ORZO & MEATBALLS IN A TOMATO, OLIVE & SPINACH SAUCE

If you're a fan of spaghetti and meatballs (and really who isn't?) then I can bet that you will be a fan of this recipe. This has all of the same flavour notes as spaghetti and meatballs, but it is the addition of olives and spinach that make this dish different. The olives add a nice salty briny bite to the dish without being overpowering. This is a beautiful easy weeknight dish that you can serve to the whole family. I think that even your kids will eat the spinach in this recipe.

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp vegetable blend seasoning
  • pinch of crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water or stock
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olives, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small bag of spinach
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked orzo
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (to serve)

1. Take the ground beef and make 1 inch sized meatballs, then place them onto a plate until you're ready to use. Preheat a medium sized shallow pot, on medium heat. Drizzle 3 tbsps of oil, then add in the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, dried basil, veggie seasoning, and the red chili flakes. Saute the ingredients for about 3 minutes.

2. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add in the can of crushed tomatoes, water, balsamic vinegar and the olives. Give it a good stir to mix the sauce through, then place in the prepared meatballs to start cooking through. Let it cook for a good 8-10 minutes with lid on. The meatballs should be cook through at this point.

3. Add in the chopped yellow bell pepper, and the whole bag of spinach. Don't worry the spinach will wilt down in no time at all. Let it cook for 2 minutes or so. Make sure to stir occassionally.

4. Once the sauce has thickened and the spinach and yellow pepper have cooked down a bit, add in the cooked orzo. Once the orzo is covered in the sauce turn the heat off and serve immediately. Sprinkle a generous amount of Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Cook's Suggestion: You can use another small shaped pasta like macaroni if you like to substitute.

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