Hello there fellow foodies.
You may have noticed there’s been a bit of a lag between posts. Without divulging too much personal information, lets just say I hadn’t been feeling myself the past few weeks and couldn’t imagine it not coming across in my writing. I am glad to have had time to put things in perspective with a renewed focus on the good things. One of which being these fantastic Greek lamb meatballs!
I made these a couple weeks back on a night in need of good comfort food and these provided exactly that and so much more. With Mediterranean flavors of fresh oregano and mint shining through the delicious lamb, bathed in a cinnamon-infused spiced tomato sauce over pasta, this meal not only comforts away the woes of a tough day but really strikes you with its unique flavor combinations. It reminded me a bit of the fantastic Greek Moussaka I made in the early fall, with the cinnamon and lamb.
I like to brown my meatballs and then finish cooking them in the sauce I intend to serve them with, and I’ve indicted that method in the recipe below. But if you like they can be baked in a medium oven (375ish) and then topped with the sauce when cooked through. I served these over traditional spaghetti but you could use orzo (a rice shaped pasta) or rice for gluten-free. A generous sprinkling of Greek feta cheese at the end finishes the dish.
greek meatballs in spiced tomato sauce
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 Tbs minced red onion
- 1 Tbs minced parsley
- 1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (preferably Hungarian)
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh mint, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 4 oz Greek feta
1. Prepare the meatballs: In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk; let sit until the bread absorbs the milk, about 10 minutes. Put lamb in a medium bowl. Squeeze the excess milk from the breadcrumbs and add them to the lamb. Add the egg, onion, parsley, oregano, mint, garlic, cinnamon, paprika, allspice, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Using your hands, mix everything together until combined. Shape into golf-ball sized meatballs and set aside.
2. Make the sauce: Saute the red onion in olive oil over medium heat in a large pot until softened but not browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and using a wooden spoon or potato masher, coarsely mash some of the tomatoes. Add oregano, mint, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, allspice, and red wine. Stir to combine. Let simmer 15 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt/seasonings as you like. Keep warm at a very low simmer while you brown the meatballs.
3. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the meatballs in a single layer, in batches if needed, not over-crowding the skillet and brown 3-4 minutes. Using tongs, turn and brown the opposite side, being careful not to let meatballs burn. Once at least 2 ‘sides’ are browned, add to the pot with the sauce. Once all meatballs are in the sauce, bring sauce to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook 10-12 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
4. Serve meatballs over orzo or other pasta with sauce and crumbled feta.