Tomato Salad with Orange & Mint Meatball Pasta

I was not a fan of touching raw meat before I lived with Peter.  Raw meat was so scary that I cooked almost exclusively vegetarian meals, but as you might be thinking, meat is Peter’s fourth favorite thing, and while he ate mostly vegetarian while living with JI, he didn’t relish surviving graduate school without the occasional roast, steak, or burger.  I started out slow: already prepared chicken breasts.  Then there was the epic first WHOLE roasted chicken.  And for some reason I agreed to try making a pot roast sometime after that.  Let’s just say things have gotten so out of control that I finally made my first ground meat dish tonight: meatballs with orange and mint.  And this involved squeezing and mixing the raw meat with my bare fingers… uck.  I must admit, however, that the finished product was well-worth any trauma the ground beef may have caused.

Pasta with Orange & Mint Meatballs — From In Late Winter We Ate Pears
(serves 2 with many meatballs left over)

Orange and Mint Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup orange zest
2 eggs
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/8-1/4 cup minced fresh mint
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1-2 oranges
Olive oil for cooking meatballs
Mix beef, bread crumbs, orange zest, eggs, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well-combined.  This is best done with bare hands so that you can tell when everything is mixed uniformly into the ground beef.  Shape the meatball mixture into small meatballs (the diameter of a dime or quarter, but I found it hard to shape them as small as a dime) and put them on a plate in preparation for cooking.  Brown the meatballs on both sides in a lightly oiled skillet; they should be cooked through at this point.  Transfer the meatballs to a stainless steel or glass pot with as little of their oil as possible and cook them with the orange juice just to produce a nice glaze.  Once the orange juice has thickened and been almost completely reduced, transfer the meatballs to a plate to drain or just cool.  Wipe out the skillet and pot before cooking the next batch.

Pasta:
2 portions spaghetti (one portion is a bundle about the thickness of a nickel)
Salt
Parmesan cheese
Minced parsley and orange slices for garnish
Cook pasta in heavily salted water until cooked al dente.  Mix pasta with the meatballs and Parmesan cheese.  Add a drizzle of olive oil if the pasta seems too dry.  Garnish plates of pasta with parsley and orange slices.

Tomato Salad with Spring Hill Goat White Cheddar Cheese
(serves half a person, so double or triple accordingly)
1 heirloom tomato (or any delicious tomato)
Slices of Spring Hill Goat White Cheddar Cheese or other very strong flavored cheese
Basil leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Slice tomato in large slices.  Drizzle olive oil over tomato slices and then season tomato with salt and pepper.  Top with cheese and basil leaves.

The possibilities for tomato salads are endless.  They work with almost any kind of cheese, basil, vinegar, olive oil, onion, or avocado combination.  I only include a recipe for one version here to remind you that it exists, and also to encourage you to try the goat white cheddar.

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6 thoughts on “Tomato Salad with Orange & Mint Meatball Pasta

  1. Looks wonderful! How did the whole roasted chicken adventure turn out? Although I’ve heard many folks call whole chickens an “easy” recipe (presumably because they often have minimal prep work and then you just stick in the oven and wait), I feel like it’s actually much harder than that. Preserving moistness and getting the chicken cooked through.

    These first posts have all been awesome! Looking forward to the next ones!

    • Maybe I’ll post on roast chicken soon! It is soooo delicious and easy for all the reasons you mention; after the first one (when I practically ripped apart the bird to ensure that there was no pink ANYWHERE), I never really worried about it… in that stabbing it once and seeing clear instead of pink juices has never let me down, as long as you know where to stab. We don’t really eat meat very often, so I can’t promise roast chicken too soon, but now you’ve got me thinking about it 🙂

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  3. This was the first time I cooked meat in my whole life (vegetarian!) and that’s my excuse for my meatballs looking a bit odd, but they were still delicious (said my meat-eating European companions, who all expressed skepticism when I pulled out the oranges). The glaze is really something. Thanks for another great recipe 🙂

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