Culture Street

Lamb has a distinct flavour and texture that goes perfectly with the Middle Eastern spices used in this recipe. You can make the spice mixture yourself, or purchase a spice mix of your choice to create your own version of this recipe.

Oven Bake
Makes 18 meatballs

Ingredients
150 g (51/2 oz) Chunky Italian red sauce (p 157)
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) minced (ground) lamb
1 egg
30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) dry breadcrumbs
35 g (11/4 oz/1/3 cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
4 thyme sprigs, finely chopped
30 g (1 oz/1 small bunch) flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
olive oil spray, for baking

Spice Mix
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon mild paprika
1 pinch cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 pinch curry powder

Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F) and add a small ovenproof saucer of water to the back of the oven to create humidity.
To make the spice mix, toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over low heat until they start to release their aromas.
Once toasted, combine with the rest of the spices in a small bowl and mix together well.
Add 2 tablespoons of the spice mix directly to the Red Sauce at this stage to ensure the spices are later distributed evenly throughout the lamb.
In a mixing bowl, combine the lamb, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, thyme, parsley and spiced Red Sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold the minced lamb with your hands until all of the ingredients are evenly combined. Using your hands, roll the mixture into 70 g (21/? oz) balls.
Spray a baking tray with olive oil and carefully place the meatballs in the tray. Bake the balls in the humid oven for 18 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Fregola, Fresh Ricotta & Pepitas

Fregola is a type of pasta that resembles couscous. When cooked, it swells into lovely morsels, which are perfect to rest your meatballs on. The ricotta smoothes out this dish, while the pepitas add some crunch.

Serves 4

Ingredients
350 g (12 oz) fregola
50 g (1¾ oz) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2½ tablespoons olive oil
200 g (7 oz) fresh ricotta cheese
10 g (¼ oz/½ bunch) tarragon leaves, roughly torn
Juice of ½ small lemon

Method

Cook the fregola in a saucepan of salted water, following the packet directions, until done. Toast the pepitas in a dry frying pan over medium heat for around 3 minutes until they start to take on some colour.Strain the pasta and combine in a mixing bowl with the olive oil, ricotta cheese, tarragon and pepitas. Add the lemon juice and season to taste, stirring everything through. You can enjoy this dish either warm or cold.

Recipe and images from Meatballs: The Ultimate Guide by Matteo Bruno, published by Murdoch Books, $35. Buy the book here.

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