Lamb Meatballs & Whole Wheat Spaghetti with capers, sun dried tomatoes & artichokes

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Sometimes, we eat all the veggies and sometimes, it’s all the pasta. Our friends Emily and John served us the most scrumptious, spice-filled lamb meatballs while we were visiting them in Florida and I’d been craving them ever since. The meatball recipe was inspired by one from the The New York Times, which I couldn’t locate for the longest time so I recreated it the good ole-fashioned way, with my senses. With the addition of the capers and sun dried tomatoes, this is a tangy, spicy delicious dish that feels oh so Mediterranean. I will say that it’s an interesting combination – cinnamon, cloves, etc. in a tomato-based pasta? All I can say is to just try it. It somehow works. Let me know if you do and enjoy!

Lamb Meatballs & Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Capers, Artichoke Hearts and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Serves: 4-6 including a toddler and 11 month old

Ingredients:

  • For the lamb meatballs
    • 1lb ground lamb
    • 2 clove garlic, crushed
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground mustard, nutmeg, clove, paprika
    • Generous pinch red pepper flakes and shake of cinnamon
    • Heaping spoonful of corn meal
  • 1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 can artichokes quarters, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 jar capers in vinegar, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 jar sun dried tomatoes, about 1 cup chopped (reserve the oil in the jar to toss the pasta in to keep it from sticking)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce of preference (any kind will work whether it’s plain in a can or gussied up in a jar. The sauce is more to simmer the meatballs in and merry everything together, so you don’t need much)
  • Handful of fresh parsley and basil, chopped
  • Parmesan shavings to finish

Method:

  • Make the meatballs ahead of time if you can. Combine all the ingredients for the lamb meatballs into a mixing bowl and with your hands, mix until totally combined. Use a mini ice scream scoop or soup spoon to form the meat balls. For the adults, do tablespoon-sized (think golf ball) and for toddlers, size them closer to a teaspoon (a bit bigger than a marble). Kids love things their own sized food items, rather than cutting everything up for them. Once you’ve formed the meatballs, put them in a covered dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Cook the pasta, drizzle with the oil from the sun dried tomatoes and set aside.
  • Once ready to cook the meatballs, heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a medium to large skillet on medium high-heat. In batches, brown the meat balls on all sides until browned and they can be moved with out resistance from the pan, about 2- 3 minutes per side. Once nicely browned on all sides, set aside on a plate near by.
  • Drain off most of the fat from the meatballs and in the same pan add the sun dried tomatoes, capers, artichokes, tomato sauce and herbs. Bring to a simmer, stir and add the meatballs. Cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes until lamb meatballs are cooked through. A little pink is better in my opinion, but cook to your liking!
  • Top with Parmesan cheese and serve over pasta. Enjoy!

Cooking/eating notes:

  • For an older baby, reserve some of the heart portion of the artichokes, a bit of meatball, pasta and just a touch of sauce. Mash with a fork and they’ll gobble it up.
  • Variations: Shrimp, feta cheese, or cannellini beans are great non-meat options or you could nix the protein all together. Additionally, this would be perfectly tasty without tomato sauce. Lots of other options like olives or roasted red peppers would be great too!

 

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