Chef's Recipes

Lamb meatballs, risoni, yogurt and cucumber

A cross between a salad and a main course, this is a certified hit from Melbourne restaurant Harley & Rose.

By Josh Murphy and Rory Cowcher
  • Serves 6
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking
Lamb meatballs, risoni, yogurt and cucumber

"We were looking for a simple main course for Harley & Rose," says Josh Murphy. "I was thinking about the lamb sausages that I used to eat at Gigibaba, and Rory had come to me and said: 'do you like risoni?' I really like it. It's uncool to like it, but I do. Rory suggested it could be the basis of the best pasta salad around, but then we thought about the lamb and the two things seemed to belong together."

Ingredients

  • 240 gm risoni
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers
  • Juice of 1½ lemons
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) mint
  • Dandelion leaves (optional; see note), to serve
Lamb meatballs
  • 900 gm coarsely minced lamb with a good amount of fat, preferably from the shoulder
  • 50 gm finely grated Grana Padano
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp biber salcasi (see note)
  • 2 tsp Turkish chilli flakes (see note)
  • ½ cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
Yoghurt dressing
  • 300 gm plain yoghurt, drained overnight in a sieve lined with muslin, 30ml whey reserved
  • 70 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  • 1
    For dressing, whisk yoghurt and whey in a bowl, slowly adding the oil until smooth. Add lemon juice, season to taste, then add a little water to thin to a drizzling consistency.
  • 2
    For meatballs, combine ingredients in a bowl with 2 tsp sea salt and 1½ tsp ground black pepper, then form into walnut-sized balls (about 50gm each).
  • 3
    Cook risoni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (7-8 minutes). Drain, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and set aside to cool.
  • 4
    Wrap cucumbers in a clean tea towel and lightly crush with a rolling pin. Cut lengthwise at 1cm intervals, drain off excess juice and set aside.
  • 5
    Preheat oven to 170°C. Heat a frying pan over high heat, add remaining oil and brown meatballs in two batches (6-8 minutes per batch). Transfer to a baking dish and roast until cooked (8-10 minutes). Remove from oven and drizzle with a third of the lemon juice.
  • 6
    Combine risoni, spring onions, cucumber and half the mint in a bowl. Add remaining lemon juice and half the yoghurt, season to taste and toss to coat and combine. Divide risoni salad and meatballs among serving bowls, drizzle with remaining dressing and olive oil and scatter with dandelion leaves and remaining mint to serve.

Notes

Dandelion leaves are available from farmer's markets and select greengrocers. Biber salcasi, a red pepper paste, is available from Turkish and Middle Eastern grocers. Turkish chilli flakes are available from essentialingredient.com.au.
Drink suggestion: A textured and layered white matches well with this dish. The 2017 Borachio "Gold Tooth" sauvignon blanc blend from the Adelaide Hills, say. Drink suggestion by Mark Williamson.

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  • Author: Josh Murphy and Rory Cowcher