Meatballs with black kale and pearled barley

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Meatballs with black kale and pearled barley

Main Serves 6 1h 20 min
This recipe calls for a few preparatory steps, but they're easy to follow and the result is a glorious, warming pot of spiced beef meatballs nestled amongst toothsome, tomatoey pearl barley and greens. Cavalo (black kale) can be replaced by any other greens you have in your veg box.


  • 3 onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • olive oil
  • 2 white pitta bread, broken into pieces and soaked in milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch ground pepper
  • pinch chilli
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 500g beef mince
  • 250g pearled barley or spelt
  • 300g cavolo nero, any kale or purple sprouting broccoli
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 300ml passata
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped


Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 1h
  • Step 1

    First make the meatballs. Sauté the onion and garlic until it is beginning to soften. Squeeze any excess milk out of the pitta bread and blitz quickly in a food processor.
  • Step 2

    Add the salt, pepper, chilli, cumin and a third of the onion/ garlic mixture and pulse briefly. Add the beef mince and pulse a few times until it looks well mixed. Don't over blend, as this can make it go rubbery. Form into balls about 3cm in diameter.
  • Step 3

    Boil the pearled barley in plenty of water until nearly al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain.
  • Step 4

    Cut the kale or PSB into pieces 6-8cm long and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.
  • Step 5

    Heat a large ovenproof frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil and quickly brown the meatballs. It doesn't matter if they break up a bit.
  • Step 6

    Add the rest of the onions and garlic, the cooked pearled barley, kale, stock and pasata and mix together the best you can.
  • Step 7

    Cover with a lid (if you have one that fits), plate or foil, and cook gently for 30 minutes.
  • Step 8

    Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6, remove the lid and sprinkle the breadcrumbs, parsley and Parmesan over the top.
  • Step 9

    Tamp down with the back of a wooden spoon and bake in the oven until it begins to brown on top.

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