Riverford Wicked Leeks
Meatballs with black kale and pearled barley recipe image

Print Meatballs with black kale and pearled barley

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.


Beef recipes  


  • 3 onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 white pitta bread, broken into pieces & 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


  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.
  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.
  3. Boil the pearled barley in plenty of water until nearly al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain.
  4. Cut the kale or PSB into pieces 6-8cm long and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.
  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.
  6. Add the rest of the onions and garlic, the cooked pearled barley, kale, stock and pasata and mix together the best you can.
  7. Cover with a lid (if you have one that fits), plate or foil, and cook gently for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6, remove the lid and sprinkle the breadcrumbs, parsley and Parmesan over the top.
  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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