June 01, 2011

Mediterranean inspired meatballs with orzo and roasted tomatoes

It is June. Officially. And it is pouring outside. A "flood warning" (meaning larger than normal puddles) has been in effect where I live for the last week. I am beginning to wonder, as every person in the Pacific Northwest does this time of year: will summer ever come? I mean, sure we had those sunny teaser days when we all think: "Here it is! Sunshine every day until October!" But then, the rain starts again.

This year, however, I am determined to embrace the never-ending gray sogginess outside my window. After all, I am a true Oregonian in every way, and come mid-September when we will have endured four of five straight weeks of nothing but sunshine (ugh), I will be getting a little irritable and whiny, as does every other native here, pining after days when we can pull the sweaters out of storage under the bed and make chili for dinner.

So, I have decided take advantage of the gloomy weather and look on the bright side (figuratively speaking, of course). Because clouds and rain mean that comfort food is still in season, and bathing suit season is not yet upon us. Hallelujah.

And so, this recipe is a nod to the absence of laying poolside in next to nothing. It is pasta and meatballs. Gray clouds? Bring 'em on!

Mediterranean inspired meatballs with orzo
serves somewhere around 4 or 5
3 tomatoes on the vine, sliced
cooking spray, a little olive oil, salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup parsley, chopped, and more for garnish
3/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 lb ground turkey
1 large lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
Preheat the oven to 350. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray. Place tomatoes on the sheet in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare pasta and meatballs.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook about 10 minutes, or until no longer chewy. Turn off heat, drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Stir in 1 tbsp olive oil.
Combine bread crumbs, parsley,onion, and 1 tbsp olive oil in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Put this mixture in a large bowl. Add the egg, feta, and turkey. Zest the lemon and add the zest to the turkey mix. (then cut the lemon into wedges and serve the wedges with the dish) Combine the turkey mixture together with your hands. Form about 16 meatballs out of the mixture. Then heat 1 tbsp olive oil and the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a small sauce pan. (I did mention that this was not a low-fat dish, right?) Carefully add the meatballs to the pan in three batches, about five meatballs per batch. Let brown on one side for about two minutes, then flip and let brown on the other side for two more minutes. Then cover the pan and let the meatballs cook about eight minutes. Transfer to a dish and repeat with the next two batches.
Serve meatballs over the pasta, topped with kalamata olives, roasted tomatoes, and lemon wedges to squeeze over the pasta. Enjoy.

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