Recipe

Beef & mozzarella meatballs with fennel & silver beet

  • 4 hrs cooking
  • Serves 6
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Ingredients

Beef & mozzarella meatballs with fennel & silver beet
  • 1 kilogram minced beef
  • 1 cup (70g) stale breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup (80g) finely grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 clove garlic, crushed
  • 80 gram mozzarella, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 2 brown onions (300g), chopped finely
  • 1 fennel bulb (300g), trimmed, sliced thinly
  • 3 1/2 cup bottled tomato passata
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken or beef stock
  • 3 silver beet (swiss chard) leaves, trimmed, shredded finely
  • 500 gram cavatelli or other short chunky pasta
  • 2 tablespoon finely grated parmesan, extra
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, extra

Method

Beef & mozzarella meatballs with fennel & silver beet
  • 1
    Combine beef, breadcrumbs, rind, parmesan, eggs, chopped parsley and half the garlic in a large bowl; season to taste. Roll rounded tablespoons of mixture into balls, press a piece of mozzarella into the centre of each meatball, shaping as you go to completely enclose the cheese. Place meatballs on a tray, cover; refrigerate 20 minutes.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • 3
    Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook 5 minutes or until browned all over, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer meatballs to a 3-litre (12-cup) ovenproof dish. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of oil and remaining meatballs.
  • 4
    Wipe out pan. Heat remaining oil in same pan over high heat; cook onion, fennel and remaining garlic, stirring, 5 minutes or until softened. Add fennel mixture to meatballs with passata, stock and silver beet; stir until combined. Season to taste.
  • 5
    Bake, covered, 45 minutes or until fennel is tender.
  • 6
    Meanwhile, 15 minutes before meatballs are ready, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until almost tender; drain and keep warm.
  • 7
    Serve pasta topped with meatballs, extra parmesan and extra parsley.

Notes

It is best to use a mince that isn't too lean otherwise the meatballs will be dry. Cavatelli pasta resembles a split hot dog bun in shape. It is available from some delis and green grocers. You can use any other short or tubular pasta instead.

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