Moroccan Inspired Meatballs

I found this meatball recipe a couple of years ago and it’s so so good. I served them the first time with cous cous & tzatziki for dipping and they were a huge crowd pleaser, but I lightened it up this go around with an almond/garlic/white wine sauce and a bed of baby greens. The original recipe calls for lamb and a lot of mint, so I’ve altered a little bit to my tastes, but they still exude a Moroccan feel with cumin, cinnamon and mint. The spices create a slightly smokey and warming flavor profile while the mint and parsley add a fresh spark.

This almond sauce is a little more Spanish inspired – it has fresh ground almonds, garlic, more parsley and white wine, yum! I thought the sauce and meatballs were even better a day later after all the flavors were able to come together. I still love them with the tzatziki, but either route, you end up with flavors of the Mediterranean (one a little more eastern and one a little more western) that are so right for each other.

hand-ground picada for the sauce

Moroccan Inspired Meatballs*

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped very finely
  • 1/2 lb beef
  • 1/2 lb pork
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup loosely packed mint, finely chopped
  • 2-4 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt (~1 tsp) and pepper to taste

Warm oil in saute pan and cook onion till very soft, add garlic at very end. Let cool. In a separate bowl add all ingredients including onions and garlic. Thoroughly mix all ingredients with hands, making sure all ingredients are well-distributed. Start with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs, add more if the mixture is too wet. Add 1/2-1 cup mint depending on your taste preference.

Heat oven to 350. Form meatballs ~12 larger meatballs or ~24 smaller meatballs for a group, and place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size, until cooked through.

Meanwhile prepare almond sauce and  warm through meatballs in sauce before serving.

*Meatball recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma here, Almond Sauce recipe here (I omitted the saffron)

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