Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London

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Lo-Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Another starve day, another recipe from The Fast Diet Recipe book. And the more recipes I try from this book (available to buy here), the more impressed I am. And thankfully the 5:2 diet is starting to show results now – not really on the scales, but definitely on my waist line. I found some old jeans last week that I put on in a rush that fit perfectly – and all day I actually thought they were my ‘fat’ jeans. Turns out they are the ones I bought when I lost weight last year and have been a little snug since…until now! So there you are, a little ‘win’ in the Reidbury Kitchen!

So the recipe is Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero and all I can comment on is the end taste…because, for once, I didn’t cook. The boy did! And he did so without causing himself, or anyone else, any damage which suggests that the recipe was relatively straightforward. Anyway, the taste – oooooh it was good! There’s something about meatballs that feels like a treat, and not diet food anyway. But this recipe was  full of flavour and really didn’t feel like a skinny option in any way. And I didn’t even miss the carbs – the cavolo nero was hearty enough that it worked nicely as a substitute.

I would definitely recommend using cavolo nero if you can find it (rather than another cabbagey type thing) because the texture and flavour are both quite robust and blend well with the sauce. But if you cant get it, then cabbage or kale would work OK.

I’m actually planning on doing this recipe again – even if it’s not a starve day!

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Calorie Count: 264 per person

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero (serves 2)


For the meatballs:

  • 200g lean pork mince (or turkey mince)
  • Half a medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for spraying

For the tomato sauce:

  • Oil for spraying
  • Half a medium red onion, chopped
  • Half a garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 50g fresh tomatoes, skinned and deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 200ml water
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

For the cavolo nero:

  • 200g cavolo nero, steamed
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Sea salt


Place the mince in the bowl with the onion, garlic, carrot, oregano, egg and salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into 12 small meatballs.

Spray a large pan with oil and fry over a medium heat until gently browned (around 4 mins) and set aside.

For the sauce, spray the same pan with oil and fry the onion until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes (tinned and fresh), puree, sugar and water along with the chilli flakes and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Simmer til reduced and glossy.

Add the meatballs and oregano, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with the steamed cavolo nero, dressed with a light squeeze of lemon and a scatter of flaked sea salt.

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Chilli Beef Meatballs in Warm Pittas

Beef Chilli Meatballs in Warm Pittas

Beef Chilli Meatballs in Warm Pittas

One of the other challenges in cooking healthy food is keeping a very meat-loving boyfriend happy too! So last weekend I decided to try and find a happy compromise – hello Chilli Beef Meatballs in Warm PittasThere’s beef, there’s chilli, there’s bread. Although I have to admit, there wasn’t a huge volume of any of those items! These portion sizes are teeny weeny, and it’s quite panic-inducing when you see just how small the meatballs are. You make 6 out of 125g of beef so they’re proper wee. But somehow when you add the bread and salsa it isn’t too shabby for a lunch at all. Unfortunately because one of these pittas is 8 Weight Watchers Pro Points I couldn’t really do my usual trick and double up the portion size. But I would do that for Paul in the future – he said that if there were two pittas each he’d have upped his score to 9! Greedy bugger.

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 8/10. Weight Watchers Pro Points: 8 per serving

Chilli Beef Meatballs in Warm Pittas (serves 2)


  • 125g lean beef mince (10% fat)
  • Half small onion, finely chopped
  • 5g Medium Fajita seasoning
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or parsley
  • 5 sprays calorie controlled cooking spray
  • 1 tbsp Sweet Chilli sauce
  • Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium pittas, white or wholemeal
  • Handful of spinach, to serve

For the red onion salsa:

  • Half a small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar


Mix together the beef mince, onion, fajita spice mix and the thyme or parsley. Season and then form the mixture into 6 evenly-sized balls.

Spray a non stick frying pan with cooking spray and add the meatballs. Cook for 12-14 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the sweet chilli sauce and cook for another minute, turning the meatballs over until glossy.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the salsa by combining all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Warm the pitta breads in a toaster or under the grill. Split open and then fill each one with a few spinach leaves, 3 meatballs and the salsa.

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Another Sofa Supper – Italian Meatball Melts

Italian Meatball Melts, Olive Magazine (Olive Magazine, April 2013)

Italian Meatball Melts,  (Olive Magazine, April 2013)

Yesterday Paul and I did our massive monthly food shop and, being a Project Manager, I tend to go about this trip like a military operation! I read through all my magazines and recipe books, coming up with a list of dishes to try that month. I then write out my shopping list. And then I write my list out again so it’s in aisle order…Paul tends to despair. Actually, I’d say that 90% of our arguments (and we don’t have many) take place within the four walls of a supermarket. It just powerfully highlights the differences between us – I turn into some kind of super-organised maniac, Paul runs off and hides by the biscuits.

Anyway, as I was flicking through this month’s Olive Magazine (April 2013) Paul happened to spot a recipe called Italian Meatball Melts and pretty much demanded we have it. Given we were having a relaxed weekend and watching the 6 Nations at home I thought it’d be a good Saturday Night Sofa Supper. It’s not something I would’ve chosen, but sometimes those are the best things to cook. Anyway, it was a great success. My only two complaints with the recipe were:

1. It said it’d take 30 minutes, but it took longer

2. There is no kitchen task more miserable than grating an onion

Having said that though, the recipe was well worth the effort and I served it with homemade potato wedges.

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 9/10 (apparently if I’d given him 2 melts then this would’ve been a 10…)

Italian Meatball Melts (serves 2)


  • 300g total of minced beef & minced pork (using the two meats really does make the meatballs juicier)
  • Half a small onion, grated
  • Half a clove of garlic, crushed (the other half gets used in the sauce. See below)
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil, plus leaves to serve
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, halved and toasted
  • 2 handfuls rocket (or similar salad leaves) to serve

For the tomato sauce:

  • Half a clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 200g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar


Put the first five ingredients into a bowl. Season really heavily and mix together with your hands. Form into 8 meatballs. Fry in a large pan until browned all over.

To make the sauce, sizzle the sliced garlic in a little olive oil and then top in the chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes and sugar. Simmer until thickened.

Stir the meatballs into the sauce with the chopped basil and simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve, pile rocket and meatballs onto the ciabatta bottoms and top with a layer of grated mozzarella. Flash under a grill to melt the cheese then add a few more basil leaves, put the tops on and serve.

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A Bad Case of the Meatballs

I was really excited to try out my latest recipe (from Delicious Magazine, March 2013) – Sausage and Chickpea Meatballs with Feta. I had such high hopes for warming comfort food on a Sunday evening. But this meal elicited a lot of expletives in the Reidbury kitchen. I’m not really sure how much I’m to blame for the mess I ended up serving, or whether the recipe itself has a lot to answer for. But whilst the flavours of this dish still ended up being decent, the meatballs were an unmitigated disaster. They had absolutely no substance to them and just collapsed into some kind of puréed mess into the sauce. In fact they fought me every inch of the way. There’s no way I’d cook this again, but I do think experience taught me a few lessons that if I were to try this in the future:

  • My food processor is not the best and sort of over-processes the bottom half of the ingredients, whilst the top half remain untouched by the blades! So by the time all the ingredients (including the meat, feta and chickpeas) were properly blended, the meat was puréed rather than ‘mixed’
  • I would chill the meatballs for a lot longer than the stated 15 minutes
  • I would not use my Le Creuset buffet pan to fry the meatballs. The bloody things just stuck to the pan and then started to collapse. Non-stick is the way forward…
  • The recipe itself suggested that as an alternative to using a food processor to blend the ingredients, you can use a potato masher to ‘hand blend’. But then they also stated that you should use an egg to bind the meatballs with this method. There definitely needed to be some kind of binding ingredient even if you followed the food processor route.

So here’s the recipe for you  in case you can learn from my failings… Humph. (Notice there isn’t a picture of this dish. I couldn’t bear taking a photo)

KB rating 3/10. PR rating 5/10


  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 free-range pork sausages, skins removed
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 25g flatleaf parsley, chopped


Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor with the sausagemeat, feta and garlic until just combined. Season with black pepper and a little salt, then shape into walnut-size balls. Chill in the fridge for 15 mins.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then brown the meatballs in batches until golden all over (or in my case, watch them stick to the pan and then disintegrate when you get within 2 yards of them). Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, then pour in the stock and bubble for 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and simmer for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Serve scattered with parsley. (I served with couscous, but this would be nice with pasta too)