Moroccan Inspired Meatballs

Moroccan Inspired Meatballs

Moroccan Inspired Meatballs

Moroccan Inspired Meatballs

Honestly, I can’t say enough how much I have just fallen in love with the Moroccan flavors.  So robust and rich!  I have alway made the traditional Italian meatballs which are absolutely fabulous but the Moroccan flavors bring a nice change and turn the dish into something completely different.  I have included how to cook spaghetti squash in this recipe.  We like to eat somewhat low carb but I know it isn’t for everyone.  If so, use what ever pasta you have on hand or is your favorite.

Ingredients List:

*Note*  this recipe makes more meatballs than you will actually use to serve 4 – 6 people.  You can cut it in half or make the meatballs and freeze the extra for later.  I actually prefer to have the extra in the freezer and can pull them out for a rainy day when I don’t feel like cooking.  

1/2 cup extra Virgin Olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 whole pod (about 7 – 8 cloves) fresh garlic, chopped

1/4 cup white wine

3 lbs ground sirloin

3 lbs ground sweet Italian sausage

2 TBS ground ginger

2 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS garlic Powder

1 TBS onion Powder

1 TBS kosher salt

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp course ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

3 fresh eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 spaghetti squash

olive oil spray

kosher salt

coarse ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat.  When hot, add the onions and sauté until soft and slightly golden.  Add the fresh chopped garlic and let it sauté for another minute.  Stir it often so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Pour in the white wine and let the alcohol cook off, about 30 – 45 seconds.  Remove from heat and let it cool off somewhat before adding it to the meat.

Put both of the meats in a large mixing bowl.  Add the ginger, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, cilantro, parsley, bread crumbs, and eggs.  Gently but thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together.  The key is not to “pack” the mixture too much but you definitely want all of the spices and flavors equally distributed through out the meat mixture.  Use an ice-cream scooper to gently form the meatballs.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil.  Put them in the refrigerator to let them firm up a bit before cooking them.  While the meatballs are getting all firmed up in the fridge, make your tomato sauce and cook the spaghetti squash.  If using regular pasta, cook pasta of your choice according to package directions but wait until 10 – 15 minutes before you are ready to assemble the dish.

To cook the meatballs, heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meatballs and reduce heat to medium.  Brown them on all sides. You will probably have to do this in batches.  Return them to the baking sheet.  Put them in the preheated oven for about 10 -12 minutes.  Set them aside until everything else is done and you are ready to assemble the dish.

For the spaghetti squash, cover a baking sheet with tin foil.  Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and discard.  Place the squash on the baking sheet, cut side UP!  Generously spray them with the olive oil spray and season them with salt and pepper.  Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them sit until ready to use.

Moroccan Sauce with Harissa:

Ingredients List:

6 – 28 oz. whole tomatoes, drained but reserve liquid.

1 /2 cup harissa paste (note: harissa is hot! My sauce has a little “kick” to it so you may want to      adjust how much you use.)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 whole pod garlic (about 7 – 8 cloves), chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

3 – 4 chicken bullion cubes

1 TBS cumin

1 TBS corriander

1 TBS ginger

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

1 tsp smoked mild paprika

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

Zest and juice of a lime, plus more for garnish

Bouquet garni of fresh oregano, parsley, and cilantro ( I actually used the stems from the fresh cilantro that I chopped for the sauce)

Fresh goat cheese for topping

Put the drained tomatoes and the harissa in a deep bowl or pot and blend with an emulsion blender until somewhat smooth.  Set aside until ready to use.

In a medium/large pot, heat the olive oil over high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until soft and somewhat golden.  Add the chopped garlic and continue to saute for another minute stirring so that the garlic doesn’t burn.  Pour in the wine!  Stir it for about 30 seconds and add the tomato and harissa mixture.  Add 2 cups of the reserved liquid from the tomatoes.  Add in all of the spices, fresh herbs, and lime juice.  Bring it up to a slow boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring often and adding more of the tomato liquid if necessary.  Always taste your sauces at this point to see if it needs anymore salt, bullion cube, or pepper.

Now to assemble the dish.  Scoop out the spaghetti squash and evenly distribute into individual au gratin or casserole dishes.  Or, if using regular pasta, do the same with the pasta.  Top with about 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Place two or three meatballs into each dish.  Top with more of the sauce and crumble the desired amount of goat cheese on top.   Return to the oven and cook for 10 – 15 minutes.  Drizzle each with fresh lime juice and top with fresh cilantro.

SERVE & ENJOY!!!

Shakshouka

Shakshouka

Shakshouka

Shakshouka

“Poached Eggs in a Harissa Tomato Sauce”

My tastebuds seem to be leaning towards Middle Eastern/ Moroccan flavors lately.  Probably because they combine such robust ingredients that are layered into some of the most delicious, satisfying recipes I have ever eaten.  I first came across a recipe for Shakshouka on a Fox News article.  I printed it and put it in a place that I would be sure to remember it when I was ready to cook!  Of course, I never saw it again.  Recently, while looking through one of my middle eastern cookbooks, there it was!!!  The most beautiful picture of poached eggs nestled into a chunky looking, savory,  tomato sauce.  It was time to make the dish!!!  That book was The New Book of Middle Eastern Food written by Claudia Roden.  By the way, this book has some fabulous recipes!!!  I modified the recipe somewhat but loved her variation of adding preserved lemon rinds.  Chad and I made some several months ago and have never been brave enough to try them. Perfect opportunity!!!  And let me tell you…..  FLAVOR, FLAVOR, FLAVOR!!!  I can see where it could over power a dish so I only used half a peel and it was plenty.  I used the recipe in Claudia’s book to do the preserved lemon rinds.  I also used several other spices that we have used in other middle eastern dishes and it all came together very nicely.

Ingredients List:

2 TBS olive oil

1 large onion, rough chopped *** Note: rough chopped is larger chunks not fine pieces

1 large bell pepper, rough chopped

6 – 7 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup red wine (white is fine too )

4 – 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, hand crushed, liquid reserved ***Note:  reserve the liquid in the can as well as the liquid that results from crushing them.

1 TBS tomato paste

1 tsp harissa

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1 – 2 low sodium chicken bullion cubes

1/2 preserved lemon rind, pulp scooped out, rinsed, and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro *save out a pinch for garnishing

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley *save out a pinch for garnishing

4 – large eggs

 

In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil over high heat.  Add the onions and bell peppers and saute until the onions are tender and golden, 6 – 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to saute.  Stir constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Add in the wine! Cook for another minute.  Turn the heat to low while adding in all of the spices.  Add the crushed tomatoes and two cups of the reserved liquid. Blend the tomatoes in with the onion mixture.  Add the harissa and the tomato paste.  Season the pot with the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and bullion cube.  Blend well then add the chopped lemon rind and the cilantro and parsley.  Add another 1 1/2 cups of the tomato liquid.  Return the heat to high and bring it up to a slow boil until slightly bubbly.  Stir it well, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about another 20 minutes.  Taste to see if you need another bullion or a pinch of salt.   Now, make 4 small “wells” in the sauce as beat as you can.  Crack an egg into each well. I had to make a well and crack an egg…make a well and add an egg…etc.  Cook over medium heat until the eggs have poached.  This takes several minutes or more.  You will know they are poached when the egg whites have become opaque.  Carefully remove each egg with some sauce into individual dishes.

 Serve and enjoy!!!!!