I’ve been loving olives these last few weeks, especially the bright green Sicilian ones from the fridge section at Aldi. They’re not too salty and have just the right amount of olive taste to them. I always have a tub in the fridge and they’re dangerously addictive so when I stumbled across this recipe in Donna Hay’s “simple dinners” that featured exactly these olives I knew what we’d have for dinner tonight.
The vibrant colours of the fresh basil, the bright green olives and the delicious cherry tomatoes looked gorgeous on a plate. The addition of pesto to the meatball mixture was a clever and very tasty shortcut to adding lots of flavour!
It wasn’t the quickest of all dinners but it didn’t require too many ingredients, which definitely makes up for the extra prep time. The most time consuming parts were probably the meatball shaping and the de-seeding of the cherry tomatoes. All up the dish took me a little over an hour to make and it was super delicious.
Tomato, Olive and Mozzarella Meatballs
2 cups (140g) fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
750g beef mince
1/3 cup (90g) store-bought basil pesto
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
a pinch of salt and cracked pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
500g cherry tomatoes, seeds removed
1/4 cup small oregano sprigs
1 cup (150g) green Sicilian olives
200g baby bocconcini
1 cup basil leaves and crusty bread to serve
Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl, pour over the milk and stand until the milk has absorbed. Place the mince, pesto, breadcrumb mixture, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. I used my trusty Kitchenaid to beat the mixture with the spatula for 2 minutes until smooth. Roll 1/4 cupfuls of the mixture into meatballs.
Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs in batches for about 2 minutes each side or until golden, but not cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a baking dish with the cherry tomatoes, oregano, olives and bocconcini. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bocconcini are melted and the meatballs are cooked through. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices. I imagine this would also be super delicious with some polenta or crushed potatoes.