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These aren't your basic meatballs — the healthful combination of kale and pastured ground lamb sets the stage for this surprising risotto and silky tomato sauce. The full recipe takes some kitchen timing management, so read through all the steps before you get started. You'll be glad you made the effort!
Lamb & Kale Meatballs with Roasted Tomato Purée
2 lbs heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves
3 shallots, sliced
1 cup whole basil leaves
3 bunches kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 pound butter
2 pounds ground Lamb
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
salt, to taste
1/2 lb Arborio rice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup firm blue cheese, grated
Slice tomatoes in half. Season with salt, pepper and oil; place flat-side down on pan. Roast at 400 degrees F until soft and charred, about 25 minutes.
In a nonreactive saucepan, heat oil; sauté garlic and onion. Add tomatoes; simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in basil. Remove from heat; slowly add to blender and purée until smooth. Pass mixture through a strainer; season with salt and pepper.
Remove kale leaves from stems. In a pan, heat oil; add in onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Add kale; sauté until leaves are wilted. Add syrup, vinegar and stock; reduce until tender. Add butter; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until cold.
Squeeze out excess liquid from kale; reserve. (The reserved liquid makes a great addition to a sauce or a base for a vinaigrette.) Finely chop kale and add to ground lamb; mix until incorporated.
Form meatballs into 2-ounce balls; refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a pan, sauté meatballs in oil until golden brown. Finish in pan on low or in the oven for about 4 minutes.
In a separate pan, heat stock to a simmer. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add onion and garlic; season with salt to taste. Sauté for 3 minutes or until onions are slightly soft. Add rice; stir until slightly translucent on the edges. Add stock to cover rice; stir constantly, adding liquid as it gets incorporated into the rice. Continue stirring until the rice starts to become tender. Add in cream, butter and cheese. Check seasoning; adjust with salt if needed. Simmer for 2 minutes and serve immediately.
To serve: Place Blue Cheese Risotto on serving plate. Add 5 meatballs and top with Smoked Tomato Purée. Add crostini if desired.