“In the fall of 2022, I was looking to use up the basil in my garden before winter took it away. I was hoping to find something to use it in other than pesto and found this recipe. What’s great about this is it uses so many of the fresh herbs I grow in my garden, plus my cherry tomatoes! This is also my first foray into cooking lamb. It is a really nice, lighter option for meatballs instead of using beef. Too bad it is so expensive! This is a bit of work and a bit of a splurge, but it is super tasty and an impressive dish to serve for company.” – April Ferre
Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula Salad
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- 1 1/2 8-Inch Whole Wheat Pitas Diced into 1/-2-Inch Pieces
- 1 Cup Fresh Parsley Minced
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Mint Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano Minced
- 2 Large Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 to 1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
- 2 Pounds Ground Lamb
For Tomato Sauce:
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 3 Large Cloves Garlic Minced
- 28- Ounce Can Whole Italian Peeled Tomatoes Crushed
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Harissa Or To Taste
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
For Aioli-Yogurt Sauce:
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 4 Large Cloves Garlic Pressed or Finely Minced
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 3/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
- 8 Cups Baby Arugula
- 16 Cherry Tomatoes Halved
- Moroccan Carrot Salad Optional
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley Chopped
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Basil Chiffonade
Make the meatballs:
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Combine milk and pita in a stand mixer bowl; let stand until bread is soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add parsley, mint, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Beat until well mixed and pita bread is evenly dispersed in the mixture.
- Add ground lamb and mix well until evenly combined.
- Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place in an oven-safe baking dish. If mixture is too hard to handle, refrigerate briefly.
- Place meatballs in the oven on the top rack and brown, turning meatballs as necessary.
Make the tomato sauce:
- While meatballs are browning, heat olive in a large Dutch oven. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute.
- Add crushed tomatoes, harissa, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
- If the sauce is overly acidic and brown sugar as necessary to mellow out the sauce.
- Bring sauce to a simmer and reduce for 5 to 7 minutes.
- When meatballs have finished browning, add to tomato sauce and continue to simmer until meatballs are tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the aioli-yogurt sauce:
- Add egg yolks, garlic and salt to a blender container. Pulse briefly to mix well.
- With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until the aioli is emulsified, increasing the speed as you go.
- Stop the motor and add in lemon juice, Continue to blend until lemon juice is incorporated.
- Add yogurt and blend again on low speed until well combined.
Assemble the dish:
- In a large casserole dish or individual bowls, place arugula, cherry tomatoes and Moroccan carrot salad, if desired.
- Spoon over meatballs and tomato sauce.
- Drizzle meatballs with aioli-yogurt sauce and top with fresh parsley and basil.
- Serve immediately. Makes approximately 35 to 40 meatballs.
- This dish can easily be assembled inside a pita pocket for a tasty sandwich!
2022 Adapted Recipe – April Ferre – Adapted from Saveur, 2014.