Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Eastern Promise...

Sweet, spicy and insanely tasty; meatballs are one of my absolute favourite speedy dinners. Ripe for slurping, for staining lips with post-box red tomato sauce and for artfully splashing your favourite white shirt with Pollock inspired embellishment; they may not be top of the list for first date noshing, but there is absolutely no doubting their yum-inducing credentials. Go one step further and add a dash of Morrocan inspired spices, a crumble of milky, slightly sour feta cheese, a scattering of fragrant fresh mint leaves and a flourish of ruby red pomegranate jewels and you have a midweek dinner that will blow your mind. Get rid of the problematic, messy pasta in place of heavenly lemony couscous and, quashing your silk blouse fears, they might even be your new date night favourite...

With juicy, cumin spiked meatballs nestling in a rich, sticky around the edges tomato and red pepper sauce, fragrant with cinnamon and fresh mint this dish is guaranteed to mean you will never look at Spag Bol in quite the same way again. Prepare the meatballs in advance and you can just tumble them into the sauce just before you are ready to dig your fork into the delicious mound of full on Middle Eastern flavour. Add a swirl of creamy, fresh Greek yoghurt, a wedge of lemon and scatter over the gorgeously fresh, totally instagramable jewels of pomegranate and torn mint leaves and your new favourite dinner is as easy as that.

YUM, try it...

Morrocan Meatballs with Lemony Couscous, Serves 4

For the meatballs

500g lamb mince
12 cream crackers, crushed or blended to a fine crumb
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic crushed
1 red onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sweet paprika
Small bunch fresh mint, chopped
Zest 1/2 lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

For the tomato sauce

Olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 red pepper sliced
2 tins cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sugar
A squeeze tomato puree
Juice and zest 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

For the Couscous
250g couscous
Boiling water to cover
juice and zest 1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

To serve

Pomegranate kernels
Fresh mint, torn
Feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges
Greek yoghurt

To make the meatballs, fry the onion in a little olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and spices and saute for a few more minutes, until the spices have released their gorgeous aroma and the garlic is just cooked. Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, use your hands to scrunch together all of the ingredients for the meatballs, including the cooled onions and spices, until fully combined. Season well.

Roll the meatball mixture into balls and fry in a large frying pan in a little olive oil, until golden brown.

To make the sauce- Fry the onion in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the pepper, spices and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the pepper is just cooked. 

Add the tinned cherry tomatoes, the sugar, a splash of boiling water and the tomato puree and cook until reduced to a thick sauce. Add the lemon juice and zest, and season to taste

Carefully stir in the browned meatballs into the sauce and leave to simmer until the meatballs are cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the cous cous. In a large bowl, cover the couscous with the boiling water add a splash of olive oil, the lemon juice and zest and a good twist of salt and pepper. Cover with clingfilm and leave to absorb before fluffing with a fork.

To serve, spoon the meatballs onto the couscous, scatter with the feta, mint and pomegranate, adding lemon wedges and yoghurt if you wish.  

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