Lamb meatballs and pea pilaf with honey roasted vegetables

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A few years ago before I discovered how delicious free-from cooking could be, the idea of having to cook for ‘normal’ eaters whilst still having to cook for myself would have gotten me in a huge panic and there is a possibility I would have treated my diners to a takeaway meal to satisfy their hunger. I didn’t believe to begin with that cooking gluten, wheat and dairy free could compare in taste with normal ingredients and be enjoyed by people who had no food problems at all – how wrong was I.

After many trials and errors in the kitchen over the past couple of years, I have now built up the confidence to take a recipe and re-create it into a ‘tummy happy’ recipe and luckily my friends and family have taken on the job as trial guinea pigs without me even having to ask.

This week, I treated my family to an Asian inspired recipe that is not only easy to make, but delicious too. Although the basic recipe only contained peas, I decided to throw in some roasted courgettes and peppers drizzled with honey to give the dish extra flavour and colour. I have written the recipe to serve 3-4 people, but it can easily be adjusted to make a meal for one or is ideal for cooking in batch and then freezing. If possible, allow the rice to cook in another frying pan whist the meatballs are browning as it will take longer to soften if cooking enough for 4 people.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 500g minced lamb
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 200g frozen peas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Lamb or vegetable stock to cover the rice
  • One red and one yellow pepper
  • 2 courgettes
  • Honey to drizzle

For the yoghurt dip

  • 150ml pot of yoghurt (either Greek or soya/goat yoghurt depending on allergies)
  • 1/2 cucumber grated or finely sliced
  • Mint (either fresh leaves or from a jar)

1) Begin by mixing the lamb with 2 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 teaspoon of cumin powder, then season and shape into around 16-18 meatballs (smaller meatballs are more ideal for browning) Leave in the fridge for an hour to set or otherwise heat a large frying pan and fry the meatballs until they turn golden and are thoroughly cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2) Heat the oven to about 190 and chop up the courgettes and peppers, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with honey, then place on a greased proof tray and cook in the oven for 30 minutes until golden and crispy.

3) Tip all of the rice into the frying pan, sprinkle on a teaspoon of cumin powder and the remaining clove of crushed garlic and let it fry for 30 seconds, making sure they are coated well in oil. Pour in enough stock to cover and allow the rice to absorb all of the liquid

4) Towards the end, stir in the peas and return the meatballs to the pan to heat up. To make the yoghurt dip, mix the cucumber, yoghurt, and half of the mint together and season with pepper and half of the lemon juice.

5) To finish the dish, squeeze in the juice of the remaining lemon half, season to taste and mix the rice and meatballs in with the honey roasted peppers and courgettes. Serve with a generous amount of the cucumber yoghurt.

The combination of lamb meatballs and cucumber yoghurt is also delicious with free-from pitta breads available in supermarkets.

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