Lamb meatballs: Flavour-packed, spicy and simple

These meatballs can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, or frozen

Lamb meatballs with feta and flatbread

Lamb meatballs with feta and flatbread

 

These meatballs make a great alternative to the usual beef variety. Lamb mince has so much flavour and can take plenty of fresh herbs and bold spices. The couscous in these meatballs soaks up all of that rich fat and taste.

I sometimes add a spice mix like baharat or harissa, or even just ground cumin. You could use basil, mint or coriander in the mince mix – each would work well. Even some finely chopped rosemary would be fragrant and delicious.

Whatever herb you use, make sure you are generous, as these meatballs can take plenty of seasoning. There is no need for too much salt, though, as the feta will also bring its own saltiness. These meatballs can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, or frozen. I fry them here, but you can also sit them into a pan of simmering passata and they will cook nicely and flavour the tomato sauce as they cook. 

Of course, shop-bought pita bread would be perfect with this but it’s fun to make your own. Dough can be daunting, but this flatbread is quick and simple to make. There’s no yeast or proving time involved. The light flakiness and softness is thanks to the butter and milk in the dough.  

After many years of making hummus in different ways, I’ve discovered the key points to note are using just enough lemon juice and not adding garlic or olive oil. I also use the cooking water from the chickpeas, the aquafaba, for a smooth, silky paste. A pinch of ground cumin is good too. I finish the hummus with a drizzle of grassy-green olive oil and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds to bring out that creamy tahini nuttiness. 

LAMB MEATBALLS WITH FETA AND FLATBREAD

Serves 4

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Ingredients

For the flatbread
150g plain flour
¼tsp salt
25g butter
90ml milk

For the meatballs
380g minced lamb
100g couscous
240ml boiling water or stock
Sea salt and black pepper
100g feta cheese, crumbled
2tbs finely chopped coriander, mint or basil

For the hummus 
400g tin of cooked chickpeas, 240g drained weight (keep the liquid)
Juice of ½ lemon
2tbs tahini paste
Sea salt

Method

1. First make the flatbread dough. Place the flour in a wide bowl and create a hollow in the centre. Add a little salt. Warm the butter and milk together in a small pan until the butter has just melted. Leave to cool slightly, then pour it into the bowl of flour. Mix with a round-bladed knife until it comes together to form a dough. Knead it gently until smooth, then place it back in the bowl, cover with a plate and leave to rest.

2. Place the couscous in a bowl with the boiling water. Cover tightly with clingfilm and leave for 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the couscous is fluffy. Season with pepper and a little salt. Add the minced lamb and herbs and mix well until combined. Add the feta and mix a little more before forming into 12 small, flat patties, about 55g each. Place in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

3. To make the hummus, blitz the chickpeas, including half of the chickpea cooking water from the tin, with the lemon juice, a half teaspoon of salt and the tahini, until it is smooth. Taste for seasoning. You may need to add more of the chickpea water if it’s not smooth enough.

4. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat. Cook the meatballs until golden and cooked through, about four minutes each side. Keep them warm.

5. Heat a half tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Divide the dough into four balls, then roll out as thinly as possible. Cook each flatbread one at a time, leaving it to blister and bubble for 1-1½ minutes before turning over. It should puff up and have brown crisp spots in places. Wrap the cooked bread in a tea towel to keep them warm. The steam will soften them even more.

6. To serve, spread some hummus on each flatbread and top with the meatballs and salad leaves.

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