This recipe originally comes from the SavorySpice shop (savoryspice.com), and the meatballs were intended to be used in a soup. The soup is quite good, but I have used the meatballs as just meatballs as well, as shown in the above image. In this case they are served over fettuccine tossed with olive oil and oregano (and seasoned with black pepper. The seasoning is based on the company’s lemon garlic blend, but you can substitute any similar spice blend. I listed the ingredients after the recipe, but I have no idea what the proportions of each spice are. In the U.S. you can order this online. Elsewhere you’ll probably have to wing it. But keep in mind that the fennel and leeks used in the meatballs are really the dominant flavors so you can probably get away with any number of variations. So let’s get started with the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts diced and rinsed (about 2 cups, meatballs use 1 cup)
- 1 fennel bulb, diced (about 2 cups, meatballs will use 1 cup). Reserve fronds for garnish if desired
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (store bought are fine)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Hidden Cove Lemon Garlic Blend (from savoryspice.com, see note below)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet (this will fill a half sheet pan – if your’s is smaller you may need two) with parchment paper. Place 1 cup each of the fennel and leek in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add lamb, egg, bread crumbs, lemon garlic seasoning, and salt. Mix by hand until everything is thoroughly combined. Make sure mixture is very cold for the next step.
Form mixture into 1 Tablespoon sized balls and place on prepared baking sheet(s). You should end up with roughly 40 meatballs. I had 47 last time I made this – if they’re close to the right size they’ll still cook fine. Bake for 25 minutes, turning the meatballs over halfway through to help them cook more evenly.
- Serve over pasta, or use in the soup recipe that follows. A tomato based sauce is not recommended – use a good olive oil and optionally add some seasoning such as oregano or marjoram (but don’t overpower things with it).
Notes on Seasoning: The company lists these spices as beibng in this blend: lemon zest, garlic, ginger, onion, allspice, parsely, white pepper, sugar, fenugreek, turmeric, mace, black pepper, thyme, coriander, cumin, cayenne, arrowroot, cinammon, anise, cloves, and cardamom. This is a very Caribbean set of spices. I can say that the cayenne and black/white pepper is not strong, the blend is very mild. If you are able to get this blend I highly recommend it. Otherwise make do from the list.
Using these in an Orzo Soup
To make a very nice soup with the meatballs, use the other half of the leek and fennel, and the following:
- 1 Tablespoon Hidden Cove spice blend (see discussion in note above)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, sliced into thin rounds (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 8 cups chicken broth (try to use a reduced sodium one)
- 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 3 ounces spinach leaves (about 2 cups)
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
This needs a good sized dutch oven or soup pot. Heat oil over medium heat, and add the fennel and leek, along with carrots, pepper, and salt. Cook until softened, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth and seasoning mix, and bring to a boil.. Add meatballs and orzo and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. add spinach just before serving – the idea is to wilt it, not turn it to mush. Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon slices.