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CASA owner Maria Broadbent says an environmentally friendly meal is easily within our grasp

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My guess is, no-one starts to get a meal ready with the main thought of ‘How can I be environmentally friendly?’. In fact, I sincerely hope if you’re reading this page you care mostly about how your meal tastes. Fortunately, the two ideals are not mutually exclusive – it can be good for your tastebuds and kind to the planet simultaneously.

So, this week I am going to give you a simple, tasty and versatile recipe – meatballs or veggie balls – plus lots of simple hints and tips on saving money, time and doing your bit to save the world, too. With the massive bonus of feeding yourself, family and friends with a delicious dinner into the bargain.

Let’s start with the shopping

Always check your cupboards before heading out shopping as we regularly re-buy what we already have.

Write a list – even better, stick to it!

Plan what to do with leftover ingredients – do you need to add anything else to your list to use the rest of, let’s say, a pepper or an onion?

Try to buy the right amount of ingredient (avoid multi buys) – local shops and markets are best for this.

Prepping the recipe

Don’t put the oven on until shortly before you need it (you will know how long it takes to heat up).

Check you have everything you need before you start.

Is your knife sharp (Any Sharp is a cracking sharpener at just £8 from WILKO) Believe it or not, it is much safer to use very sharp knives.

Check your scales have a battery!

Clear your work area – place a damp cloth or kitchen towel under board to stop it slipping

Check measuring spoons are clean and dry

Get steady – COOK!

Follow the recipe carefully

If you are forgetful or easily distracted, use a pencil to tick off the ingredients as you go

Where appropriate taste as you go along to check seasoning

Put remaining ingredients into tubs and label– put in fridge or freezer

Meatballs or Veggie Balls

Meatballs are a very flexible and easy to make dish. They have broad appeal and there are some great vegetarian/vegan alternatives out there too. You need minced meat – this can be turkey, pork, beef, lamb or sausagemeat – or any combination you fancy! I would also always recommend using breadcrumbs as this lightens the texture (it also bulks out the meat if you are on a budget or simply trying to eat less meat). You need a binding agent such as egg, although chia seeds make a good alternative. Plus, and very importantly, spices and herbs – this is where you can be truly creative.

Spanish style meatballs in tomatoe sauce (6881351)
Spanish style meatballs in tomatoe sauce (6881351)


For the meatballs:

250g mince beef

150g mince pork (or 2 large sausages, skinned)

2 cloves garlic – crushed

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Pinch of nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 egg beaten

25g breadcrumbs

Pinch of salt – to your taste/

health requirements

For the sauce:

1 medium onion

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ stock cube (I use beef – but use vegetable if making veggie balls)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

400g tin chopped tomatoes

½ tin water (use tomato tin)

To make the meatballs, combine all the ingredients thoroughly together – imagine it’s a stress ball!

If you want to check they taste OK first – make a ball, flatten it and gently fry.

Then roll into balls the size of walnuts in their shell.

Place them on a lined baking tray.

Place in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes.

Whilst they are cooking, make the sauce. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the onion is soft enough to blend. This should take about 10 minutes – if it starts to dry out, add more water.

Use a stick blender to blitz it to a fairly smooth texture.

Add the meatballs, then check the seasoning.

You can serve this with rice, pasta, noodles or bread – I like a green salad with it, too.


Replace tin foil (a challenge to recycle) with a re-suable Teflon sheet such as NoStik available at Steamer Trading, £4.50.

Take your own reusable tubs to the butchers and ask them to put your meat (or fish or cheese) straight into this for you to take home.

Use up crusts and older bread by making breadcrumbs and freezing.

Chop remaining herbs not used and freeze in a bag or little tub.

Weigh/measure rice or pasta before cooking – if you really do too much then try these ideas:

Rice – freeze in individual portions (much cheaper than buying sachets!

Pasta – run excess cooked pasta under the cold tap to stop it going too soft – add to a soup or make a salad with it.

Noodles – add to a soup or a stir-fry.

Maria Broadbent is owner of Mediterranean restaurant CASA in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Tel 01284 701313.



Debbie Rodman | Editor Culture | Iliffe Publishing Ltd

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