foodFood & Drink

In the Kitchen With: Jessie Kanelos Weiner’s Braised Meatballs

by Kristina Gill

The coloring book craze has been around for quite a while. I’ve flipped through many that I thought displayed amazing skill and were beautiful, but I never connected with them. Edible Paradise: A Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables, by illustrator Jessie Kanelos Weiner, was different. Described by Jessie as “a cheat sheet guide to eating in season,” I loved the idea of adding color to food, exactly as you see it ripen in nature. Jessie has shared a family recipe with us this week for Braised Meatballs aux Petits Pois and instead of photographs, she has illustrated the recipe for us, making it as personal as the story behind the meatballs. The ingredients scream “summer,” and I can’t wait to try these meatballs out! —Kristina

Why Jessie loves this recipe:
This is the “welcome home” dinner my mother-in-law makes every single time we visit my in-laws in Nice. This is classic home cooking and a taste of her French Algerian family history, “Everyone in my family makes meatballs!” The warming addition of pumpkin pie spices give the meatballs a North African je ne sais quoi. And the sweet peas melt down into a surprisingly rich, nuanced sauce.





Braised meatballs aux petits pois

For 6 servings


– 1 slice white bread, crust removed
– 1 lb (450 g) ground beef
– 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
– ½ teaspoon sea salt
– ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 pinch of each: cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg)
– ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
– Olive oil

Petits pois

– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 medium yellow onion, diced
– 1 stalk of celery, diced
– 1 carrot, diced
– 1 medium tomato, chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 4 cups (600 g) shelled green peas or frozen sweet peas
– 2 ¼ cups (500 ml) vegetable broth
– 1 handful parsley leaves
– 1 bay leaf
– ½ teaspoon sea salt
– ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Soak bread in water for a few minutes. Using hands, squeeze water from bread. Break ground beef into small pieces in a large bowl, add bread and remaining ingredients. Using hands, quickly and gently mix meat mixture just until all ingredients are evenly combined (do not overmix). Chill mixture at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour. Moisten hands with water, then roll meat mixture between palms into golf-ball-size balls. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add meatballs, separating them so they are not touching. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and firm to the touch. Repeat till all the meatballs are cooked. Reserve.

For the peas, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook, stirring often, until caramelized. Add tomato and cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to stick to the pot, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, peas, broth, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded and the broth has reduced, 25–30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add meatballs to peas and cook 10 minutes until heated through.


About Jessie: Illustrator, food stylist and author Jessie Kanelos Weiner is best known for her vibrant watercolor illustrations and fine line coloring books. She works for international clients including Nespresso, Kellogg’s, Rizzoli and the Hachette Book Group, among many others. Her work has appeared in international style publications Vogue, T Magazine, Cherry Bombe, Le Nouvel Observateur and M Le Magazine du Monde. Jessie writes and illustrates a popular blog about her life called thefrancofly.com. She has written a handful of cookbooks, including a collection of American family recipes adapted to French tastes, Pâtisseries et gâteaux d’Amérique (Marabout). Her latest book Edible Paradise : A Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (Rizzoli’s Universe Imprint), intricately explores the edible plant kingdom. A Chicago native, Jessie lives and works in Paris, France.


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  • Lovely recipe! I’m not usually big on peas, but this sauce might change my mind. It sounds like the perfect meal for a Saturday night of lounging around outside with a (large) glass of wine!

  • Gosh, I love your watercolor works!! So glad to have found you here. Will be following along. The recipe looks delicious.

  • Oh, I was immediately taken in not by (yet) another recipe but those magnificent, fresh & joy- as well as colourful sketches in water colour….. Love it – AND I’m gonna make those meatballs because I love everything out of this idea (including fresh peas, soon in full season, or else, terrific from frozen).
    Thank you for this eye-p.o.r.n….. after all the cookery book p.xxxx I often ‘read’ and take in just for the sheer joy of those magnificent photos…. I am one of those mad people who owns tons of books but literally never cooks with a recipe – I just take (steal) ideas, open my fridge and then create. Surprisingly, because I totally love cooking it nearly always turns out wonderful and my guests & family has survived so far :)