Warm spices and a sprinkling of fresh herbs give these Moroccan Meatballs, served with chickpeas and tomatoes, the flavor boost your dinner plate has been lacking. Familiar enough for the “spaghetti and” lovers in your home, yet with enough tweaks (cinnamon! feta cheese!) to wake up your palate, our version of this Moroccan street food will become a new favorite. Once you’ve mastered this easy recipe, you can branch out and try making Moroccan meatballs tagine-style (browned meatballs poached in a spiced tomato sauce) or even tiny marble-sized versions that kids (and adults) will adore.
What can I use in place of beef?
The traditional version of these meatballs (known as kefta or kofta) are usually made with ground beef or lamb, but if those aren’t your thing, you can try making them with ground chicken as well. If you’re looking for ways to get more plant-based foods in your diet or just want to stretch a smaller amount of meat, try mixing in some cooled sautéed mushrooms or even some cooked bulgur in place of the beef.
Any tips for forming meatballs?
Try to avoid over-mixing or over-kneading the beef while forming the balls — it can lead to tough little nuggets instead of tender meatballs. Separate your mixture into 12 more or less equal portions first, then form each into a ball. If your meat mixture is a little sticky, try dampening your hands with a little water in between forming each ball.
How else can I serve them?
For variety or if you want to serve them as an appetizer, try making the balls smaller and broil only a minute, or less. Add some of chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh mint into the meat mixture for extra freshness. Skip the couscous and serve over rice or toast some pita bread for everyone to build their own sandwiches.
YIELDS: 4 servings
TOTAL TIME: 0 hours 25 mins
1 large egg
1/3 c. panko
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, divided
1 lb. ground beef
1 pt. cherry and/or grape tomatoes, halved
1 14.5-oz can chickpeas, rinsed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. crumbled feta
1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Couscous, for serving
Heat broiler. In large bowl, beat egg, then add panko, spices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Finely grate in 2 cloves garlic. Mix in beef, then shape into 12 balls.
Transfer meatballs to rimmed baking sheet, then broil on rack in upper portion of oven until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 425°F. Remove meatballs from oven and carefully pour out any excess fat.
In bowl, toss tomatoes and chickpeas with oil, remaining clove garlic (thinly sliced), and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Add to pan with meatballs and roast until tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, top with feta and parsley, and serve with couscous.