It is 8:45 pm on a Sunday, I’m sitting on my computer and posting my new Middle Eastern / Mediterranean-inspired recipe that I think is good enough for a dinner party or a weeknight meal. Lamb meatballs despite their simplicity and comfort food status, done right, are telling a story in their own way about commitment, passion, and quality. There is a saying in cooking, “do it right or don’t do it all”.
There is something intriguing about the process of making great meatballs
Maybe it’s the simplicity of how to make them or the complex ethnic flavor that can be achieved with the right selection of herbs, spices, texture, and flavor. I’m adding a few teaspoons of Ras El Hanout to my meatballs, a Moroccan spice blend. The name in Arabic means “head of the shop,” and literally refers to the best spices the store has to offer. Moroccan cuisine is rich in spices, and it is only natural when you consider the age-old spice trade from Arabia to North Africa.
It has been only 2 weeks and I have cooked the recipe for lamb meatballs 3 times. Three. Basically, it tells you that I love bulgur pilaf and lamb meatballs and with it the awesome Moroccan flavor of cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, lemon, raisins, and fresh herbs.
Kick it up a notch
Zhoug a Yemenite hot sauce provides another flavor aspect and adds a nice kick. Zhoug originally from Yemen, prepared with tons of fresh cilantro, spicy Serrano peppers, garlic, cardamom, and cumin, is basically another version of a Chimichurri. Zhoug is one of my favorite condiments and it is the perfect match for lamb meatballs and bulgur pilaf. A condiment that explodes with clean fresh flavors.
Bulgur is made from wheat berries that have been cleaned, parboiled, dried, ground/cracked into particles, and sifted. A staple of Indian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisines for centuries, bulgur tends to be the most well-known as the main ingredient used in tabbouleh.
Benefits of Bulgur
Another reason to eat Bulgur is that it is low in fat, and high in minerals; on top of this, bulgur wheat provides a very good dose of the dietary fiber you need for digestive and heart health. Over 25% of your daily needs in every one-cup serving! Bulgur is nutrient-rich whole grain, a cup of Bulgur has only 150 calories, 8 grams of fiber, and nearly 6 grams of protein. The ancient grain has been called many names over the last 4,000 years, ancient Babylonians, Hittites, and Jews called this wheat product “arisah,” which is how it was referred to in the Bible.
Lemon Bulgur Pilaf, Lamb Meatballs, Yogurt and Zhoug
- 1.5 Lb ground lamb
- 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1 small onion, grated
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
Lemon Bulgur Pilaf
- 2 tbsp onion, diced
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 oz bulgur, medium
- 1 tsp lemon juice, fresh
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 10 oz garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 1/4 tsp Ras El Hanout
- 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped
- 4 oz roasted bell peppers
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 ounce Zhoug
Mix the meatballs
- Add ground lamb with all the spices, the grated lemon zest, red wine vinegar, red wine, and diced onion in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly with your hands.Preheat the oven to 375F.1.5 Lb ground lamb, 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp black pepper ground, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, 2 tbsp cilantro, 1 small onion, grated, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp red wine, 1 tbsp sweet paprika powder, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tsp cumin, ground
Form the meatballs
- Spray sheet a pan with olive oil. Form the mixture into meatballs of about 2 ounces each and place on a sheet pan.
Bake the meatballs
- Bake Lamb meatballs in the preheated oven until they are nicely browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Cook the lemon bulgur
- While meatballs are baking, heat the pan over medium heat, and add olive oil. Add diced onions and sauté onions until translucent. Add vegetable stock to sautéed onions and combine with cracked wheat, lemon juice, lemon zest, garbanzo beans, raisins, roasted peppers, and the Moroccan spice blend.2 tbsp onion, diced, 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 4 oz bulgur, medium, 1 tsp lemon juice, fresh, 1 tsp lemon zest, 10 oz garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, 1/3 cup raisins, 3/4 cup vegetable stock, 1 1/4 tsp Ras El Hanout, 4 oz roasted bell peppers, 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
- Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Let pilaf rest additional 5 to 10 minutes remove foil and mix with chopped fresh mint and chopped parsley.1/4 cup fresh mint, 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Arrange lemon bulgur pilaf on a plate, garnish with meatballs and Yogurt. Serve with Zhoug on the side.2 ounce Zhoug
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate