Midsummer is worth celebrating, don’t you think? And in the only way I know how – feasting. Last week’s recipe for a Summer Sharing Platter was a perfect starter to a feast. So this week, it’s time for main course – chicken meatballs with a herby buttery sauce and broad beans, peas and spinach. Pudding will follow soon.

I really like main courses that arrive at the table in one huge great bowl. There’s nothing more satisfying than a table full of friends passing a groaning dish of summery greenness around the table. It feels so generous and convivial.

I also love food which manages to be both hearty and summery at the same time. Chicken meatballs are homely and cheerful – filling in a farmer’s wife kind of way. Whilst the great gluts of herbs and beans in the sauce make it feel like you’ve plucked that light green shade of June straight out of the veg patch and popped it on the plate. If you can lay your hands on a bunch of cow parsley, your table will be complete.

So, to the recipe. You can serve this with good crusty farmhouse bread for mopping. Hasselback potatoes are great too. It needs something with a bit of crunch.

Next time (and I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a bit because I’m going a way for a week or two), the dessert course – fig leaf pannacotta…

Summery chicken meatballs

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 6

Summery chicken meatballs

A filling but summery main course of chicken meatballs with a hearty buttery sauce, broad beans, peas and spinach.

    For the meatballs:
  • 800g minced chicken
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 25g breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Big handful of herbs (parsley, chervil, mint, dill, chives – anything leafy and green)
  • Light olive or sunflower oil for frying
  • For the sauce:
  • 40g butter
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Large glass of white wine
  • 750g of any combination of broad beans (podded), peas and spinach
  • Another big handful of herbs (as above), chopped
  1. For the meatballs, mix the chicken, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and egg in a large bowl. Finely chop the herbs and add them too together with some salt and pepper (be generous). Mix everything together really thoroughly – I find hands are best. Check the seasoning by frying a little of the mixture in a pan and tasting then adjust the seasoning according – nothing worse than a bland meatball.
  2. Shape the meatballs into walnut-sized balls. In a frying pan, heat a slug of oil then fry the meatballs until they are well-browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. You may need to do this in batches as overcrowding the pan will mean the meatballs don’t brown very well. Keep the meatballs warm in the oven whilst you get on with the rest of the sauce (If you can multi-task, make the sauce whilst the meatballs are browning.)
  3. Melt the butter in a large casserole dish then, once sizzling, add the sliced onions and cook gently for 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the garlic cook for another 3-5 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown.
  4. Turn the heat up, add the wine and allow it to come to the boil. Add the broad beans, peas and spinach and continue to simmer for 5 minutes until the alcohol has burnt off and the greens are just cooked through.
  5. Removed the meatballs from the warm oven (or frying pan if you’ve done it all at once) and add them to the casserole dish. Add the final handful of herbs, give everything a stir, check the seasoning then serve immediately.
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