill. Cover with a lid. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes until the stock is absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave to steam, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon quill add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, fluff with a fork and spread on a serving platter. Scatter with chopped herbs and sliced almonds to serve.
Baked Meatballs with Carrot & Beetroot
Preparation time: 20 minutes // Cooking time: 25 minutes // Serves: 4
The base recipe of these meatballs can be varied to make them your own. Use chopped herbs (parsley, coriander and mint) instead of spices, swap the beetroot for a grated zucchini in summer, and use different mince – venison, lamb or free-range pork. The breadcrumbs are optional but they do add a lighter texture to the meatballs and a little extra substance to extend the meal.
- 2 slices bread (gluten-free bread can be used)
- ¼ cup organic milk (cow or plant-based)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 small beetroot, grated
- about 500g organic beef mince
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 190°C.
First make the breadcrumbs, if the bread is fresh toast lightly first, then tear into chunks and process in a food processor until roughly crumbled. Tip into a bowl and add the milk. Cover and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and beetroot and cook for another 5 minutes until wilted. Tip into a large bowl and cool a little.
Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle add the remaining ingredients and soaked breadcrumbs. Use your hands to mix well. Form into walnut-sized balls and arrange in a single layer on a roasting tray with 1cm space between each. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Serve with millet pilaf, roasted carrots or squash, salsa verde and a bowl of unsweetened yoghurt.
Parsley Salsa Verde
In a blender combine a large handful of parsley, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons capers, juice of ½ a lemon and about 1/3 cup olive oil. Puree until smooth, adding extra olive oil if required to loosen the sauce. Pour into a small bowl and serve alongside the meatballs.
Nicola teaches cooking workshops around NZ and is the author of Homegrown Kitchen cookbook. Find more of her recipes on her website: www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz