Pawing through the kitchen cupboards last night, I wondered how I'd expected to feed my visiting parents. I'd missed the farmers' market, boycotted the grocery store, and sat staring at a fridge filled with bygone leftovers and half-eaten containers of sauces and meats. The clock ticked past seven; things were looking grim.
I went out to the garden to see what help it might have to offer: three large, red tomatoes, and a basket of cherry sungolds. The cupboard wasn't much better with only a jar of dried pasta. But between the tomatoes and the pasta, an idea was born. I dug a package of thawed ground lamb from the fridge, along with a few scallions, a half jar of homemade tomato sauce, a carton of eggs, and a wedge of soft cheese made from raw cows' milk.
Suddenly, we had the makings for spaghetti and meatballs. My father set to work chopping scallions and tomatoes. I cracked eggs and sprinkled cumin, rolling lamb between my palms into soft tan balls. The pan sizzled hot, and the kitchen windows began to steam up with the aroma of Barnstable meatballs.
New tomatoes were mixed with old sauce, pasta boiled aldente, and cheese grated. By the time the lamb was cooked through, a dish sat heaping with noodles and red fruit. We arranged them carefully on top, while grated cheese melted hot, slipping through the cracks.
One bite proved the evening well-saved from disaster.
Makes about 12 meatballs
Place 1 pound fresh or thawed ground lamb in a mixing bowl. Chop 3 scallions, and add to the mix. Crack 2 eggs over the bowl and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add bread crumbs to soak up excess moisture. Stir well and pack by hand into 12 round balls. Cook over medium high heat until outside is browned but inside remains tender and juicy, taking care to turn frequently. Serve hot over pasta, with or without red sauce.