Here’s a twist on meatballs. Have you ever used couscous instead of bread crumbs? Somehow it works magically with the ground lamb. This is another great year round dish since everything is cooked on the stove top. No need for the oven. Thank goodness with the heat wave we’re having. I’m just grateful we don’t have hundred degree weather like the south is having right now. It’s been over a 100 in Tennessee. I lived there 23 years, and I don’t remember it ever being that hot. Even when I lived in Florida it was never that hot either. Ok well maybe the humidity took it over the edge.
Speaking of heat, these meatballs are a little on the spicy side. There is some cayenne pepper in the meatball mixture. Are you still on board? You can always tone it down or omit it completely. Cinnamon is also an interesting twist in the meatballs and marinara sauce. The flavors remind me of Morocco for some reason. Maybe because my family used to live there, and my grandmother would make some kind of stew with couscous and raisins for us growing up. That was probably my least favorite thing she made, but now I love couscous now. I might have to track down that recipe and breathe some new life into it.
I used a box of Near East’s Toasted Pine Nut Couscous. You use 1/2 cup in the meatball mixture and serve the remaining couscous with the meatballs.
Not a fan of cayenne pepper? Use 1/8 teaspoon or omit it completely.
You can see the tiny bits of couscous in the meatballs which adds great texture.
I used a jar of store-bought marinara sauce to save time.
Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Couscous
adapted from Weeknights with Giada
serves 2 to 3
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup cooked and cooled couscous (see note below)
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use 1/8 teaspoon for less heat)
1 tablespoon extra olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, add the ground lamb, couscous, onion, garlic, parsley, olive oil, basil, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Using your hands, mix together carefully not to overwork the meat. Form the mixture into 8 to 9 (2-inch diameter) meatballs.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook for about 6 minutes, until brown on all sides. Add the marinara sauce and cinnamon. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve the remaining couscous alongside the meatballs.
Note about Couscous: I like to use Near East’s Toasted Pine Nut Couscous. Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the box. Allow the couscous to cool and add 1/2 cup to the meatball mixture. Serve the remaining couscous alongside the meatballs.