From the kitchen: pork, pumpkin and sage meatballs

One thing we like in this house is meatballs. Julia Turshen’s wonderful turkey meatballs are a firm favourite and Ottolenghi’s lamb and feta ones, slathered in pomegranate molasses, also appear often on our table. While we rarely nowadays have the classic Swedish köttbullar (traditionally served with creamy brown gravy and lingonberries) except on the Christmas table, they are also ones we enjoy.

I had long considered making these pork, pumpkin and sage meatballs from Steffi Knowles-Dellner’s Lagom, a cook book I have featured more than once on this blog (eg parsnip and lemon loaf cake, seeded apple bread), so with time on my hands this Wednesday, I decided to give them a go. I used butternut squash for the pumpkin, so very much in keeping with the start of autumn, and picked few fresh sage leaves from the garden.

The recipe calls for a mix of grated pumpkin, red onion and apple, mixed with sage, lemon rind, seasoning and pork mince. Flour is added at the end as otherwise the mixture would be extremely wet as you can imagine with all those grated vegetables.

The meatballs are baked at 200C for 20-25 minutes, shaking every now and again just to make sure they are browned all over. Below you can see them before they went into the oven and after they came out (also in the featured image at the top of the post).

I served these with tagliatelle and.stirred through the lemon cream sauce as suggested (basically crème fraîche with lemon juice and rind and seasoning – I missed out the raw garlic as it doesn’t agree with me). I also served steamed leafy greens with it (chard in this case) as recommended.

Verdict: Excellent – would definitely make again but you do need a bit of prep time. I made mine early afternoon and cooked them for dinner, which gave the mixture time to cool as well. The greens definitely go well, adding a slight bitterness to the sweet, creamy and tart meatballs and pasta.

Footnote: You only need about a quarter of the squash…so I roasted a second quarter with some other veggies for my Thursday and Friday’s lunch boxes to have with the leftover meatballs. I still have half a squash to use at the weekend….just keep that in mind when menu planning.

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis. If you want to get in touch, email me on or


  1. After Easter, by which time my son will have moved to Scotland, I am going to have to adjust to cooking for two. Your timely reminder about the butternut squash alerts me to this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We like meatballs, too, and as vegetarians, we have found that we can make some pretty tasty ones using a product called Beyond Beef. Raw garlic also bothers me, but I have found that if I dry roast the cloves in skillet on my stove top, then I don’t have as many problems. Takes the sharp edge off.

    Liked by 1 person

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