Great news! My publishers have given me permission to share several recipes, photos and tips from my soon-to-be-released book! The Hands-on Home is now so close to launch that it’s time to start promotion – which means giving you guys a little taste of what’s inside the book.
These herby, peanuty pork meatballs are one of my favorite options for a light meal. They have a refreshing Thai-ish vibe going on, but – they’re meatballs. Easy peasy, and a kid-favorite.
Like all the food I really love, this recipe is versatile enough to accommodate what’s growing in your garden right now. Play around with the herbs. Add additional vegetables. Steam a pot of rice to serve on the side if you want. If you can’t have peanuts, substitute in a different nut or seed, or leave them out entirely. If you don’t eat pork, try these with ground chicken, turkey or even lamb.
Green Herb & Peanut Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Cups
Over ten years ago, I planted a little four-inch pot of adorable lemon balm in a moist, partially sunny location in my garden. It grew rapidly into a patch of lemon balm that threatened to overtake my garden.
Beyond drying the leaf for tea, I was at a bit of a loss for how to use it all up and how to contain the herbal monster I had created. It took a few years, but eventually I realized that lemon balm is great as a temperate-climate substitute for the lemongrass used throughout Southeast Asian cooking. Now I keep my patch of lemon balm in check using recipes like these Thai-inspired meatballs.
My lemon balm is at its most fresh and lovely in the spring, when the lettuce, mint, and first cilantro of the season are just getting large enough to harvest. Later in the year, I use lemon verbena. Either of these lemony herbs work well here.
- ¼ medium white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup unsalted peanuts
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh lemon balm or lemon verbena
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh mint
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 pound ground pork
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Asian-style chili paste or pepper sauce
- 2 medium heads butterhead lettuce, separated into leaves
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- ½ cup sliced or shredded radishes
- 1 thinly sliced serrano or jalapeño pepper
- Additional fresh mint and cilantro
- Move an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the onion, garlic, peanuts, lemon balm, mint, cilantro, fish sauce, brown sugar, and chili sauce. Pulse until the mixture resembles a course paste, about the texture of pesto, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Scrape the herb mixture into a medium bowl, then add the pork and mix together until well combined.
- Use a 1-ounce portion scoop or your clean hands to form the pork mixture into meatballs about the size of golf balls. Evenly space the meatballs on the sheet pan and bake until the meatballs are cooked through and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, add the lime juice, water, fish sauce, and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add a bit of chili paste or Asian-style hot chili sauce if you like a bit of spice. Set aside.
- Set out the lettuce, carrot, radishes, serrano, and herbs on a tray or large plate.
- When the meatballs are fully cooked, transfer them to a serving plate. Let everyone assemble their own wraps with several leaves of butterhead lettuce, a scattering of fresh vegetables and herbs, a meatball or two, and a drizzle of sauce.
Stuff I’ve learned: For every pre-order of my book Amazon.com recieves, they order 3 copies of the book to have in stock. The more of that inventory they have on-hand, the more likely their algorithm is to promote the book. Bottom line: if you know you want a copy of The Hands-on Home, your pre-order now is literally triple helpful. Thank you!
Hillarious legal stuff: (c)2015 by Erica Strauss. All rights reserved. Excerpted from The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving, and Natural Homekeeping by permission of Sasquatch Books. Photography by the charming, lovely and uber-talented Charity Burggraaf.