Lamb and Lemon Meatballs with Golden Roast Tomatoes

I have the palest green almost yellow elongated cherry tomatoes amongst my bounty a friend sent from I’ve taken to roasting them with crushed garlic and olive oil, just long enough that the skin splits and the flesh is soft and juicy but before they burst. The look almost iridescent, like bald gooseberries or large beans. I leave them to go cool in their multiplying juices that mingle with the oil into a lovely tomato vinaigrette. I love these jewels piled over mozzarella, maybe with quickly blanched peeled broad beans, their vibrant, bright green a stunning contrast of textures and flavours with a splash of my prized Colonna Grandverde, extra virgin olive oil with essential oil of lemons (thank you Cooked thus and perhaps tossed with chopped basil or other soft herbs, these and other cherry tomatoes make an attractive addition to many dishes and double as a faux sauce as I served them here. My meatballs are a mix of softened chopped onion stirred with chopped spinach and lemon zest, mixed with egg yolk and breadcrumbs to firm the mixture. It is though soft and benefits from being left in the fridge for half an hour or so to firm up before frying. This combination of crusty meatballs, soft gooey tomatoes and minty buttered new potatoes comes highly recommended.

Serves 2

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 20 min

25g fresh breadcrumbs

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 onion

10g butter

3 tbsp vegetable oil

50g spinach

200g lamb mince

1 lemon

1 egg yolk

for the tomatoes:

1 garlic clove

3 tbsp best olive oil

20 pale, plum-shaped (or other) cherry tomatoes

a few basil, oregano or flat leaf parsley leaves

     Place the breadcrumbs in a cup and stir in the yoghurt to thoroughly mix. Halve, peel and finely chop the onion and soften gently in the butter melted in 1 tbsp vegetable oil. When slippery soft, stir in the chopped spinach, stirring as it wilts. Turn off the heat. Spread the lamb out in a mixing bowl and microplane (fine grate) the zest of most of the lemon over the top. Season with salt and pepper, add spoonfuls of breadcrumb mix over the top and add the egg yolk and cooled onion and spinach. Use a fork to mix and mulch, continuing with your hands, working the mixture into a soft, sloppy ball. With wet hands, pinch off walnut-size balls of the mix and quickly work into balls between your hands, transferring to a plate as you go; expect to make 20 balls. Cover with a stretch of clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes to firm. Heat remaining oil over a medium heat and fry the balls in uncrowded batches for a couple of minutes a side until nicely crusty and golden and just cooked through. Transfer to a kitchen paper to drain. While the meatballs chill and firm, prepare the tomatoes. Chop and crush the garlic to a rough paste. Stir into 3 tbsp best olive oil in a small oven-proof pan that can just hold the tomatoes in a single layer – I use a small Le Creuset frying pan. Add the tomatoes and use a small sharp knife to pierce each one (to avoid bursting), shaking the pan a few times to evenly oil them. Pop in the oven, turn to 180C and check after 10 minutes; the skins are likely to split, the liquid content upped and tomatoes tender. If not leave a little longer. Tip into a serving dish to cool, add chopped herbs and enjoy now or later.