Island Dish – Turkey Meatballs & Black Bean Ragout

by Jordan Caldwell, Training by Tara Brunet – 

Finally, summer has arrived in Sidney. Warm mornings, sun shining during walks down by the breakwater, and cool summer winds that breeze through late-night patio conversations. Everything about summer has that great positive vibe to it. Colours are brighter, and oddly enough water even tastes colder and more refreshing!

July is right in the peak of patio season. Family and friends gather outside to play or suntan on the lawn. You could close your eyes and imagine you’re on a beach in Mexico, with a cerveza in hand, and it would seem like reality. Despite Mexico being a great distance away, we can still bring the flavours of Mexican cuisine into our kitchen. A great way to make your next family gathering more authentic would be to bring this excellent ragout and dazzle them all!

We are using the flavours of juicy tomatoes, smooth avocados and tart limes that will make your food – and your drinks – a Mexican escape!

The dish this month can be enjoyed heated or chilled, and is a great example of how flavours and spices can be enjoyed either way. It’s perfect for a cold rainy day, or a hot summery one!

Please note: the recipe calls for cilantro stalks. Not many people like to use the stalks of herbs such as parsley, cilantro or dill. Did you know they actually have a lot more of the fragrance than the leaves? If I could add in one tip for this month, it’s to use cilantro stalks in your cuisine! Just dice them up finely and use them in a fresh salsa, fajita or burrito bowl. You will be thanking me later! Just remember to give the stalks a good wash before use.

Turkey Meatballs and Black Bean Ragout (serves 4)

1 red onion, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 yellow pepper, quartered, deseeded and diced
1 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tsp chipotle paste (to taste)
300ml chicken stock
400g cherry tomatoes (on the vine is best)
400g black beans
1 avocado, stoned, peeled and chopped
½ lime, juiced

500g ground turkey
50g panko crumbs
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
⅛ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tsp oil

First, douse the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and place in the oven under the broil setting (about 525°) and roast for 7-8 minutes. Remove from vine and reserve to the side.

For the meatballs: put ground turkey, panko, shallots and cilantro into a bowl. Lightly knead the ingredients together until well mixed. Shape into 12 “ping pong” sized balls. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add meatballs and cook, turning them frequently, until golden. Remove from pan.

Add the onion and garlic into the pan with the yellow pepper and cook until soft. Stir in the cumin and chili paste, then pour in the stock. Return the meatballs to the pan and cook, covered over a low heat, for 10 minutes. Stir in cherry tomatoes and beans, cook, uncovered, for 5 more minutes or until liquid has reduced by a quarter. Toss the avocado chunks in the lime juice. Serve with the meatballs topped with the avocado and cilantro leaves.

Did you prefer the dish heated or chilled? I prefer chilled!

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