Mix up fresh flavor for meatballs

Linda Gassenheimer
Tribune News Service

I added cinnamon and cumin to meatballs for a Moroccan take on my family favorite of meatballs and pasta. To speed up the preparation, I used frozen diced onion and minced garlic for the recipe. The meatballs need to be turned over during cooking; the best way to do this is by using two spatulas, one underneath the meatballs and one on top to help guide them over.

The cilantro couscous is made with pearl (sometimes called Israeli) couscous. It’s a larger version of regular couscous. Strictly speaking, true Israeli couscous is slightly smaller than pearl couscous. Either works for this recipe.

Helpful Hints:

— You can use fresh chopped onion instead of frozen.

— You can use four crushed garlic cloves instead of minced garlic.

— Firmly press the meatballs together.

— Make sure the oil is hot in the skillet before adding the meatballs to help them brown.

Countdown:

— Start the couscous.

— While the couscous cooks, prepare the meatballs.

— Finish the couscous and set aside.

— Make the meatballs.

Shopping List:

To buy: 3/4 pound 95% lean ground sirloin, 1 bag frozen chopped onion, 1 container minced garlic, 1 bottle ground cinnamon, 1 bottle ground cumin, 1 can (14-ounce) low-sodium diced tomatoes, 1 can tomato paste, 1 package pearl couscous and 1 bunch cilantro.

Staples: canola oil, egg, salt, and black peppercorns.

Moroccan Meatballs with Cilantro Couscous. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

MOROCCAN MEATBALLS

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

  • 3/4 pound 95% lean ground sirloin
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 14-ounce can low-sodium diced tomatoes with sauce (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Add ground sirloin, onion, egg, cinnamon, cumin and salt and pepper to taste to a large bowl. Mix all the ingredients together. Roll mixture into meatballs about 2 inches in diameter to make 8 meatballs.

Heat canola oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the meatballs. Brown them for 2 minutes.

While meatballs brown, mix the diced tomatoes with the tomato paste and minced garlic in a small bowl. Gently turn meatballs over and continue to cook 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture, lower the heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 465 calories (47% from fat), 24.5 g fat (8 g saturated, 11.4 g monounsaturated), 206 mg cholesterol, 39.6 g protein, 20.4 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 180 mg sodium.

CILANTRO COUSCOUS

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pearled couscous
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan and add couscous, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook 8 minutes or until couscous is soft. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. All the water should be absorbed. When ready, add canola oil, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Fluff up with a fork and divide between the two plates.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 201 calories (25% from fat), 5.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 3 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 5.9 g protein, 31.7 g carbohydrates, 1.9 g fiber, 3 mg sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, "The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook." Listen to Linda on www.WDNA.org and all major podcast sites. Email her at Linda@DinnerInMinutes.com.

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