Have I been chopped? Speck, Pea Shoots and Marsala Meatballs

Speck and pea shoot meatballs

Don’t you get tired to always cook the same dishes? During the last years, I have mastered some recipes that have become my signature dishes. I always have the essential ingredients for them in my refrigerator and I can cook them with my eyes closed. And, of course, I always shoot for one of those dishes for a weeknight meal.

Unfortunately, Her Majesty does not always agree upon my… menu choices. She is starting going through that phase where changes are exciting and routines are boring and she always wants to experiment something new. So, to put an end to her complaints, I decided to change my basic meatball recipe and give it a twist.

The version that I cooked for Her Majesty did not have any Marsala. Nonetheless, her critique was quite brutal. She told me that the taste was not that great and that the meatballs were… kind of chewy! Seriously!!! Not the feedback that I was expecting!

Since I thought that this dish was quite delicious, I decided not to give up and to test the other “mouth” of the house. My beloved husband is never eager to pay me a compliment. He says that he does not sugarcoat his comments for my own sake so that I keep pushing myself striving to always get better at what I do. Lucky me!!! 😉

Anyway, instead of crucifying me like her Majesty, the oracle’s response was positive and flattering so I will keep making these meatballs for me and Stefano over and over. Who knows? Changing her mind is a girl’s prerogative. Maybe Her Majesty will learn to appreciate this recipe when she gets older. At least, that’s what happened to me with some of my family’s recipes.

Speck and pea shoot meatballs


1 lb, Ground Meat of your choice
1 slice, Speck (¼ inch thick)
2 eggs
6 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
2 slices, White Bread
2 Tbsp, Milk
Some leaves of Pea Shoots, chopped
3 Tbsp, Flour
2 Tbsp, Extravirgin Olive Oil
1 and 1/2 Tbsp, butter
Juice, half lemon
2 Tbsp, Marsala wine
Ground black pepper


Speck and pea shoot meatballsCut the speck into cubes and set aside.

In a bowl, pour the milk and soak the bread into the milk.

In a large mixing bowl, using your hands combine the ground beef, the eggs, the chopped pea shoots’ leaves, the speck cubes and the Parmesan cheese. With your hands, squeeze the bread and add it to the meat mixture. Add some salt and pepper (to taste) and combine with your hands. Shape the mixture into meatballs.

In a large non-stick skillet, pour the olive oil and add 1 Tbsp of butter. When the butter is completely melted, add the meatballs and cook them until they brown. Add the lemon juice and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour the Marsala wine and keep cooking until the Marsala evaporates. Remove from the stove and add 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Toss to coat until the butter is completely melted. Serve immediately.

Have a wonderful weekend!

F. Xx

PS: In case you are wondering what Pea Shoots are, they are the young leaves and tendrils of pea plants. I didn’t even know they existed before using them for this recipe. They are delicious and their scent is so delicate. The perfect addition to many, many dishes. 😋

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0 thoughts on “Have I been chopped? Speck, Pea Shoots and Marsala Meatballs

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, Karen! Hope you are doing a little bit better and focusing on your upcoming exciting move. I bet you are looking forward to saying goodbye to this horrid weather!

      1. Karen

        I appreciate your sweet thoughts, thank you. We are heading to Vero Beach tomorrow for some inspections on the new house. You are so right…the snow and cold has been horrible.

  1. Coffee and Crumpets

    It’s nice to have you back Francesca. I don’t know why I didn’t get this post in my inbox. I read your wine post, but I am not a drinker so as interesting as your insight was, I can’t really comment! Now, meatballs, they’re a different story…these know 😉
    Kids though, so difficult to please. I’ve been fortunate enough where I started my kids off on Indian food so everything else after was a lot easier to handle!! I do have a vegetarian though, and one who doesn’t like bananas and tomatoes, yes I know. But my philosophy was always, this is what’s for dinner, eat or not eat. So, they ate. Now they are older, I can’t use that line anymore, but still make them eat what I make or there’s always peanut butter and jelly.
    These meatballs look wonderful so I should have no problem getting them to eat these, maybe not the vegetarian though. 🙂
    Nice to have you back. xx


    1. Francesca Post author

      Nazneen, don’t worry about the wine posts. I understand perfectly. Plus, it’s not me but my husband Stefano who writes all the wine-related posts published on Flora’s Table. He is the wine expert! 😃
      I share your food philosophy with kids. Unfortunately my mother doesn’t! Every time I put on the table something that Her Majesty is not very find of, she starts offering her alternatives. Not very educational but, sometimes, grandparents can be incorrigible! 😜

  2. Francesca Post author

    Hello JG! So nice to hear from you! Hope everything is fine with you and your love for history and ships. I’m sure you are exaggerating but I appreciate your kind comment. So flattering! Thank you very much, dear JG! Hope to read you soon! 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Hello Amanda! Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comment. I think they are but HM has and speaks her own mind. The beauty of living with a little human being in development: unpredictability! 😉

  3. Zoale.com

    These looks delicious Francesca! I have never tried Speck or pea shoots. Looking forward to trying this recipe out. My little girl is going through a similar phase. Don’t let it get you down 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Oh I won’t! Plus, I’m afraid this is nothing compared to what lies ahead of us! 😉
      Glad I introduced you to new ingredients. I’m sure it will be love at the first … bite! 😉
      Thank you, Antonia! 🙂

  4. Maria Dernikos

    Your children can be your harshest critics. I can remember being told that I made too much of a big deal in cooking the Christmas dinner, until one year when I was ill and she had to do it. I can still see her exhausted little face at the table and the memory still makes me laugh. I never heard that criticism again. Soon HM will be cooking and it will be your turn to not quite like the taste!! I love the idea of the pea shoots and will try it myself when they come into season. Lovely to read your posts again.

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, dear Maria! I can totally picture her face too! My mom always says to me: nothing is better than a personal experience to learn a lesson you’ll never forget.
      Wisdom at its best! 🙂

  5. Fae's Twist & Tango

    I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like meatballs. Therefore, we like to know as many juicy varieties of meatball recipes we can think of. I must say, I love this variation, mixing of Speck and cheese and finishing with Marsala. Yum! The second photo showing the flowing juice shows how perfectly they are made. Brava!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you so much for your compliment! You are so sweet, Fae! 🙂
      Do you want to meet someone who is not happy (to say the least!) every time I put meatballs on the table? Let me introduce you to Her Majesty … 😉

  6. Margot @ Gather and Graze

    I’m sure that Her Majesty will come round in time… perhaps a couple more tries and she’ll be as excited as both you and Stefano to see these on the dinner table. The flavour combination sounds wonderful to me… especially how you’ve finished them off with the lemon, marsala and butter! Yum!

    1. Francesca Post author

      I’m sure she will! Of course, when she’ll be a teenager watching for every calorie and regretting not to have eaten them and much more when she was a kiddo! 😜
      Thank you so much, Margot!

  7. Just Add Attitude

    It’s lovely to read one of your posts again Francesca. 😉

    These meatballs look and sound delicious, I suspect ‘Her Majesty’ will grow to love them in time. It’s hard to get speck in Dublin although I think there are a few places where you can buy it. Would you believe I have never eaten it so the next time I see it I will buy some just to taste it.

    You too, have a wonderful weekend. B xx 😉

    1. Francesca Post author

      Oh dear B.! I honestly think that your comments are so heartwarming! It doesn’t happen to me often! 😉
      You should definetely taste some when you have the chance. It is so delicious! Trust me on this! 🙂

  8. Heather @ Sweet Precision

    Ah yes, it never is easy to please everyone in a household is it?! I remember several dishes that I detested as a child but later grew to love in adulthood. Based on how tasty these meatballs look, I’m willing to bet that might be the case for Her Majesty 🙂

  9. sabine

    Speck? I never knew this term was used in English also! How great. I love meatballs and I´m always looking for twists from my own meatball routine, so this recipe suits me totally fine, Francesca! The cheese in it is a wonderful idea! As of sort of picky kids: If they don´t eat what´s on the table, this means: more for you and your husband 😉 (but I know how nerve racking this can be, as 3 year olds have that phase, too…sometimes….not to often…hopefully…)

    1. Francesca Post author

      Yes, not too often … hopefully 😜
      Sometimes I wonder how parents with more than one child can make it. They sure deserve a medal! 😉
      Glad you liked the idea! Thank you so much, Sabine!

  10. apuginthekitchen

    I think those meatballs look and sound outstanding, her majesty is quite picky I take it. Love the pea shoot leaves instead of parsley, and the addition of speck really must give these meatballs a wonderful flavor (I’m a fan of speck). Beautifully done and totally agree, I get so sick of cooking the same things sometimes it’s so good to change it up. Also very glad Stefano agreed that the meatballs are awesome.

    1. Francesca Post author

      Yes, Her Majesty can be … a royal pain sometimes! 😜
      Always asking for something new but subconsciously always wanting the same. Go figure! 😊
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m a speck fan too. So so good! 😄