Lila’s Lamb Meatballs with a Roasted Tomato Purée

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In this versatile recipe from Brian Alberg, powerful flavors come together to create a dish that’s at once savory, aromatic and exceptionally rich. What’s great about this preparation, according to Alberg, is that it can be served as a light appetizer with crostini or as a hearty main course accompanied by a creamy risotto or even some fresh naan.


Servings: 4


For lamb meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 bunches kale, cleaned from stems
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
For the tomato puree
  • 2 pounds heirloom or Beefsteak tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper


For the lamb meatballs
  1. Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add in onion and garlic, sauté until translucent.
  2. Incorporate kale leaves and sauté until wilted. Follow with maple syrup, vinegar, stock. Reduce mixture until tender. Finally, add in butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Refrigerate mixture until cold. When mixture is cold, squeeze out excess liquid from kale and reserve. (The reserved liquid makes a great addition to the tomato puree.)
  4. Finely chop kale and add to ground lamb, mix until incorporated.
  5. Cook off a small piece of the ground lamb mixture and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Form meatballs into two ounce balls (they should be smaller than a golf ball). Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.
  7. Sauté meatballs in olive oil until golden brown. Finish in pan on low or in the oven, they only take about four minutes.
  8. Serve the meatballs, garnished with the tomato puree, in a shallow bowl.
For the tomato puree
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Place tomatoes flat side down on a sheet pan and roast at until soft and charred, about 25 minutes.
  3. Heat olive oil in a stainless steel or Teflon pan, then sauté garlic and onions. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in Basil leaves. Remove.
  4. Slowly add the tomato mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Pass through a chinoise, or a fine strainer. Season with salt and pepper.

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