Broad Beans to me mean spring. Perhaps because in Spain we would normally be harvesting our own from early spring. That beautiful vibrant green of the inner pod is the colour of new life springing from the earth. It’s enough to make you start writing poems about daffodils and wandering lonely as a cloud.
Well, it’s enough to inspire me to cook with them and the discovery (yes, at heart I’m a country girl who normally reaps what she sows) of frozen broad beans has been very exciting for me. Add to this the delightful recipes of Mr Yotam Ottolenghi and his Jerusalem cookbook (again) and I had no choice but to make his Meatballs with Broad Beans and Lemon.
Enough waxing lyrical and on with the cooking.
- 4 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
- 350g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
- 4 whole thyme sprigs
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 8 spring onions cut into 2cm segments, at an angle if you want to be fancy
- 2 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
- 500ml of chicken stock
- Salt & black pepper
For the meatballs
- 300g of minced beef
- 150g minced lamb
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 120g fresh breadcrumbs (I used a little less and it was fine)
- 2 tablespoons each of chopped flat leaf parsley, mint, dill and coriander plus about ½ tablespoon of each to finish the dish
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon of baharat spice mix (I had to make mine but it was easy)
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of chopped capers (I couldn’t find any but it was still tasty without)
- 1 egg, beaten
Makes about 20-24 meatballs about the size of ping pong balls
Place all the meatballs ingredients into a large bowl and add salt and pepper to taste and mix well with your hands. Form into small meatballs and sear them in batches with some of the olive oil until browned. Remove from pan and wipe the pan clean.
Blanch the broad beans in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes then run under cold water. Remove the skins from about half the beans and discard the skins. Keep the beans separate from each other.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan you used previously and add the thyme, garlic and spring onions and sauté over a medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the unshelled broad beans, 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice, 80ml of stock, a little salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Now add the meatballs and remaining stock, cover and continue to simmer for about 25 minutes. This can be made ahead but as they cool, the meatballs will continue to absorb the stock. If necessary, add a little water when reheating. Before serving taste for seasoning, add the remaining herbs, lemon juice and the shelled beans. Delicious with rice.
It’s a fabulous dish to make for guests as it can be prepared ahead and pulled together at the last minute. I do confess to having been outraged at having to buy all the herbs I would normally just step outside my back door to pick. But..buying or picking, it’s a stunning dish and well worth the little bit of effort you have to put in.
For another beautiful Ottolenghi meatball dish, check out my recipe for Lamb with Quince, Pomegranate and Coriander.