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Venison Meatballs with Spinach in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

This is easily adapted if you prefer to use beef meatballs: I use venison when I can because it is lower in fat and high in Omega oil, and more easily digested by most people compared to beef. Depending on how many you are feeding it’s easy to increase the quantities. Freezes well if made in advance. Serves 2 – 4

Ingredients:

  • 500gm minced venison
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tbsp fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp harissa paste (optional)
  • 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • squeeze of lemon

Method:

  • Put the meat in a bowl and season well with salt, pepper and the thyme leaves using your hands to mix well.
  • Roll a 50g portion of the mince between your palms into a ball. Set on a plate and repeat with the rest of the mince. You should end up with 10 meatballs the size of a golf ball.
  • Heat half a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and cook the meatballs on a medium heat to brown the outside. When they are brown all over but still raw on the middle, set them aside on a plate.
  • In the same pan, add another half a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in the spinach. Cook for a minute until it has wilted and season with a pinch of salt.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and harissa paste and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and add the meatballs and another pinch of salt.
  • Cover the pan with a loose lid or scrunched up tin foil and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Just before you turn the heat off, add the grated parmesan and cook for a further minute to melt the cheese.
  • Serve drizzled with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Goes well with cooked pasta or a bed of couscous, or a toasted ciabatta rubbed with the cut side of a garlic clove and a drizzle of olive oil if you are cooking for the 500!

Tomatoes are a major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are great sources of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K. The vitamin A helps maintain vision and is one of the best foods to help prevent poor night vision. They are a valuable source of chromium to help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels under control. Tomatoes contain coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid that work to protect the body from carcinogens that are produced from cigarette smoke. The redder the tomato the more beta-carotene it contains.

Phew! All from a humble tomato! Two other points are the high vitamin C content will be destroyed with cooking but only when it is cooked will the lycopene be made readily available and this form is of especial note to men for prostate protection. The message is eat them cooked and raw regularly.