Spiced lamb meatballs with orzo, feta and pine nuts

The meatball! The universal, incredibly versatile crowd pleaser. Made with a homemade tomato sauce, they are perfect with pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, great hunks of bread or our favourite polenta. When creating this recipe, we thought how amazing it was that there are so many different styles of meatballs from country to country, all so unique to that place, and how they all seem to be a kitchen staple- the kind of recipe that people have tucked up their sleeves nostalgically from their mumma’s mumma. It is actually very charming and touching, to see how every country has their own style of cooking them, from baking, frying, steaming or braising them- we guess it’s the kind of wholesome dish that rights a lot of wrongs. That makes you smile. And these wrongs have been cured like this for thousands of years. The Chinese recipe for Four Joy Meatballs are derived from the Shandong cuisine, from 1000bc, a mixture of pork, ginger, onion, egg and water chestnut, stewed in a brown sauce. Many meatball style dishes featured in the ancient roman cookbook Apicius, a whole chapter on mincing meat. They are also prominent in a lot of ancient Arabic cookbooks, where they would be glazed in saffron and egg. There is much happiness to be had in all these different styles of meatballs, the feeling you get when you’re biting into your mega meatball sandwich outside an old deli on the streets of nolitta nyc, a sense of fulfilment of this classic dish, to sitting, huddled around a table eating a nourishing Jewish chicken soup with matzal balls, to then enjoying Vietnamese pork meatballs, with a spicy crunchy salad and rice noodles, feeling fresh and alive.. or maybe just the pure comfort one gets from the Lady and the Tramp style slurping up spaghetti with meatballs, fresh basil and grated parmesan. We love the Greek way of serving them, koftas, spiced minced lamb and served with tzatziki and pitas. So this is where this dish came about from, wanting to make a near east style pasta, which trust us works very well. The spiced lamb balls, with the stewed, harissa tomato sauce and delicious crumbled feta that cuts through it, whilst adding a creamy element.. all complimented by a very fine glass of wine


    2 Onions, diced

    3 garlic, sliced

    small bunch coriander stalks, finely chopped

    4 bay leaves

    2 tsp cumin seeds

    2 tsp coriander seeds (both seeds toasted and then ground)

    1 tbsp harissa

    1 tbsp tomato paste

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    1 tsp dried oregano

    4 bay leaves

    1 tsp smoked paprika

    10 large toms (aprox_

    200ml white wine

    200ml chicken stock



    450g lean lamb mince

    2 garlic minced

    5 spring onion, finely diced

    2 green chillies, finely diced

    1 egg yolk

    1 inch ginger, finely grated

    2 tsp ground coriander

    small bunch of coriander (leaves and stalks), finely chopped

    2 lemons, zested


    250g orzo, cooked to instructions


    200g feta, crumbled

    1 tbsp Toasted pinenuts 


sauté your onions, with the garlic, chopped coriander stalks, bay leaves and ground cumin and coriander over a medium heat, with plenty of olive oil. Whilst this is slowly cooking, blanch your tomatoes in very hot water and leave for 5 minutes. Take out and plunge into cold water and remove the skins, dice the flesh and set to one side.

When the onion mixture starts to go translucent, and begins to caramelise- add the remaining ingredients, season well. If the tomatoes are out of season add a tsp of sugar. Cook down for 45 min-1 hour.

Whilst this is cooking- making your meat ball. In a large mixing bowl add the minced lamb. With clean hands add the remaining ingredients and mix well with your hands, season. Make bite sized balls, we like making them a more oval shape. And start putting onto a plate.

Get a frying pan good and hot (before smoking), add a little olive oil, add your balls one by one. Make sure they get crisped all over. A few minutes on each side. Then take out of the pan and add to kitchen paper.

One the sauce has cooked down, you still want the sauce to be loose- so add more stock or water if needs be- add the balls to the sauce. Mix in the orzo.

Serve up with crumbled feta, toasted pine nuts and chopped coriander. We recommend very good quality olive oil drizzled over.