Pork and Lemon Meatballs with Lemon and Basil Linguine

by Kristin on May 5, 2011

On a warm, sunny day, there’s no prettier place to be than Ireland. Brilliant yellow fields of rapeseed are at their peak right now, everything seems to be in bloom and the windows in the house are thrown wide open to let in the fresh air. After a long, cold winter, we’ve had a few straight weeks of sunshine on the east coast in Ireland and I’m craving bright, fresh flavors. It’s not quite warm enough yet to be fully fledged salad weather, but this lemony take on spaghetti and meatballs is just right for this time of year, when you want something a little lighter after months of stews, braises and casseroles.

If you like this recipe, you might also like Rigatoni with Pork and Lemon Ragu, Lemon Fusilli, Lemon and Pea Risotto or Gnocchi with Peas, Pancetta and Lemon Ricotta. Or for more meatball recipes, try Polpette di Melanzane (Eggplant “Meatballs”), Turkey Meatballs with Walnuts, Cilantro and Raisins with a Lemon Cumin Yogurt Sauce, Swedish Meatballs, or Spring Rolls with Pork Meatballs and Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Pork and Lemon Meatballs
adapted from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater (or you can see the original recipe here)

Serves 4 to 6

Nigel Slater calls these “delectable little balls.” I just call them addictive.

1 lb 2 oz (500 g) pork mince
3/4 cup (75 g) fresh white breadcrumbs
10 anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
1 egg, beaten
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (25 g) grated Parmesan
a large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Put the pork, breadcrumbs, chopped anchovies, beaten egg, lemon zest and juice, Parmesan and parsley into a large mixing bowl. Season with a little salt (not too much because the anchovies and Parmesan are already salty) and a generous amount of black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Form the mixture into balls, using about 1 heaped tablespoon of the mixture for each meatball. Place them on the lined baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re golden brown and cooked through. Serve on top of the lemon and basil linguine.

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Lemon and Basil Linguine
adapted from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

Serves 4

This is a quick, simple recipe that lends itself to any number of adaptations — try adding in some garlic, chilli flakes or anchovies or using parsley instead of basil.

1 lb (450 g) linguine or spaghetti
juice of 2 large lemons
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
1 1/2 cups (150 g) freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
1 or 2 large handfuls of basil leaves, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan in a warm jug (warmed under a running hot tap, then dried) until it’s thick and grainy. Add in the basil, season to taste and mix again.

When the pasta has finished cooking, reserve a mugful of the cooking water. Toss the drained, hot pasta in the lemon and Parmesan sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water if you think the pasta looks too dry. Serve immediately with some extra Parmesan grated over.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

takeonefamily May 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

These sound good, I never use anchovies but have just bought a jar with the plan to start introducing them into my cooking. There are so many variations on meatballs. An American friend of mine makes them with pork and beef mince, a packet of onion soup mix, soured cream and breadcrumbs. They taste better than they sound.

Ailbhe May 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Love using anchovies to give that hidden little ‘umphh’. Like the sound of the lemony pasta – would be nice with some grilled chicken breast too Mmm

TheGlutton May 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

This sounds amazing and I don’t recall the recipe from Kitchen Diaries! I think I need to revisit that book, it has obviously been too long :) Picture is great.

Kristin May 5, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Takeonefamily, the trick with the anchovies in this recipe is to chop them up as finely as you can – you won’t necessarily even know they’re in there, just that there’s some extra umami goodness. And if you cook them in a frying pan, like if you’re adding them to a pasta sauce, they’ll just dissolve.

Ailbhe, anchovies are my secret ingredient in loads of recipes, like the pizza sauce I make. The pasta recipe is practically a blank canvas that could be infinitely varied – chicken sounds good too.

Glutton, not only is this recipe in The Kitchen Diaires, but it was in his Guardian column way back in 2008, which is where I first noticed it (despite also having the book – I too overlooked it there) and had it bookmarked for ages. I’m kicking myself now for not making them sooner – they’re so good I made them twice in two weeks!

Sharon May 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Those meatballs look terrific. They would make a great party food, but they also sound amazing with that simple pasta. Yum.

Móna Wise May 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Lovely photo. Meatballs are a big favourite at our house and we are having them tomorrow. I love the idea of the anchovies. We use them a lot too. Keep the windows open, looks like a nice weekend again!

Kathy Mercure May 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve visited your site. Found you of foodblogs.com. I must say pretty much every dish you’ve cooked is something I want to eat. I’m glad to have found you!

Kristin May 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Sharon, I hadn’t thought of these as party food, but you’re absolutely right, they’d make a great snack just served on their own.

Mona, I had meatballs again tonight – the aubergine “meatballs” I blogged about last year, another favourite. As you can tell, we love them too!

Kathy, thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the recipes.

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