Welcome to the first installment of On Board in 20 by Lisa Bolton: a recipe series where we will share wholesome, family style meals you can prepare in about 20 minutes.  The recipes will always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we hope to bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and clean up for those busy weeknight meal times.

On Board in 20: Mini Ricotta Meatballs over Lemon Rice & Peas | Food Bloggers of Canada

 Mini Ricotta Meatballs over Lemon Rice & Peas

Having cooked my way through the genius Jamie Oliver’s  15 Minute Meals, I picked up so many fantastic tricks for moving meal time prep along at an accelerated pace. By far the tip I took away that I use most often – boil water in a kettle, not a pot. So much faster & easier. If I am cooking any type of grain or pasta it’s the first thing I turn on. I also consider any ground protein a lifesaver at meal times. Ground meats cook quickly, form any shape or size & can absorb any global spice palate.

On Board in 20: Mini Ricotta Meatballs over Lemon Rice & Peas | Food Bloggers of Canada

There is an appetizing contrast of textures and colours in this satisfying family board, which has now become a staple at our table. The meatballs have a golden brown crust encompassing a very moist and rich centre thanks to the ricotta cheese. The smoked paprika, dark balsamic & tomato paste give the sauce an earthy taste and colour that normally takes hours to develop. To keep the meal appealing to all audiences, I left out any element of heat, but a minced jalapeno or some dried chili flakes would kick this sauce up a notch nicely.


On Board in 20: Mini Ricotta Meatballs over Lemon Rice & Peas | Food Bloggers of Canada

On Board in 20: Mini Ricotta Meatballs over Lemon Rice & Peas
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 4 servings
Lemon Rice with Peas
  • 1.5 cups of white basmati rice
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500 grams lean ground beef
  • ⅓ cup ricotta
  • 1 ½ cups strained tomatoes (passata)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave or honey
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
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  • 2 -3 cups of arugula
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 oz. feta cheese
  • Small bunch parsley
  1. Start a kettle boiling with 3 cups of water. Rinse rice and soak until kettle boils. Once boiling, add water, rice and ½ lemon to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or as per package directions. When rice has less than five minutes remaining, add peas, stir and return lid.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium – high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. While pan is heating, mix the ground beef in a bowl with salt, pepper and ricotta cheese. Divide meat into half, then each half in half again. Make four small meatballs from each portion (total of 16 meatballs) Wet hands work best for a smooth meatball consistency. Drop the meatballs into the hot pan, tossing regularly until golden brown.
  3. Once meatballs are browned (about five minutes) add passata, paste, vinegar, honey, smoke paprika, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium, toss to coat meatballs and let simmer.
  4. To prepare salad, put arugula in large bowl. Using a spiralizer (or even just a peeler) peel washed carrots and put on top of arugula. Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, toss lightly with your hands to coat.
  5. To serve: On a large serving board, put down rice still in the pot, layer out of the salad in between and bring meatballs over from stove. Sprinkle the rice & meatballs with parsley. Sprinkle the salad and meatballs with feta and add the seeds to the salad. Served with remaining ½ lemon.


Lisa Bolton is the creator, writer and photographer behind Food Well Said, her blog about bringing thoughtfully prepared, whole food recipes. She lives in the Lower Mainland of BC and you can reach her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

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