Spring lamb meatballs recipe

I often feel like I’m galloping through life at full speed, and pulling on the reins as hard as I can, to slow down, to really feel my life, to see it and enjoy it in a palpable way. But time has that sand-going-through-your-fingers quality, and for some reason, that sensation seems exacerbated when you have children. How can Pablo be almost 2 already?

So I’m searching. I’m searching for the secret to living life in the slow lane. 

My jasmine brought this to mind. We are blessed with a large wall of jasmine, and its scent pervades our backyard for a couple of months a year. I mentioned it a couple of times recently… I can see it through my window from my desk, where I spend a lot of time. I look at it, like an anchor. I watched it dormant this winter. I smiled when I noticed the pink buds multiplying a few weeks ago. Then the first couple of white flowers came out last week. And today, it’s in full bloom. I just wish it would stop there, stay there.

At night, I stick my nose out my window just to smell it a few more seconds. I just want to be with it.

I know the art of slow living has to do with being in the moment, but ironically, the times we are in the moment, are the ones that go by the fastest. And yet that are the most worthwhile. So you see my conundrum.

Or is it about being content? When we are content, life slows down a bit. When we remember it’s not going to last and start wanting more, it accelerates again. Life has sometimes felt jerky that way.

So between deadlines and to-do lists, I struggle to find ways to take my time. To reclaim it. It’s hard. This blog has been a great opportunity to do that: in order to write the posts I want to write, I have to take my time, slow down. To cook the recipes, to photograph them, to write my thoughts here.

And I suppose that, as always, it’s the little things that help the most. Looking for slower moments every day. Opportunities for slowness. Moments of awareness, of enjoyment, or even of sadness or worry. Just being with it. Moments when we do not think of what comes next, but focus on the here and now. Like dancing with Pablo. Gardening (or trying to…). Cooking. And meals.

Meals are such moments for us. That’s why I cherish them so much. Far from wanting to get dinner over with, we consciously try to slow it down, trying to be mindful while we eat (I remind Pablo – and myself – to eat slowly several times a meal. It’s not about what we’re eating next, but about what we’re eating now.)

And these things have helped me pull on the reins of time a bit. But it does fly…

I think of my jasmine again. In January, I trusted the rain was feeding its roots to make it grow and bloom when it would be ready (with a hint of impatience). In March, I am enjoying it in all its glory, I take seconds every day to smell it and marvel at it (with a hint of helplessness, at how fast it will fade away). In August, I will accept it has gone through its cycle, and will be grateful for the joy it gave me (with a hint of sadness).

Trust that things will happen as they need to, enjoy the worthwhile moments as best you can, accept the fluctuating and cyclical nature of life.  In short, go with the flow. All a work in (slow) progress here.

In the meantime, we shall have our meal outside tonight. Just for the smell of jasmine in the spring.

I have been enjoying thoroughly cooking from Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga (I talked about her inspiring blog when I shared her leek flan recipe a while ago). This lamb meatballs recipe has become one of our family favorites, and is especially appropriate with the spring season (I usually cook leg of lamb for Easter).  We love lamb meat and have it on a regular basis (I started giving it to Pablo around 7 months). It is so flavorful, and this easy preparation really brings out the best of its flavor.

Herbed lamb meatballs in coconut milk, with quinoa

Very lightly adapted from Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 mn
Cook time: 20 mn

Age for babies: I would offer this between 10-12 mo because of the egg.

1 lb ground lamb
2 slices of bread, crust removed, crumbled (I used a ancient grain spelt bread)
1 clove of garlic
1 egg
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
10 sprigs fresh mint
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup sheep’s milk yogurt (or whole milk cow if you can’t find sheep)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the quinoa:
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
Leftover coconut milk (*I usually use cans of coconut milk, and using 1 1/2 cup above, there’s a bit leftover, which I add in to cook the quinoa)

Peel the garlic, pick the leaves of the mint and oregano off the stems. Place the garlic clove, oregano, mint and parsley in a small food processor to mince them very finely. (Alternatively, you can mince everything by hand).

Beat the egg lightly with a fork.

In a medium bowl, combine lamb, crumbled bread, minced garlic & herbs, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika and black pepper.

With your hands, mix just enough to combine. Form the meatballs and set aside on a plate.

In a large shallow pan, bring the coconut milk and 1/2 tsp of salt to a low simmer. Add the meatballs (they will not be submerged in the liquid). Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Make the quinoa: in a fine strainer, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear, drain well. Combine the quinoa and broth (and little bit of coconut milk if using) in a medium pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until translucent and you can see the germ spiraling out of the grains, about 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the pan. Stir the yogurt and lemon into the sauce.

Serve the quinoa in bowls. Add the meatballs. Drizzle some of the coconut/yogurt sauce on top.

Gnocchi and meatballs

The other weekend I had a guest over for the weekend, a red haired, little gourmand that happily ate everything I cooked for her. She had eggplants and tofu pasta and pork rolls stuffed with apples and prunes and apparently loved it all. On the last night, I prepared some little cute gnocchi, which I paired with just as cute little meatballs. And those were a big hit too. I loved having Luci around for the weekend and I hope she liked spending the weekend with me too.

These gnocchi are perfect for the little ones and are great for adults too. Luci seemed to particularly like the meatballs, while I was very happy to eat them that night and the leftovers the day after.

Gnocchi and meatballs


For the gnocchi

    • 1 large potato
    • 1 sweet potato
    • flour as needed
    • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

For the meatballs

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 pinch sage
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil


for the gnocchi

    1. Boil the whole, unpeeled potatoes until cooked through (about 20 minutes). When cooked, drain the potatoes and peel them. Place them in a colander and place the colander over the hot pan so that the potatoes can steam dry.
    2. Once the potatoes are dry and cool enough to handle, mash them using a potato ricer and add the grated parmesan and 2 tbsp flour. Mix the dough adding more flour if needed. The dough should stop being sticky, but should stay rather soft.
    3. Roll the dough out in long sticks and cut them in gnocchi a tad bigger than an hazelnut. Cook them by throwing them in salted boiling water in batches of about 20 gnocchi at a time. Fish them out as soon as they start floating and drain them.

For the meatballs

  1. Mix the turkey with the breadcrumbs, the sage, salt and pepper. Roll the meat into meatballs more or less the same size as the gnocchi.
  2. Cook the meatballs in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil. Mix the gnocchi and the cooked meatballs. Shave a generous amount of parmesan on top and serve hot.


World on a Plate is a monthly blogging event at which bloggers from around the world get together and share a typical recipe from their home country. This month is our first post and we are super excited to get started!

For our first time we decided to interpret Meatballs! We are starting out strong with members from all over the world to interpret meatballs in 8 different ways. Biren is offering a Malaysian meatball, Ewa a Swedish one, Katherine an American one, Hyosun a Korean one, Raymund a Philippine, Sofie a German, Vijitha a Southern Indian and I am offering an Italian one. I hope you will check out what everyone has done and take the time to discover more about World on a Plate!

Check out the Meatballs:

For my meatballs, I decided to make the meatballs I grew up with. This meatballs are not the ones you usually think of when you think about Italian meatballs. There is no tomato sauce and they are not made starting from raw ground beef. They are made from leftover cooked meat and they are by far the most common meatballs in North Italy.

This version of meatballs is made with any kind of meat leftovers, it doesn’t matter whether it is beef, chicken, pork or something more unusual like rabbit. When you are tired of eating the leftover meat, you get your food processor and create these wonderful meatballs.

In the recipe I intentionally give no doses, because this recipe is by nature a bit different every time. It is made with leftovers and you are not supposed to go out and buy stuff to make this recipe. Just open the fridge and use whatever needs using: the meatballs will be great!

World on a plate: Meatballs

World on a plate: Meatballs


  • leftover meat (any meat will do)
  • mortadella or other cured meat
  • grated hard cheese (typically Parmesan)
  • eggs (1 egg will bind about 1 cup of ground meats)
  • breadcrumbs
  • clove garlic (very little garlic will go a very long way)
  • parsley
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil


  1. In a food processor, finely chop the meats with the garlic and the parsley and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the grated cheese and the egg and mix well.
  3. Add enough breadcrumbs to get a non sticky mixture.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Form the mixture into relatively flat meatballs (they should look a bit like falafels).
  6. In a pan warm up about 1/2 inch of oil. When is hot shallow fry the meatballs a bit at a time, paying attention not to overcrowd the pan. Cook about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. When meatballs are fried, place on a dish lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.
  7. Serve the meatballs hot with a side of greens or peas (or anything else, but for some reason they are typically served with something green).