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Meatball Pilaf with Green Beans & Peppers

This certainly isn’t a dish for a weeknight, given the times involved. I could also only consider it because we are finally getting a few cooler days interspersed with the really hot ones. However as usual with me, the actual work was neither difficult nor time consuming, making this a fine thing to make on a weekend. Also good for entertaining; you just have to pull it out of the oven and serve it with no last minute fussing required. A good crisp salad would finish the menu nicely, this one seems appropriate.

While this was lovely with fresh vegetables from the garden, it would actually do very well made in the winter, with frozen beans, greenhouse or dried peppers, and canned tomatoes. About 3 cups of diced or crushed tomato in that case, I would think. If I had had any celery I would have put in a stalk or two with the onion. Garlic is a bit betwixt and between at the moment. The old stuff is, well, old; and the new stuff is pulled from the garden,but hanging in the garage to cure for a couple of weeks. Still, I made a Turkish garlic sauce for the leftovers (you know the routine; a fat clove of garlic and a pinch of salt to about a cup of thick yogurt) and it went very well. This isn’t a traditional Turkish dish, but it’s definitely Turkish inspired.

6 servings  
2 hours and 30 minutes – 45 minutes prep time
not including resting time for meatballs (up to 2 hours)

Meatball Pilaf with Green Beans & Peppers

Make the Meatballs:
1 medium fresh onion, with green top
500 grams (1 pound) lean ground beef
400 grams (1 pound) lean ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons rubbed savory or thyme
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil, if needed

Trim the onion; set the green top aside to go into the rice. Peel and chop the bulb of the onion finely. Put it in a mixing bowl with the 2 meats.

Add the seasonings to the meat, including the parsley and mint once they have been washed, dried, and finely chopped. Mix very thoroughly. Form the mixture into 18 to 24 patties, keeping them about 3/4″ thick. If possible, cover and let them rest (refrigerated) for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat a large skillet over high heat, and cook the patties in batches until browned; just a minute or two on each side. Put them into a large shallow roasting pan (such as a 9″ x 13″ lasagne pan) as they are cooked. Use the oil if it is required to prevent sticking. Don’t wash the pan once you are done – you will want to sauté some veggies still.

Finish the Pilaf:
300 grams (10 ounces) green beans
3 or 4 medium-large (450 grams; 1 pound) tomatoes
1 or 2 medium sweet banana peppers or similar
the green top from 1 fresh onion
2 cups medium grain white rice
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon salt

Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil. Wash and trim the beans, and cut them into thirds or quarters. When the water boils, blanch them for 1 minute then remove them and drain them well. In the same water, blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute, then remove them and rinse them in cold water. Remove the skins.

Wash, trim, and de-seed the pepper(s). Chop them, not too finely. Wash, trim and chop the green onion top.

Using the pan the meatball patties were browned in, cook the pepper pieces until soft and slightly browned in spots. Add the green onions and beans, and cook for another minute or two, until the onion greens are wilted. Sprinkle the vegetables over the meatballs. Sprinkle the rice over the meatballs, and finish with the chopped tomatoes. Stir gently until evenly combined, trying not to break the meatballs.

Heat the water to boiling with the salt. (Or if your blanching water is clean, you can use some of that.) Pour it gently over the pilaf. Make sure all the rice is below the water line. Cover the pan, with foil if it does not have its own lid. Bake at 350°F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the rice is cooked. It is a good idea to stir gently once or twice as it cooks. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


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