I love Meatballs. I feel like that is all I need to say except it is probably not enough. Meatballs are genius. You can load them up with pretty much anything, have them on a burger, in a sauce or soup. They can be inspired by so many different cuisines…..Greek meatballs, Italian meatballs, Thai meatballs, Vietnamese meatballs, Spanish Meatballs……you get the gist? They can be accompanied by mash, rice, noodles or grains of every description and they can even be vegetarian (although that would make the Vegieballs or ‘Meat’balls).
There is no end to the combinations that you can do with mince to make Meatballs and this particular dish was an absolute triumph. Good quality beef mince, subtly spiced with cumin and cinnamon, full of fresh oregano, loads of garlic and topped with molten Halloumi, these mega Meatballs sat beautifully in a rich red wine and tomato sauce. I had some pumpkin floating around and I thought sweet roasted wedges would be just the ticket with the earthy, salty meatballs and their accompanying sharp and tangy sauce. I was right.
Prep time: 20 Minutes
Cooking time: 40 Minutes
$$ Medium Budget
Serves 4 (with leftovers……maybe)
For the Meatballs:
800gms of good Beef Mince (for the juiciest meatballs you need some fat content)
3 slices of day old bread, crusts removed and cut into rough cubes
1 cup of red wine
1 brown onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 a bunch of fresh oregano (about 6 sprigs) leaves removed and woody stems discarded
1 heaped tsp of ground cumin
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp of dried oregano
1 egg, lightly whisked
Sea salt and cracked pepper
200gm of halloumi, cut into 1/2cm thick slices
For the Sauce:
Olive oil for frying
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 sprigs of oregano, leaves removed, stalks discarded and finely chopped
2 tsp of Rigani (Greek oregano but normal dried is fine)
1/2 a cup of red wine, leftover from the bread (this will make sense when you read on)
700ml bottle of passata
A pinch of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of sugar
Sea salt and pepper
For the Rest:
600gm of Pumpkin, cut into 8 wedges, skin on & seeds removed
Olive oil for drizzling
Sea salt and pepper
2 tbs of chopped fresh dill
A few oregano leaves for garnish
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
Steamed greens and crusty bread to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C
To make the meatballs, place the cubed bread in a small bowl and pour over the wine. Allow to soak for 5 minutes and then use your hand to wring as much of the wine out of the bread as you can, reserving the leftover wine for the sauce. It will feel weird and soggy but don’t worry, it will give you the most divine meatballs. Place the bread in a larger bowl with the mince.
Use a small food processor to blitz up the onion, garlic and oregano leaves until they are finely grated. Place the mixture in the bowl with the mince and bread and then add the dried oregano, cumin, cinnamon, whisked egg and season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine (they are your greatest kitchen tool) until everything is well mixed. Dampen your hands a little and then shape the meatballs into nice large meatballs, about the size of the inside of your palm. You should make about 8 in total. Place them on a lined tray and pop them in the fridge while you make the sauce.
Place the pumpkin wedges on a lined baking tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper before baking in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. You can place the pumpkin on a lower rack while grilling the Halloumi.
Heat a large oven proof fry pan or casserole on the stove top and add a little oil. Fry the garlic, oregano leaves and dried oregano for about 60 seconds until fragrant and then pour in the reserved wine from the bread soaking. Allow the wine to reduce by about half then pour in the passata, add the bay leaves and season with cinnamon, a little salt, pepper and sugar. Stir to combine and bring the sauce up to a simmer before placing the meatballs gently in the sauce. Pop a lid on and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and place in the oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes switch the oven to fan/grill at 200°C and top each meatball with a thick slice of Halloumi. Grill for 5 minutes or until the Halloumi is golden.
To serve the dish, place two wedges of pumpkin, skin side down in a shallow bowl or a plate with a lip. Remove the meatballs from the oven and carefully lift them out with an egg slide or large spoon and divide them between the bowls. Spoon the sauce over and around the meatballs and pumpkin before sprinkling over the dill, oregano leaves and pine nuts and drizzle with a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Serve with steamed greens or salad and a side of crusty bread to mop up the sauce, if desired.
Interested in other Meatball recipes? You might like these…..