Meat ‘Diamonds’

Meat 'Diamonds'

Meat ‘Diamonds’

Earlier in the year I was talking to the other parents at the school bus stop about dinner (my favourite topic!).

One of the Dads was feeling guilty because he had bought some pre-prepared meat balls. He said he loves meatballs but all the touching and rolling was just too fiddly.

So when I came across a recipe for lamb kibbeh in David Tannis latest book, I realized I’d found the meatball solution!

Instead of rolling the mixture into individual balls, why not just press it into the base of a dish and cut it into diamonds (or squares).

All the deliciousness of meatballs without the mess!

Love it when a plan comes together.

These meat ‘diamonds’ sound much nicer than meat ‘squares’ don’t you think?

My mum would definitely approve given she was of the school of thought that small lumps of highly compressed carbon were a girl’s best friend’.

I should also give David Tannis credit for the idea of using the onions and pine nuts as a sauce.

Simple and a nice change from the knee-jerk meatball accompaniment of tomato based sauce.

Enough for: 3
Takes: 30 minutes
Net Carbs: 17g / serve

450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef or lamb
150g (5oz) almond meal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 small onions, peeled and sliced into half moon slices
2 tablespoons pine nuts, roasted
green salad or ‘best ever’ tabbouleh, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). In a medium bowl combine meat, almond meal and cumin with a few pinches salt until just mixed through. Line a rectangular or square oven proof dish or tin with baking paper (mine is 23x18cm / 9x7in) or grease well. Press the meat into the base of your dish. Using a sharp knife score on the diagonal to make little diamond shapes.

2. Bake for 20 minutes or until meat is well browned on top and no longer pink in the middle.

3. While the meat is cooking, heat a medium frying pan or saucepan on a medium heat. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil and cook sliced onion, covered for about 10 minutes or until onion is soft and golden brown. Stir every few minutes and if the onion is starting to burn, reduce the heat and add a little more oil and a splash of water.

4. When the meat is cooked, spread cooked onions over the top and sprinkle over pine nuts.

5. Chop ‘diamonds’ as you see fit and serve with salad / tabbouleh on the side.

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Variations & Substitutions

pantry-friendly – serve with steamed or pan fried frozen greens.

short on time – increase oven temp to 250C (480F) and reduce cooking time to 12-15 minutes. Skip the onion.

keto / ultra low carb – skip the onion.

vegetarian – serve the onion and pine nuts with scrambled eggs, fried eggs, cooked chickpeas and hummus or cooked lentils. Or try these parisian lentils.

nut-free – replace almond meal with extra meat or soft bread crumbs. Cooked grains like rice, barley or quinoa are an option if you don’t mind the carbs. Or just skip it.

more substantial (carb lovers) – wrap in warm pita or serve with roast or boiled spuds, couscous or cooked rice.

more substantial (low carb) – divide between two people or serve with a more substantial low carb vegetable dish like some Broccoli with Addictive Walnut Crumbs, Almond Bread or some Almond Hummus.

Low FODMAP – skip the onion or replace with lactose-free yoghurt or a tomato based sauce.

different vegetables – feel free to use any cooked veg instead of the onion. Grilled or roast peppers, eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgettes) or mushrooms would be my first choices.

different protein – any ground meat such as pork, chicken or turkey will also work.

different spice – add a few teaspoons Stonesoup spice (equal parts coriander, cumin and smoked paprika) or try coriander or paprika on their own. Spice blends like baharat or ras el hanout will be delicious too.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt. a squeeze of lemon or some hot sauce or chilli oil.

too dry – overcooked meat. Next time check earlier. For now serve with some mayo, hummus or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

no oven – just cook the meat mixture in a frying pan, stirring until well browned. Serve in bowls with the onion and pine nuts. This free form mixture is really lovely served on a bed of hummus or almond hummus.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

minced (ground) beef or lamb – freeze it.

almond meal / ground cumin / pine nuts – keep them in the pantry.

onion – will keep in the pantry for months. Best if in a dark corner in a brown paper bag.

salad leaves – are highly perishable. My first path would be to use them for another meal (salad for breakfast!) but if that isn’t possible you can pop them in the freezer. They will wilt down but can then be used anywhere you’d use wilted greens.

tabbouleh – will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Best to eat with another meal.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the pine nuts and salad separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, warm in the oven 200C / 400F for 10-15 minutes.

Meat 'Diamonds'-2
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  • I made this using ground chicken. It was pretty dry, maybe because chicken has less fat than beef. I thought it needed more flavor. I sprinkled this new spice I found called Taijin which has red pepper and lime in it.

    • Yes chicken is much leaner than beef so you’re right that would have caused the dryness. Chicken is also milder in flavour so not surprised it needed mre flavour – that spice blend sounds perfect!

      Excellent work Paul 🙂

      • ps. Next time if you want to use lean meat like chicken or turkey just add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the mixture.

    • Any roast nuts are good. Especially almonds Anne.

      Of you could just skip it – the pine nuts add a little flavour and some visuals but it would be fine without.

      Actually thinking about it some olives would be perfect. Or roast cherry tomatoes. Or grilled peppers.

      Always options!

    • Yes Rachel!

      In Australia I think our almond meal is the same as almond flour – either way the texture isn’t super important.


  • Loved this one! Meatballs are a favourite but oh so fussy to make, as is another favourite of mine – kibbeh in the middle eastern style. I combined your brilliant diamonds with a twist of my own – I split my meat mixture (with a little salt worked through first) in half; used half to line a Swiss roll tin, then scattered middle eastern Zatter spice mix across the meat together with pine nuts and finely chopped shallots. Then I used the other half of the meat to create a top layer, cut into diamonds and baked as you did. It got the family seal of approval both hot and cold. Great idea thank you!

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