Beef meatballs with orecchiette, kale and pine nuts

Serves 4

Beef meatballs with orecchiette, kale and pine nuts

Orecchiette means "little ears", and refers to the ear shaped pasta traditionally used in a Puglian dish of broccoli, anchovy and chilli. This dish is similar in feel, with kale instead of broccoli, and the meatballs replacing the anchovy and chilli.


  • 500g dried orecchiette pasta
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 200g kale or cavolo nero, shredded
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

For the meatballs

  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 500g minced beef
  • 75g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • 1 large handful of tortilla chips, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp jalapeno peppers, deseeded and chopped
  1. First prepare the meatballs. Saute the onion and garlic with seasoning in a hot oiled frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured, adding the chilli flakes after a minute or two. Place the mince in a large bowl and add seasoning. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and moisten with the milk. Add seasoning, then stir the breadcrumbs and onion mixture into the mince and combine well. With wet hands, shape the mince mixture into small balls about 2cm wide. Transfer to a lightly greased plate or tray and chill for 30 minutes until firm.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, according to packet instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a little olive oil. Brown the meatballs for 6 minutes coloured on all sides. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until tender, then add the kale and season. Sweat the kale over a medium heat for 5 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water from the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary, the stir in the pine nuts.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Tip the pasta into the pan with the meatballs and stir over a medium-low heat until well mixed. Add a good handful of finely grated Parmesan, and mix well with a little cooking water to help coat the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  5. Serve garnished with another grating of Parmesan.
comments powered by Disqus