Light, tender beef & ricotta meatballs topped with a punchy green salsa verde and served on tender roast vegetables. Jump to Recipe
Contrary to the impression my instagram might give, I’m not constantly indulging in rich brownies, multi-layer cakes, flaky fruit pies and freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies (okay, I admit the latter happened yesterday). I wish. Though it is my favourite part of what I do, at the moment I’m lucky if I manage to bake once every couple of weeks. It’s a balance thing. Balancing hospital hours, exam study and time in the kitchen was always going to be a juggle, and it currently tips in favour of my desk. Waaaah.
A small part of my brain would also say it’s balance in terms of health, but my sweet tooth overpowers that logic 99% of the time. Cookies are food for the soul, and don’t ever forget it.
Anyway, in the midst of all these hours clutching pen & paper (actually, mainly staring at laptop screen), the only mandatory kitchen time is constructing dinner. I don’t and will never resort to tuna on toast and two minute noodles, even on long days. I do have a lengthy and rapidly expanding list of recipes to try (points for speed and useful leftovers), or I get creative with the random bits and pieces filling the fridge at the end of the week. Random herb pesto stirred through pasta, zucchini, frozen peas, that bit of yesterday’s roast pumpkin and a poached egg, anyone? Most of the time these adventures don’t make it to instagram – yellow lit kitchen evenings surrounded by the awful 70’s tiling in our sharehouse isn’t really the aesthetic I’m going for, ha.
The point is that social media is only ever going to be a careful curated snippet of our lives, not the day to day grind. Intellectually I know that, but it’s still something I need to continually remind myself of whenever I’m bored studying and get envious of what seems like everyone else’s fun life – their travel, or baking, or workshops. The findings recently that Instagram is detrimental to mental health doesn’t surprise me in the least. And I’m not saying that I don’t like instagram – I love it for the community and real-life friends I’ve made, the inspiration, the travel tips and hidden spots. It’s just about not getting envious (*trying not to), or worrying about superficial likes and followers. And it goes for my own instagram as well – unless you think I should start posting photos of my daily coffee, pages of notes and reheated leftovers?
These beef & ricotta meatballs with salsa verde and roast vegetables are much more typical of my regular cooking. The meatballs are light, moist and fluffy thanks to ricotta and eggs, and are baked in the oven for ease and minimal clean up. Salsa verde packs a punch of flavour – it’s basically a pesto with additional capers, anchovies, spinach and parsley, and you can tweak it to suit your taste. Instead of serving them over pasta, I roast a big tray of whatever vegetables are cheap and seasonal – in this case, butternut squash, carrots, beetroot, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. In summer, you could try more of a ratatouille style sauce with tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. Enjoy!
Light, moist beef & ricotta meatballs topped with a punchy green salsa verde and served on tender roast vegetables. Very adaptable depending on the season and what you have available, and easy to vary the herbs and nuts in the salsa verde as well. Serves 4.
- A mix of whatever vegetables are in season and that you have on hand - I used butternut squash , carrots, beetroot, zucchini, shallots, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. In summer, you could try more of a ratatouille style sauce with tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. Switch it up!
- a few tablespoons Olive oil
- a few sprigs fresh rosemary and thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon liquid honey (for carrots and beetroot)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic (for carrots and beetroot)
- 2 packed cups baby spinach
- 1 packed cup basil
- 1 packed cup parsley
- 1/3 cup pinenuts or almonds
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 clove of garlic
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2-3 anchovies
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- ± cold water to thin out to a creamy , saucey consistency
- 500 g beef
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 200 g stale white bread, crusts removed
- 1/4 cup milk
- 200 g ricotta
- 2 eggs , lightly beaten
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a baking tray or two with baking paper.
Cut your vegetables up into chunks that should cook at a similar rate. Try to divide them based on cooking time so that if you have to pull some out early you can do that easily - for example, I put my beetroot, carrots, cauliflower and squash together, then on another tray had brussel sprouts and zucchini as they cook much faster.
Toss with a decent glug of olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme, and salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer on your baking tray(s). If using carrots and beetroot, drizzle a tablespoon or so over liquid honey and balsamic vinegar over them.
Roast for 30 min - 50 min depending on the vegetables - until tender and cooked to your liking.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blitz until fully combined. If needed, add a splash of water to achieve a creamy, saucey consistency.
Taste and adjust for seasoning. If you find it too strong, add a bit more parmesan and pinenuts.
In a bowl, combine the beef, onion and thyme with your hand or a wooden spoon
Separately, grate or tear the white bread to form crumbs and stir in the milk to soak (there won’t seem like there is much milk, but this is ok).
Add the bread to the mince mixture along with the ricotta and eggs and mix to just combine.
Using your hands, form the mixture into balls. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
To cook the meatballs, place on an oiled baking dish and cook at 220°C until browned and cooked through (about 20-25 minutes)
To serve, top warm roast vegetables with meatballs and spoon over the salsa verde. Top with grated parmesan (I forgot in the photos!) and serve with crusty warm bread