One of my favourite dinners to both make and eat is anything with meatballs. Over the years I’ve come up with so many different types of meatballs as well as sauces, going from plain spaghetti meatballs to a meatball wrap with arrabbiata sauce. It was the first time I made meatballs without using panko breadcrumbs, as I can’t eat wheat anymore. Instead I’ve gone for Rice Krispies. Sounds weird but the result was smashing! I had tried using wheat-free bread before and turned them into breadcrumbs, but I really liked the result of the Rice Krispies a lot more!
Other than that I kept the meatballs quite basic, just some pork mince and red onion but I did also add some tarragon to give them more flavour. The bigger surprise in this meal was the pesto however, as I’ve decided to make a courgette pesto, which I had never tried before. I also kept this pesto dairy – free (and thus vegan) so vegans can use it for their other recipes without meatballs of course.
I mixed up the pesto with some fresh lime juice, delicious herbs like parsley, basil and chives but also black olives, pine nuts, onion and garlic. The overall meal was quite easy to make, it does take some preparation work of course but as I always say: time spent cooking is time well spent!
Courgettes (also known as zucchini) have always been one of my favourite vegetables. I always use it when making spaghetti Bolognese, my cod – tomato recipe or my chicken – pasta casserole. My absolute favourite is my mum’s courgette mousse, but since I have not quite mastered the skills to make her recipe, I decided to use it as inspiration to make a courgette pesto.
Apart from its deliciousness, it also comes with some great benefits. They are very low in calories and high in water content, have no saturated fats or cholesterol and the peel is a great source of dietary fibre (although I usually remove the peel myself). They are rich in carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, a specific type of antioxidants that help get rid of free radicals, which play a role in both aging as well as some disease processes.
It’s also a great source of potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin-C and some of the B vitamin as well as iron, manganese, zinc and phosphorus.
Keep in mind though that courgettes can become bitter if you keep them in the fridge for too long so they really need to be eaten as fresh as possible, another good reason to buy only local products rather than courgettes that come from half way around the world.
As I mentioned before I used vegan parmesan in my recipe, which is quite easily bought here in Ireland as Tesco as well as Dunnes stock something called Violife Prosociano. I did this because I can’t have any dairy, but you can of course just replace it with the real deal.
Serves: 4 people
- 2 courgettes
- 2 red onions
- 1 onion
- 4 teaspoons of tarragon
- 800g pork mince
- 150-175g panko breadcrumbs / Rice Krispies*
- 3 large eggs
- half a lime
- 100g pine nuts
- 50g black olives
- 1 handful of curly parsley
- 1 handful of basil
- 10 sprigs of chives
- 1 clove of garlic
- olive oil
- parmesan / vegan parmesan
* For a gluten-free alternative, grind rice crispies, they are an ideal replacement for breadcrumbs
Let’s start with the pesto. Chop up the onion and add it to a frying pan with some olive oil as well as crushed garlic.
Slice the courgette into slices of about 1/2-1cm and then slice each slice up in smaller pieces.
Add the Courgette to the pan once the onions start to glaze and cook them for 5-7 minutes, until the courgette has become softer. Put it in a blender along with basil, parsley, chives, 3/4th of the pine nuts, lime juice, half of the black olives and start blending. If it’s too thick, add just a tablespoon of olive oil at a time until you’re pleased with the result.
The meatballs are up next and are so easy to make: Chop the red onions finely and fry them in a pan with some olive oil for a couple of minutes until soft. Add eggs, bread crumbs and tarragon to the mince and use a fork to mix it all together. Add the onion and continue kneading with your hands for a couple of minutes.
Put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 190°C until cooked. Meanwhile boil your pasta. Once the pasta is ready, stir in the pesto and the rest of the olives.
Plate it up with some fresh basil, the rest of the pine nuts and a generous amount of parmesan.