Herby meatballs with orzo pasta

Spaghetti and meatballs is a guaranteed family favourite, for a healthier dinner serve the low calorie meatballs with orzo for a truly Italian feast.


  • 500g lean beef mince
  • ½tsp chilli flakes
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 4tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley or coriander
  • 2tsp dried oregano
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 200g orzo
  • 4tbsp ricotta


  1. Put the mince, chilli flakes, lemon zest and half the fresh and dried herbs in a medium bowl and season with black pepper. Wet your hands, then combine the ingredients. Shape rounded teaspoons of the mixture into 28–32 small balls (if making ahead, freeze the meatballs in a freezerproof container at this stage, then thaw thoroughly before continuing).
  2. Spray a large, deep, non-stick frying pan with oil and set over a medium-high heat. Add the meatballs (in batches, if necessary) and cook for 5–6 min, turning, until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Re-spray the pan with oil, then cook the onion and garlic for 5 min or until soft. Add the remaining dried oregano with the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for 1 min. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  4. Return all the meatballs to the frying pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10–15 min until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in unsalted water according to the pack instructions, then drain and divide among 4 bowls. Spoon over the meatballs and sauce, top with a dollop of ricotta, then scatter over the remaining parsley or coriander and some ground black pepper. Toss the salad leaves with the vinegar, then serve alongside.

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