MOROCCAN LAMB MEATBALLS

Lately I have been craving dishes with a hint of spice.  And I’m not talking jalapeño spice, that though tasty is a common go-to for us Californian’s.  I’m talking the fresh flavorful spice like; cardamon, cumin, ginger, mint and or cilantro.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the opportunity to travel (with my boys in tow) to Morocco late last year.  There was some serious highlights to the trip but the food had me at hello and has kept me wishing and wanting ever since.

I decided to test out this lamb meatball recipe found via Pinterest.  I love lamb but tend to be a bit intimidated on how to prepare it, so naturally I stay away from buying it.  Moroccan dishes like such combine an array of flavors which is a complete treat for the senses…one minute you taste the lemon, then cinnamon, mint, parsley, etc.  These diverse flavors paired with the earthy lamb is a match made in heaven, and keeps your taste buds guessing and wanting more.  Plus, meatballs in general are a favorite of mine as they freeze easily, which makes you look like a champ for those last minute dinner scrambles.  Don’t be turned off by the long list of ingredients as they really are quite simple to make and make more than enough for two meals. We pair them with some roasted cauliflower, fresh greens and pita.

INGREDIENTS

MEATBALLS:
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 medium red onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 large egg, well beaten
a handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
zest of two lemons
1/2 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh feta cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
olive oil for frying

SAUCE:
2/3 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp salt
4-6 tbs water

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, mix the onion, garlic, ginger, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, feta, cinnamon, cardomom, salt and pepper.  Add in the beaten egg, lamb and beef.  Mix everything together using your fingertips.  It’s important to mix the ingredients evenly without overly compacting the meat.  Begin forming small meatballs.  (This step can be done in advance and placed in the fridge if needed.)

Heat a frying pan and pour olive oil to the cover the bottom.  Work in small batches and brown the meatballs on all sides.  Add more oil in between batches to insure that the meat does’t stick to the pan.  Once browned, transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile begin making the sauce by mixing the tahini, salt, lemon and water together.  (I ended up adding more salt here, but I have a savory pallet.)  Once the meatballs are cooked, nestle them in the sauce.  Sprinkle parsley, pine nuts and a dash of paprika.

Recipe was found here