It was raining here today in sunny Florida, and was as wintery as it gets here. Dinner seemed like it should be hearty and warming, a good day for the delicious meatball recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Perfect for a winter day, or any day for that matter, because this recipe is light but hearty and utterly delicious.

The first step is to cut 4 red peppers in quarters (after washing well and removing the sticky tags, seeds and stems). Toss with 2 TBLS oil and a few good shakes salt, and put on a parchment covered baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 35-50 minutes until the peppers are soft and browned. If you wish to peel the peppers, then place them all in a large bowl, cover with Saran Wrap and let sit for 20 minutes or so. When cool enough to handle, peel the peppers, and place them into a blender along with any of the juices from roasting. Or…be lazy like me and just put the roasted (unpeeled) peppers into the blender straight, after they’ve had a chance to cool some.

To the blender with the roasted peppers and any liquid accumulated, add a 1/2 tsp salt, a large handful of clean cilantro leaves, 2 peeled cloves garlic (or more to taste), a red sweet jalapeno pepper, seeded, 2 TBLS sweet chili sauce and 2 TBLS white vinegar. Blend until smooth, check for seasonings, and put into a clean glass container with a lid, and let sit at room temperature until the meatballs are ready.

For the meatballs, I used quinoa instead of the white bread the recipe called for. Quinoa is high in protein and has plenty of vitamins and minerals without the gluten in bread. I vigorously rinsed 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter coating on each tiny seed. Bring 2 cups salted liquid (water or broth is fine) to a boil, add the drained quinoa, reduce heat to med-low, cover with a lid, and let cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and then let sit to cool until ready to mix into the meatball mix.

Cut the corn off 2 small ears of freshly picked sweet corn, and throw into a very hot non-stick pan for 2-3 minutes….the corn will start to brown quickly, toss a couple of times, and then remove from heat. Let cool

In a large bowl put 1 pound of ground turkey (I like Jenni O brand because it is gluten free), 1 well beaten egg, 4 chopped green onions, 2 TBLS finely chopped parsley, 2& 1/2 TBLS ground cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed, the roasted corn, and 1/2 cup cooked quinoa. Mix well.

Make a small patty and fry in a bit of oil to taste for seasoning…..if you need more salt, add 1/4 tsp to start and then another 1/4 tsp if you think it needs it.

Heat a large shallow frypan, add 2 TBLS olive oil (or sunflower oil, or vegetable oil), and oil your hands, then make patties first the size of a golf ball, and then slightly flatten. Cook until brown on each side and then place each batch on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree warm oven to finish, about 5 minutes.

I like to make an additional sauce which creates a nice variety with the red sauce, made of 2/3 cup whole fat greek yogurt, 4 large cloves garlic (pressed through a garlic press), 1/2 tsp salt and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix well.

To serve, heat the red pepper sauce to hot in a saucepan or microwave. Plate meatballs to taste on the place, with the red sauce and yogurt sauce on the side, and enjoy! Double the recipe if you want leftovers for the next day. The red pepper sauce is excellent with fried eggs, over pasta or spaghetti squash (with or without the meatballs), as a pizza sauce for homemade pizzas, over baked eggplant rounds with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil, the choices are many.

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Ground Turkey and Roasted Corn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients

  • Red Pepper Sauce
  • 4 red peppers, washed well and cut into quarters
  • 2 TBLS olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large handful washed and dried cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red jalapeno pepper (or sweet cherry pepper)
  • 2 TBLS sweet chili sauce (or 2 TBLS Sirracha with 1 TBLS agave)
  • 2 TBLS white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • For meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2/3 to 1 cup roasted corn
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 TBLS chopped parsley
  • 1 TBLS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut washed red peppers into quarters, toss with 2 TBLS of olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Roast for 35-50 minutes, until soft and browned. Pour roasted peppers with any roasting liquid into a bowl, cover with saran wrap and let cool. Peeling is optional.
  3. Combine roasted red peppers with the other ingredients in a blender and blend until just smooth.
  4. Cut corn kernels from 2 ears, and flash brown in a hot non-stick pan just 3 minutes or so. Set aside to cool.
  5. Measure out quinoa (or you can substitute cooked brown rice or wild rice).
  6. Beat the egg. Chop green onion. Mince parsely.
  7. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a big bowl and mix well with hands to combine. Put 2 TBLS oil into a large shallow frypan, and put golfball sized balls into the hot pan, and press to flatten. Cook until brown on each side, about 5 minutes, and then place into a 300 degree baking sheet while the 2nd batch cooks.
  8. Warm red pepper sauce. Make tangy garlickky white sauce to compliment if desired (2/3 cup whole fat greek yogurt, 4 cloves pressed garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 tsp salt.
  9. Plate meatballs and accompany with red pepper sauce and white sauce, and vegetable of your choice.
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