I haven’t done any food shopping this week, in an attempt to use up what has been lingering in my cupboards /freezer /fridge for a while. So we’ve had a few interesting meals. Some successful (fish fingers with ketchup, mayo and pickles in a pita – a lunch of champions) and some less so (baked potato with tuna, greek yoghurt and harissa, no butter. A bit odd. Not bad, just not delicious). You live and you learn, people.
We have had some beef mince knocking about in the freezer for a couple of weeks, harissa in the fridge, and a lot of spices in the cupboard, so yesterday I decided I’d make Moroccan meatballs with lemon and courgette couscous.
It was possibly one of the best things I’ve made all year. So I’m sharing it with you because if there is one of my recipes you need to make, then I think it should be this one.
Serve it with couscous – please buy plain couscous and not that dreadful flavoured stuff – and add lemon zest, half a grated raw courgette, and salt. If you have flaked almonds, stir some into the couscous, if not, pine nuts sprinkled over the meatballs are good, too.
- 500g beef mince
- 1 large white onion (finely diced)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (or add another tsp ground cumin if you don't have cumin seeds to hand)
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- squeeze of lemon juice
- salt and pepper - to taste
- 1 400g tin of tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 glass of red wine
- a good pinch of sugar
- In a frying pan, gently sauté the onions in olive oil until they are soft. Meanwhile, put the meat, egg and all the spices and harissa into a bowl and combine. Add the cooked onion and a squeeze of lemon juice and mix well.
- At this point you can (and should) fry a teaspoonful of meat and taste to test the seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
- Once you are happy with the flavour, shape the mixture into balls and fry in batches until there is a nice crust on the outside. You should be able to get around 16 little meatballs from these amounts. Place into an ovenproof lasagne dish or similar whilst you prepare the sauce.
- In the same pan you used to seal the meatballs, empty a tin of tomatoes, and add the tomato purée, wine, honey and sugar and bring to a rapid boil. You want the alcohol to burn off, leaving a rich, tomatoey flavour with a hint of honey. It should take 10 - 15 minutes to intensify and thicken a little.
- Add the sauce to the meatballs and bake in a moderately hot oven for 20 minutes. The sauce should have reduced down until it's almost dry, but not to the point where it's caught on the dish.
- Serve with couscous. Cook as per packet instructions, and add half a courgette, grated, and the zest of a lemon as well as salt to taste.