Thursday, May 24, 2012

goat cheese stuffed lamb balls with spinach cumin pesto

This is the part of spring when out farmer's markets, gardens, CSAs and grocery stores have a plethora of leafy greens.... spinach, kale, chard, etc. How to use these in interesting ways? Pestos are always great for this... I take a lot of creative liberty with the idea of pesto (see: walnut ricotta pesto; pistachio arugula pesto; jalapeno peanut pesto; corn bacon pesto; pepita pesto), but greens do pesto best. Not to mention how pretty green pestos are. 

In this recipe, I also use greens, spinach, in the meatballs. I'm not trying to be all sneaky and trick you into eating vegetables. I think the spinach adds some moisture, color and freshness to the lamb. Over all this dish screams "spring!" You can simply eat the balls dipped in the pesto. You could also put them in a pita or on a salad. 

Lamb Meatballs filled with Goat Cheese, Mint and Honey
Filling:-4 oz. goat cheese
-12 mint leaves, minced
-2 teaspoons honey
Meatballs:-1 lb. ground lamb
-2 cups fresh spinach, chopped fine (about 1 cup after chopped)
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 shallot, minced
-1 egg
-salt and pepper 
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Make the filling by combining all 3 ingredients in a bowl. Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a seperate bowl until well-combined. Make ping pong-ball size balls with the meat mixture, then flatten into a thick disc. Put a pinch of the goat cheese mixture in the middle of the disc and gently gather the sides up around the cheese to seal and reform into a ball. Repeat until you run out of meat mixture. Place balls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, turning the balls halfway through cooking. Serve with warm with spinach cumin pesto.

Spinach Cumin Pesto
- 4 handfuls of fresh spinach
-2 or 3 mint leaves
-2 cloves garlic
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 teaspoon coriander
-6 oz. plain Greek yogurt 
Pulse everything but the yogurt in a food processor until well-chopped. Add yogurt and puree. 

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