The car in front of me at the traffic light had a bumper sticker:
The Things That Matter the Most in Life Aren’t Things
Yes, true, the person who wrote this was smart and righteous but for sure hadn’t seen the things I got last mother’s day, things no woman can do without:
No woman should live without an entire book about her – listing all her great qualities and containing illustrations showing she’s super-model thin with angel wings.
Every woman must have a stylish canvas bag with a heart ‘that goes with everything to anything’.
And most important, no one should live without a set of painted rocks. Don’t ask why, just trust me.
I didn’t just get wonderful mother’s day gifts that week. The Man decided to work from home one whole day! I like it when I can pop in to his office to chat, and I absolutely love eating lunch together.
When I imagined our lunch together that day, it had spiced soft chickpeas, yellow from traces of turmeric. There was spinach and squash, and moist juicy meatballs. Reality was a dish good enough to tell people about, people being you. So here you go.
Middle Eastern Ground Chicken Meatballs
The meatballs could be any meatballs you have in the house. What makes this dish are the spices.
For the meatballs
makes about 16
1 pound / ½ kilo ground chicken thighs
1 peeled potato
1 peeled small yam
2 celery sticks
a bunch of parsley- cut off thick stems
1 thick slice challah bread or soft white bread
salt and freshly ground pepper
*1 teaspoon of each: cumin, turmeric, coriander, sweet paprika
For the stew
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dried chickpeas – soaked overnight in lots of cold water and strain well
2 large fistfuls of baby spinach
½ butternut squash – a peeled and roughly chopped
*Mix the spices together
Grate finely (can be done in a food processor): potato, yam and zucchini. Make sure you squeeze the excess water out of the zucchini before you add it to the mixture.
Use a food processor to chop and mix: parsley, celery, onion and slice of bread/challah. Mix together with the grated vegetables, egg, ground chicken and breadcrumbs. Add 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture. I recommended frying a mini meatball at this point to check seasoning.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Create about 16 balls and either fry them lightly in hot shallow oil or roast them in a very hot oven. Meanwhile, in a wide pot that can be placed in the oven, heat the oil and sauté the chickpeas with the remainder of the spices (2 teaspoons), while stirring. After 1-2 minutes add the spinach and mix well. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
At the end of this time, assuming you’ve finished frying the meatballs, add the squash, stir and gently place the meatballs in the pot. One by one push them halfway into the vegetable and sauce mix. If you’re feeling indulgent drizzle a few tablespoons of the frying oil on top (I saw a grandma do that once). If not, salt a little and cook covered for 15 minutes.
Transfer to an oven preheated to 300f / 150c for 1 hour. After that you can set the table and dig in!