Spicy Chilli-Beef Meatballs with Tomato Ragout, Steamed Romanesco & Manchego – low carb, fast & delicious!



Back home late from work? Well this dish is low-carb in a hurry! Having said that, there’s no compromise on flavour, and you still get that wonderful home-cooked taste and feel! So if it’s nurture you’re after; what could be more delicious than meatballs in a rich tomato sauce covered with cheese?? Few things, I’ll wager!

As is the case with all the recipes on this site, there’s no gluten involved, so those with allergies or gluten-intolerance can tuck in without issue. Because the levels of carbohydrate are incredibly low, type 1&2 diabetics need have no fears over blood-sugar spikes or insulin-matching. This is LCHF to the core, so ketogenic-dieters and paleo-fans are all welcome at the table! There’s plenty to go around!

When I say ‘spicy chilli-beef meatballs’, the chilli is predominantly included in the sauce. If you have more time however, you can add this to the meatball mix itself. I was up against the clock to get a meal on the table, so I took the short-cut. I leave it up to you which route you follow.

Start by making your sauce. Finely slice leek, shallots or onion and sauté these in olive-oil and butter until tender and translucent. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and a sprinkle of dried chilli-flakes (to taste). Cook for a minute, then pour on a centimetre’s depth of port, enjoying the ‘sigh’ as it hits the pan.

Wine is not great on a ketogenic-diet due to its relatively high sugar content. To avoid opening a bottle just for cooking, I keep two bottles in the cupboard – one of dry vermouth, to take the place of white wine; and another of port to serve as red. Neither of these suffer from being consumed over a long period of time, plus it makes things considerably cheaper in the long run.


Strain the liquid from half a can of tomatoes and add these to the pan, plus a little water to be getting on with. Why not simply use the tomato juice? Carbs. Crumble in a beef stock-cube and a teaspoon full of mixed, dried herbs. Simmer for 20 minutes until thick and glossy.

Meanwhile make your meatballs. Season your minced beef with a generous hand and sprinkle in half a teaspoon of hot-chilli-powder. You can use fresh chillies if you wish, but I was trying to cut down on labour so opted for the powder. You can also buy excelled ‘pre-formed’ fresh-meatballs from most supermarkets. If that is your chosen option, simply dust these with a light-coating of chilli-powder and cook in the same way.

Place your meatballs onto a baking-sheet and oven bake for 15 minutes until succulently brown and delicious!

While these are in the oven, detach the romanesco-florets from the stalk one by one, so that you preserve their fine structure. Bring a pan of water to the boil then add the florets respectfully into the water. After two minutes on the boil, drain and plunge into cold water to preserve the verdant green and texture. Once cool, tumble back into the pan and place into the oven for a final 5 minutes to heat through. You can simply serve this straight from the boil, but it always seems a shame if it loses its bright vibrancy. If you too are under time-constraints, I certainly wouldn’t judge you for taking the shortcut.

When all is ready, take the meatballs and romanesco from the oven and tumble these into your pre-warmed serving-dish. Pour your sauce liberally over the top and sprinkle with a shocking amount of grated cheese. I used manchego on account of its taste and texture; but parmesan or cheddar would equally put on a splendid show! Garnish with a final flurry of chopped herbs et voila! Dinner is served.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!



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