Veal Meatballs with Spicy Peas

Veal Meatballs with Spicy Peas

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Adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali

Serves 4

For the meatballs
1 lb ground veal
1 large egg
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups grated parmigiano reggiano
1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup, plus more to garnish
4 slices white sandwich bread, soaked in 2/3 cup milk, then torn into chunks
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

For the peas
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste (can use paste in a tube)
3-4 cups fresh green peas (can substitute frozen)
Sea salt
6-8 mint leaves

In a large mixing bowl, combine the veal, egg, garlic, lemon zest, 1 cup of Parmesan, parsley, the bread chunks, and salt and pepper to taste, mixing with hands or a wooden spoon. Mold the meat mixture into small meatballs about the size of golf balls. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and dredge each meatball through the flour, shaking off any excess. In a nonstick sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add the meatballs, and cook over a gentle heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through and golden brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. (Let the meatball brown well before flipping or they can break apart.)

Meanwhile, prepare the peas. In a large sauté pan heat the oil until smoking. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the sugar, chili flakes, and tomato paste and cook until rusty-looking, 4-5 minutes. Add the peas and cook briefly, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and garnish with mint leaves.

When the meatballs are cooked, pour the lemon juice over them, making sure that each meatball absorbs some of the juice and lemon flavor. Garnish with parsley, Parmesan, and chili flakes. Serve immediately with spicy peas.

Cook’s note: I tend to make the peas first and then warm them quickly just before the meatballs are done cooking.

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