Nopi Lamb Meatballs

by Anne Maxfield on February 25, 2016

Locavore Meatballs With CouscousEveryone loves a good meatball and while the first dish the Accidental Locavore planned to cook from the new Ottolenghi book Nopi was the Vine Leaf Beef Pie, I haven’t been able to corral enough adventurous eaters to make it worth doing (without leftovers for weeks). These lamb meatballs looked great and I had some really good ground lamb from my Four Legs Farm share. The original recipe was for six but I halved it to feed 3:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Large pinch dried mint
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ pound Swiss chard, stems removed and greens shredded
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole milk) or labne
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to form a paste
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • Seeds from ½ pomegranate (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Locavore Nopi Meatballs and ChardPlace the first six ingredients in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the allspice, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Mix well and form into golf-ball-sized meatballs; you should have about a dozen.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan with the onion and the other garlic clove. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened but not browned. Add the chile and the Swiss chard and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chard has wilted. Stir in the other teaspoon of the allspice, chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.

Locavore Nopi Meatballs With SauceIn a large mixing bowl, add the yogurt, cornstarch paste, egg and ¼ cup of water. Whisk well to form a smooth paste. Gradually spoon in the chard mixture, stirring well after each addition until the two mixtures are combined. Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper and set aside.

Pour the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry for 4 minutes, turning so all sides get browned. Do this in batches if you need to.

Locavore Nopi Meatballs CookingWipe down the pan and pour in the yogurt sauce. Bring to a very gentle simmer on a medium-low heat. It should just barely be bubbling. Stir continuously in one direction to prevent the yogurt sauce from separating. Return the meatballs to the pan, stir to coat and cook on low heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.

Locavore Nopi Lamb MeatballsServe garnished with the pomegranate seeds and the cilantro sprinkled on top and enjoy!

My verdict: Maybe the recipes are “restaurant food” because in a restaurant you have someone to wash the dishes! Without sounding too much like The Twelve Days of Christmas, this used four measuring spoons, three frying pans, two cutting boards, and a mixing bowl washed twice. However, if you can con someone else into washing up, this was a delicious dinner! The meatballs were tender and juicy with a nice crunch from the pine nuts. The yogurt sauce was reliable, for once not only not breaking, but adding a rich creamy touch to the lamb. It might have been because I actually used labne instead of yogurt – that’s an experiment I may have to run in the future, and I was very careful to keep the heat low. When I made this, I actually made the meatballs ahead of time, refrigerated them, made the sauce later in the day and added the meatballs until they were warmed and cooked through. Even though there are a lot of steps (and dishes), nothing is terribly difficult and the results are worth it! Next time, I’ll make the full recipe of meatballs, freeze half and do the sauce as needed. That will save a pan or two.

A special shout-out and thank you to Bob & Edesio who hand carried my signed copy of Nopi back from the UK! Come up and I’ll make the Vine Leaf pie!


Chicken Shawarma

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2015

Accidental Locavore Chicken Shawarma With RiceBoth the Accidental Locavore and Frank saw this on the NY Times website and thought it looked great, so it wasn’t long before it became dinner. While you probably want to start it marinating ahead of time, the actual cooking process is pretty quick and easy. Serves 4:

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus about a tablespoon for greasing the pan
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Make a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425°. Grease a rimmed sheet pan with the olive oil. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade and place on the pan in a single layer.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice across the grain. Garnish with parsley and serve with your choice of sauces—white, hot etc. and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled Chicken ShawarmaMy verdict (and Frank’s): Great! Now that it’s warmer out, we’ll probably do this on the grill, but it worked fine in the oven. I served it with brown basmati rice (which took about as long as the chicken) and with both white sauce and harissa. For the white sauce, I used about 3/4 cup yogurt (actually labneh since I had some in the fridge), 1/3 cup mayo, juice of half a small lemon, and a garlic clove run through a garlic press. Check the taste and adjust as needed.

I made a small salad to mix up with the shawarma, of shredded lettuce, tomato and feta, so you could eat it on the side or add it to the chicken. Feel free to mix and match what you like to make this a great (and easy) meal!

Update: We did it again and grilled it this time. It was really good, but possibly a bit over-cooked. This time we served it with tabouli and asparagus grilled in a bit of the white sauce. Either way it’s a winner and how you cook it will just depend on whether you want to heat up your kitchen.






Being Lazy: Basil Dressing for Tomato Salad

by Anne Maxfield on September 19, 2013

Accidental Locavore Tomato Salad With Basil DressingIf you’re on your own for dinner, do you cook for yourself? The Accidental Locavore does to a certain extent. It gives me the opportunity to try some things out, or to eat exactly what I want, but sometimes, you just want to keep it simple. I made this dressing from a recipe from the Perfect Pantry with all intentions of making the BLT salad it was to go on. However, a bowl of tomatoes kept staring at me and the idea of cooking bacon just seemed like work (yeah, it’s just cooking bacon, but…), so a dollop or two of this dressing on some great tomatoes was the perfect accompaniment to a simple grilled lamb chop. This makes about ¾ cup:

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (any kind is fine)
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (to make 2-3 tablespoons)
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Accidental Locavore Basil DressingIn a small blender, mini-food processor or with a stick blender, combine all the ingredients, until everything is well mixed and the dressing is a pale green. If it’s too thick, add a little water to thin it out. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: As I said before, laziness prevented me from going the whole BLT salad route. The extent of my labor (after making the dressing) was to cut a couple of good heirloom tomatoes into ½” wedges and tossed them with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing. I also added about a teaspoon of Maldon salt to the tomatoes, as I thought they needed more salt (but my husband will tell you I’m a salt fanatic). I also “cheated” and used my own homemade mayo and yogurt and homegrown basil, so it doesn’t get much better than that, right? This would be a great dressing in the middle of February, when you can get decent basil but nothing else. Some of it on some nice lettuce, or even an iceberg wedge with bacon, would give you hope for summer!

{ 1 comment }

Grilled Rotisserie Lamb With Harissa and Herbs

by Anne Maxfield on August 8, 2013

Accidental Locavore Lamb Couscous and SquashThe Accidental Locavore’s Internet friend, Jeff Parker, posted this great sounding lamb recipe a few months ago. Months of bad weather and strange weekend plans kept this from happening until this past weekend, when finally, lamb met rotisserie and, boy, was it good! Don’t be afraid of butterflying anything. It’s super easy to do and sounds terribly impressive when you tell your friends, “Well, first I butterflied this _______,” doesn’t it? Butterflying is just a matter of taking a knife and essentially using it to unroll a piece of meat. I used about a 3-pound boneless leg of lamb (gives you a running start on the butterflying) and it fed 4 people with just enough left over for a big sandwich. Yum! I started with Jeff’s recipe, but since I’m incapable of following directions, made a few changes. This needs to marinate overnight, so plan ahead.

  • 3-pound boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
  • 1/3 cup harissa (use more if your harissa is mild, or your heat tolerance is high)
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small food processor or mini-chopper add the garlic, mint and cilantro. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the harissa and process until you have a chunky paste. Lay the lamb out flat on a work surface. Smear the lamb with most of the harissa paste. Roll it back up and tie it, about every two inches with butcher’s twine. Spread the rest of the harissa on the outside of the lamb. Put in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight.

Accidental Locavore Rotisserie LambAn hour before you’re ready to cook, remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Remove the lamb from the marinade and toss the bag. Run the rotisserie rod through the lamb and fasten with the end pieces (you know how your rotisserie works). Light the rotisserie part of your grill and attach the rod with the lamb and close the grill cover. Check the lamb after about 30 minutes, it should be 135° for medium-rare. Remove from the heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Remove the rotisserie gear, slice, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I knew I’d be sorry I waited so long to try this, and I was! It’s delicious. I served it with some couscous and a mélange of sautéed summer squash. The only downside was that either our lamb was too small or the grill was too hot. We cooked it for about an hour and it ended up quite well done. However, it was still juicy and tender, just not as pink as I would have liked it. I made a version of Jeff’s yogurt sauce (see below for recipe)and it was a wonderful accompaniment with the meal. If you should be so unfortunate as to not have a grill with a rotisserie (trade it in immediately!), don’t tie up the lamb and just grill it flat, about 15-20 minutes a side.

Accidental Locavore Yogurt SauceYogurt Sauce

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (or homemade)
  • 2-3 good sized cloves garlic, grated or run through a garlic press
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4” cubes

Add all the ingredients to a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.