Mini Ricotta Meatballs over Lemon Rice and Peas is a family friendly dinner that will please big and little kids alike. It's one of our 20 minute meal ideas, made from scratch, that you can serve family style!
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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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More 20 Minute Meal Ideas
- Breakfast (for Dinner) Board: Eggs and Toast
- Coconut and Bean Soup with Crostini Bar
- Thai Nachos with Crispy Pork
Or check out our entire 20 Minute Meal gallery for more ideas!
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Lisa Bolton is food stylist, recipe developer and creator of beautiful food boards. You can find her work at lisadawnbolton.com. She lives in the Lower Mainland of BC. Her first cookbook, On Boards, (affiliate link) by Appetite by Penguin Random House is available in stores and online now! You can reach her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.