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Spring lamb meatballs with broad beans and courgettes
Spring lamb meatballs with broad beans and courgettes
Middle Eastern
1 hour
dinner for 4 (or a greedy 3!)

You wouldn’t think of broad beans as controversial, but we’ve certainly found ourselves in many heated debates about them: should the thin membrane be removed before cooking or should it stay on? To peel or not to peel?

For many cooks, peeling broad beans is just something you do, like peeling a banana – you don’t eat the skin.

Don’t peel, we say. If they are nice and fresh, they’ll be delicious.

If they are old and mealy, they won’t be nice, skin on or off. So many people give this lovely bean a miss because they think it’s too much work, which is an incredible shame as broad beans are a celebration of spring, a treat that should be enjoyed throughout the season.

Don’t peel, we say. The whole joy of broad beans – that bittersweet taste, that crunch – it’s all in the skin. Lose that and you are basically left with something that tastes like a garden pea. If you want that, just get garden peas.

Don’t peel. It is so much work, so time consuming. We bought a bag of broad beans once in a farmers’ market in south Kensington. We shelled and peeled them on the bus back home to Battersea, where we lived at the time. We got off the bus 45 minutes later with a fistful of beans, a bag full of waste and aching fingers. There are much better ways to spend your precious kitchen time.

If you’re still not convinced, you will be once you have tried this recipe. It’s a recipe for meatballs, yes, but the broad beans are the stars here: cooked in olive oil, gentle spices and plenty of dill, with leeks and courgettes that melt into the sauce, while the beans, sheltered in their skins, keep their shape and flavour through the cooking, so when you take a spoonful, they roll off the tongue and pleasantly pop in your mouth. You will never peel a broad bean again.

Honey & Co. At Home: Middle-Eastern recipes from our kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, published by Pavilion Books. Image credit to Patricia Niven.

Recipe courtesy of

For the meatballs

  • 1 leek, sliced and washed
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g/9oz/1 cup minced lamb
  • 250g/9oz/1 cup minced beef
  • 1 tbsp each of ground fenugreek and ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄2 small bunch of dill, chopped (about 10g/1⁄3oz)
  • 1⁄2 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and chopped (about 10g/1⁄3oz)
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder

For the cooking liquid

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek, roughly sliced and washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1⁄2 tsp table salt
  • 200g/7oz/11⁄2 cups shelled broad beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1⁄2 small bunch of dill, chopped
  • 1⁄2 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and chopped
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  1. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7. In a large bowl mix all the meatball ingredients together until well combined, then shape into 12–14 balls, each about the size of a ping-pong ball. Place on a roasting tray, bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.
  2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil for the cooking liquid in a large pot and sweat the leeks, garlic and courgettes together for about 5–6 minutes, then sprinkle with the salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the broad beans, bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Tip in the seared meatballs with any juices that may have formed in the roasting tray. Add 500ml/18fl oz/generous 2 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to minimum, add the chopped herbs and cover the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes, then serve.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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