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Meatballs are one of the great comfort foods. Whether they’re served tossed in pasta or alongside mashed potatoes or even a simple salad, they’re familiar & nurturing. These beef pine nut raisin meatballs are loaded with fresh mint, parmigiano reggiano, garlic & as the name states – pine nuts & raisins. All tossed in a honey harissa glaze.
This time between Christmas & New Year’s Eve can feel a bit like treading water – Christmas is done & dusted & there you are, waiting to see in the New Year & all the plans you have for the crisp, shiny year ahead. The best advice my mum gave me was “start how you want to finish” so I’m using this week to get things organized so I can head into 2018 with a firm plan – for a dream without a plan is merely a wish. And I have big dreams for 2018.
What are your plans for New Year’s eve? Once I used to feel pressure to plan a jolly good night. Now, as long as I spend it with my husband enjoying each other’s company, anything other than that is merely a proverbial cherry on top. This year I told my husband he can organize the menu & the entertainment. I’ll admit, it was as though a bit of a weight was lifted by passing the baton to someone else to plan. His youngest son is staying with us this week. He arrived from Minnesota yesterday. Strange because we now live in the town he spent his first nine years. Just a few weeks away from turning 28, I’m sure he’ll organize something for his new year night or decided to spend it with us. Either way, I don’t mind what we do, I am excited for 2018 & all that it’ll bring. I can feel it, it’s going to be a good one: Lots of hard work renovating, working on this blog, my husband busy at his new job, me writing a book, planting a veggie garden, moments spent talking with family & friends & being grateful for every moment of it all.
As with all meatballs – these are simple & easy to make, requiring no culinary prowess. And they can be flavored with almost anything your imagination can dream up. These balls of sweet, nutty goodness can be served smaller for an appetizer or a little larger – as I made them, and served with mashed taters, polenta, pasta or sliced in a baguette. However you decide to serve them, they’re a winner.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 lb (453g) ground beef (minced beef)
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup raisins, chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup almond meal/flour (or fine dry breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (chili flakes)
- generous pinches of salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons harissa
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat olive oil, onion & garlic in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until onion is softened.
- Combine onion mixture, beef, parmesan, raisins, pine nuts, almond meal, mint, egg, red pepper, salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Mix until well combined - I usually like to use my hands for this part.
- Shape 2 tablespoons of mixture into balls & place on parchment paper. Spray with a little cooking spray & bake for about 25 minutes, turning once during cooking, until meatballs are browned & thoroughly cooked - don’t over cook the meatballs or you’ll dry them out. (You can also cook the meatballs on a greased wire rack placed on a baking sheet.)
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add hot meatballs, honey & harissa & gently toss, shaking the pan to coat the meatballs. Cook for 3 minutes or so until the meatballs are glazed & coated. Sprinkle with pine nuts, mint leaves & parmesan if desired. Serves 4.
- Note: These meatballs are good dipped in plain Greek yogurt or sliced & served in a baguette with hommus, cucumber & onion.