Monday, June 10, 2013

Meatballs with Edamame and Lemon

Going to the library is one of my all time favorite things to do. I love to read, and am in the middle of some novel or memoir at all times. When arriving at the library, I have a pretty set routine; I start by heading over to the new books section to check out what new fiction has come in since my last visit, then I shift over to the non-fiction, usually looking for a memoir that might catch my eye, and last but not least I check out the new cookbooks to see if I can be inspired by something new.

A few weeks ago I picked up a new cookbook called Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, it was just too pretty to ignore. I'll admit, I'm usually more drawn to the baking cookbooks, but for whatever reason this one intrigued me and I started flipping through it. It's a beautiful cookbook filled with mouthwatering recipes from the authors' hometown of Jerusalem. I decided I had to take it home with me in order to try something I had never had before.

It took me a while to decide which fabulous looking recipe to try, but I finally settled on this meatball recipe. It sounded hearty and fresh and perfect for a spring dinner. To make a long story short, it turned out fantastically, absolutely delicious and filled with new and intriguing flavor combinations. It was the perfect choice, and made me want to make everything else in the book too.

I only got a couple of so-so pictures of the final dish, but I think you can at least get some idea of how it turned out. It may just look like a pot of meatballs, but the textures and flavors were so new to me and made my tastebuds sing. The only real changes I made were substituting edamame for the fava beans. I searched the grocery store long and hard for fava beans and couldn't find a one, fresh or frozen. I settled for a bag of frozen edamame which I unshelled before using. It seemed to be a very good substitute, even thought I have no real idea of what fava beans are like.

I also had to make my own baharat spice blend since my grocery store doesn't carry that, and the recipe in the book was too intense for my spice cupboard, using whole cinnamon sticks and cumin and coriander seeds, stuff I don't have. Googling 'baharat spice blend' gave me many options which I tweaked to work for me. The resulting mixture is below. It seemed to work well, even though I'm sure using the recipe in the book would have been even more flavorful.

Other than that I followed the recipe to a T and ended up with a restaurant quality meal if I do say so myself. The recipe does have a long list of ingredients, and it did take me quite a while to put together but I think it was totally worth it. So if you are feeling like tackling something a little different, and are willing to spend some time on it, I suggest trying out this simply delicious recipe ASAP.

Meatballs with Edamame and Lemon
Slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/3 cups (350 grams) edamame beans (or fava beans, if you can get them, fresh or frozen)
  • 4 whole thyme sprigs
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 green onions, cut at an angel into 3/4 inch segments
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons each chopped flat leaf parsley, mint, dill, and cilantro, to finish


  • 10 ounces ground beef
  • 5 ounces ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • scant 1 cup/120 grams bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped flat leaf parsley, mint, dill, and cilantro
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 teaspoons baharat spice mix (bought, or see recipe below)
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons capers, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten

Place all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Add 3/4 teaspoons salt and plenty of pepper and mix well with your hands. Form the mixture into meatballs approximately the size of a ping pong ball. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a large pan for which you have a lid (I used my Dutch oven). Sear half of the meatballs until brown all over, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, add an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil and brown the remaining meatballs. Remove from pan and wipe clean.

(If using fresh fava beans, throw them into a pot of salted, boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins from half of the fava beans and discard)

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in the same pan as before. Add the thyme, garlic and green onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/3 cup of stock, 1/4 teaspoon salt, plenty of black pepper and the edamame beans (or the unpeeled fava beans, if using). The beans should be almost covered with liquid. COver the pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Return meatballs to pan. Add the remaining stock, cover the pan and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If still quite runny, remove lid and reduce a little. The meatballs will absorb a lot of juice, so make sure there is still plenty of sauce. (At this point you can remove the meatballs from the heat and hold until ready to serve. When ready to serve, add a little water, if necessary, to get enough sauce, and continue as below.)

Just before serving, add the remaining herbs, the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (and the peeled fava beans, if using) and stir gently. Serve immediately.

Baharat Spice Blend

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Blend all spices together in a small bowl, then use in your favorites dishes. 

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