Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A new kind of squash stew, and meatballs (the horror!)

Having roasted a whole shoulder of lamb for three people on the weekend, my dear better half left the remains in the kitchen for me to deal with*. I hate wasting food. So I searched online to find out what other people do with leftover cooked bits of meat. Husband won't eat the same thing twice and he turns up his nose at cold meat sandwiches. I found lots of ideas: moussaka, lamb crumble, shredded lamb with spices and flatbreads, and rissoles. I decided that rissoles seemed the easiest way to use up the lamb as an addition to a vegetable stew that I was planning. So this concoction was born.

The vegetable stew I'd planned was a variation on Deborah Madison's squash and spinach stew, which she flavours with a base of almonds (say 12 for two people), dried chillies (3), a tsp of cumin and a few sesame seeds. She toasts and grinds these to add to softened onions and form an aromatic base for the stew.

It doesn't sound like much but it's a deliciously original combination of flavours, and it really lifts an ordinary tomato-and-vegetable stew. So I have started using the almond-chilli-cumin base as the starting point for almost any combination of vegetables and lentils. Yesterday's had a few coriander seeds added (and rosewater would have been good, if I'd thought of it). Softened onions, ground spices, then chunks of squash and cooked (leftover) courgette slices, a couple of scoops of (no-soak) red lentils, a tin of tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes. Ta da! Simple, low fat, and highly flavoured. It's sort of like chilli, I suppose, but the almonds give it a more unique taste.

On top of his, husband had these delicious-smelling meatballs:

In mini chopper or food processor, mince:
2 packed cupfuls cooked lamb
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 fat clove garlic
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1tbsp finely chopped mint
1tbsp finely chopped coriander stalks

Season, then add a beaten egg. Chill for as long as poss. Flour your hands and squeeze firmly to make smallish meatballs, and fry in very little olive oil until brown and crusty on both sides. Top with yoghurt/lemon juice/mint if liked.

* I am a vegetarian, of course, but not one of the unbearably squeamish or preachy sort. No crying over bones for me.