Thursday, November 29, 2012

North African Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Date Pearled Couscous

I received a complete surprise on my birthday this year. My daughter Katie purchased me a Tagine. Tagine, is the name of both the dish and the pot it is cooked in.
Birthday Surprise!

 It is traditionally done on the stovetop so the moisture condenses on the cool top and drops back to baste the dish. This particular pot came from Clay Coyote Pottery. Their particular tagine is flameware based so that you can do high temperature pre-cooking like sauteeing onions, garlic, browning meat, then lower the heat to cook the traditionally simmered tagine. You can cook on gas, electric and even glass top stoves and cleanup is a breeze. Tagines are used in many Moroccan dishes, but can be used for any style dish you like.

The following recipe came about because the folks at Clay Coyote Pottery held a contest. The recipe I selected comes from a blog called Elsa Cooks. She only received second place, but after tasting it I think she deserved first.

North African Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Date Pearled Couscous
Serving Size = 2 - 3

  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Cinnamon, just a pinch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1, 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce (could also use tomato paste, about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  1. Place a large, deep saute pan or tagine over medium heat. Add a touch of oil (EVOO).
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients for the meatballs, except the beef. Once blended, add the beef and mix with hands as little as possible, just until combined. Roll into golf-ball size meatballs. Once done, add to pan and brown on all sides, turning as little as possible. Remove from pan, drain off excess oil and add a bit of EVOO.
  3. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until it starts to soften, then add the spices, zest, and mix. Cook about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of water to deglaze a bit, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and cover, cook until the meatballs cook through (about 20 minutes), turning once. I also reduce the heat a bit to keep the sauce at a simmer.
  4. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, start the couscous.
Orange and Date Couscous
Serving Size = 2 - 3
  • 1 cup pearled couscous
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the OJ, water, salt, and dates to a boil. Add the couscous, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 8 - 10 minutes.
  2. Serve the meatballs and sauce over or next to the couscous.
I used pineapple and pineapple juice instead of the orange. It was great. Thanks again Katie.

Life is good - enjoy!