My love affair with meatballs began when my Mom served me my first plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
The tender rounds of beef and pork had simmered in tomato sauce all day. I was hooked.
Years later, my sister introduced me to Swedish meatballs and that was followed by my sister-in-law’s delicious Texan meatballs.
There have been bite-sized cocktail versions and massive ones that make a meal.
Many are made of meat, of course, but there are vegetarian versions, too. But I guess we shouldn’t call those “meatballs,” should we?
This week I’m featuring Moroccan seasonings with ground lamb to create a tasty version that gets simmered in a slightly spicy tomato sauce, flavoured with cinnamon and cumin.
Serve this comfort dish with a side of either couscous or bulgur. Or you can accompany them with pita bread.
I also like to put a dish of labneh on the side. This strained yogurt cheese is absolutely delicious. You can find it at Middle Eastern markets and at some of the large Asian markets.
If you are not a fan of lamb, you can substitute a combination of ground beef and pork for the meatballs.
2 lbs. (1 kg) ground lamb
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs
½ cup (125 ml) milk
½ cup (125 ml) chopped parsley
¼ (50 ml) chopped fresh mint
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. (15 ml) minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. (10 ml) ground cumin
2 tsp. (10 ml) salt
2 tbsp. (25 ml) olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 tsp. (10 ml) minced ginger
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cumin
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) harissa or ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 28-oz. (798-ml) can of diced tomatoes
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. (25 ml) chopped fresh mint
Couscous or bulgur
Yogurt or labneh
1. In medium bowl, combine lamb, bread crumbs, milk, parsley, mint, garlic, ginger, cumin and salt. Mix together well with your hands.
2. Roll meat into balls about size of golf ball and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
4. Bake meatballs about 12-15 minutes. Turn broiler on and cook until meatballs are golden on top, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully). Remove from oven.
5. While meatballs are baking, heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft.
6. Stir in ginger, cumin, cinnamon and harissa. Add tomatoes and bring to simmer.
7. Add salt to taste.
8. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer on low heat about 20-30 minutes.
9. Garnish with mint before serving and serve with desired accompaniments.
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