Spiced Meatballs in Smoked Paprika Tomato Sauce

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I must have made these meatballs over thirty times. It’s just one of those reliable dishes I keep returning to especially when entertaining for a group. Over time I have played around with the spices and herbs but a few things remain consistent. The smoked paprika adds this wonderful heat without being too harsh while the combination of all the fresh herbs bring in a freshness that works so well in creating an unexpected texture. I still do love my traditional Italian meatballs but adding in a Middle Eastern spin really kicks these up, not to mention they’re perfect for serving at a party. Hearty and completely comforting, warm crusty baguette not optional!

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Recipe

For the meatballs (makes 16-18):

1 lb minced beef or lamb (a combination of both also works)

2 cloves of garlic

½ white onion

3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

2 tbs fresh oregano leaves roughly chopped

3 tbs fresh parsley roughly chopped

2 tbs fresh coriander roughly chopped

1 ½ tbs fresh dill roughly chopped

1 tbs tomato paste

1 egg beaten

½ cup (62 grams) panko breadcrumbs

½ tsp dried mint

1 ¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp sumac powder

1 tsp fennel seed

½ tsp Aleppo pepper

½ tsp smoked paprika

2 tbs sunflower oil

Blitz together the garlic, onion, thyme, oregano, parsley, coriander, & dill in a food processor or blender till combined and add together with minced beef into a large bowl. Next add the remaining spices & dried mint, use your hands to mix everything together. Add in the tomato paste, egg and breadcrumbs. Keep mixing until well combined. Form the mince into meatballs (3 ½ – 4 cm width) and cook in a shallow pan on medium heat with the sunflower oil. Keep turning the meatballs so they cook evenly throughout, it will take around 7-8 minutes. Set the meatballs aside on a plate and keep the pan as is.

For the tomato sauce:

1 can chopped tomatoes

½ onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

½ tsp ground cumin

1 ½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp salt

3 tbs water

Using the same pan that the meatballs were cooked in sauté the onion on medium heat until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for two minutes more. Next add the tomatoes, stir till combined. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, salt & water and stir. Cook for 10-12 minutes, taste for seasoning.

Serve the meatballs together with the tomato sauce and crusty French baguette. Garnish with toasted almond flakes & sprigs of fresh dill.

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Noreen

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