I love autumn, with the crisp air, jeans and sweaters, changing leaves, and firepit evenings. Unfortunately, in North Texas fall doesn’t actually start until about November. It’s still hot, we’re still wearing shorts, and if we go out after dark we still get eaten by mosquitoes. It’s a difficult time because we get these little teases of cooler weather – we’ll get a few mornings in the high 60s, the leaves do change, and our power lines are filled with birds flying south. But then we still have to plan flexible Halloween costumes because it could be anywhere from 25 to 95° when we trick-or-treat.
That said, it’s hard to not start buying into all the fall hype – the clothes, the activities, and, of course, the food (sparing pumpkin spice lattes because it seems weird to order them iced). So we’re sweating in our scarves and boots, wearing tank tops to the pumpkin patch, and eating lamb meatballs anyways because it’s October and we’re tired of salad. These meatballs taste like fall, they’re easy, and make your house smell amazing. This recipe will feed 4-6 adults. They do, however, take a bit of time, so plan accordingly.
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 normal sized bag spinach
1 large (or 2 small) red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 small container of feta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko
2 cups orzo
3-4 cups chicken or beef broth (water will work in a pinch)
lemon and mint leaves for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Pour the spinach into a large bowl and microwave for about a minute until it’s nice and wilted. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, mix together the lamb, onion, garlic, panko, eggs, and about 3/4 of the feta cheese. When cooled, add the spinach, a generous shake of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and, using your hands, squish everything together and form into meatballs a bit smaller than ping pong balls.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (I use a dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Fry the meatballs for a few minutes on each side until they’re browned on each side (10-12 minutes). I usually fry mine in 2-3 batches. Move the cooked meatballs to a plate to cool.
- When all meatballs are cooked through, in the same pan add the orzo and 3 cups of broth and stir together. Put the meatballs on top of the orzo, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, check and see if the broth has been absorbed – if it seems dry add in a bit more, and bake uncovered for 10 more minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, mint leaves, and top with the remaining feta.