Each changing of the seasons brings new food associations. For me the true taste of Spring is broad beans, double shelled to reveal their vibrant emerald green sweetness. Every home has its own rituals, in ours we mark the arrival of Spring with a pea and broad bean bruschetta. Coincidentally the starring ingredient of one of my very first posts a year ago Quintessentially Spring. Broad Bean, Pea and Mint Bruschetta with Pecorino
At the moment the markets are once again awash with freshly picked broad bean pods. Inspired by the pages within my ever burgeoning cookbook collection, I find I now have a new recipe to add to my repertoire of favourites. Another simply delightful recipe, courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Jerusalem’s Beef and Lamb Meatballs With Broad Beans and Lemon. Absolutely stunning. Pure genius with layer upon layer of fresh and vibrant flavours.
An added bonus? This recipe provides me with the opportunity to pair my tender broad beans with very much in season sweet, succulent Spring lamb. The meatballs use a combination of beef and lamb mince with an abundance of fresh herbs and spices. Cooked in a deliciously fresh and fragrant chicken broth. Finished with broad beans and lemon. Succulent and delectable. Redolent of the true taste of Spring.
Sami And Yotam recommend the dish be served with steamed basmati rice and orzo. For the record I served our meatballs with nothing more than warmed flatbreads to mop up their delicious juices. And another tiny variation? I couldn’t resist double podding all my broad beans. After all its school holidays (yet again) and I had willing helpers and extra pairs of hands to put to good use. This meant I added all my freshly podded broad beans to the pan right at the very end with just enough time on the stove to gently heat them through. The crunch and colour they added to the dish was amazing. We will be making this again. Often.
Beef and Lamb Meatballs With Broad Beans and Lemon.
Makes about 20 meatballs, to serve four.
4½ tbsp olive oil
350g broad beans, fresh or frozen
4 whole thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, sliced
8 spring onions, cut at an angle into 2cm segments
2½ tbsp lemon juice
500ml chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill and cilantro, to finish
For the meatballs
300g minced beef
150g minced lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill and coriander, plus ½ tbsp extra of each to finish
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
4 tsp baharat spice mix (recipe follows)
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp capers, chopped
1 egg, beaten
Put all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper and mix well with your hands. Form into balls about the same size of ping-pong balls. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in an extra-large frying pan for which you have a lid. Sear half the meatballs over a medium heat, turning them until they are brown all over – this will take about five minutes. Remove from the pan, add another half-tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the other batch of meatballs. Once browned all over, remove these from the pan, too, then wipe it clean with kitchen towel.
While the meatballs are cooking, throw the broad beans into a pot with plenty of salted boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, then remove and discard the skins from half the broad beans.
Heat the remaining oil in the meatball pan, add the thyme, garlic and spring onion, and sauté over a medium heat for three minutes. Add the unshelled broad beans, one and a half tablespoons of the lemon juice, 80ml of the stock, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. The beans should be almost covered by liquid. Pop on the lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Return the meatballs to the pan, add the remaining stock, cover again and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If it is still very runny, remove the lid and reduce a little. Once the meatballs stop cooking, they will soak up a lot of the juices, so make sure there is still plenty of sauce at this point. You can leave the meatballs now, off the heat, until you’re ready to serve.
Just before serving, reheat the meatballs and add a little water, if needed, to get enough sauce. Gently stir in the remaining herbs, lemon juice and the shelled broad beans and serve immediately.
Baharat Spice Mix
Baharat is a Middle Eastern blend of spices popular from Turkey to Egypt and Iran used in a wide variety of dishes from soups, rice, tabbouleh and stews.
It is very easy to make your own with the aid of a small food processor but for those times when time is short here is a quick tip for my Australian readers. My favourite spice emporium Herbies Spices in Rozelle make an excellent Baharat Spice Mix. Available at most good providores or online at www.herbies.com.au.
Here is Sami and Yotam’s recipe courtesy of Jerusalem
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken
½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
½ whole nutmeg, grated
Place all of the spices in a spice grinder and grind until a fine powder is achieved. Leftover spice blend can be stored in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.