lamb meatballs with pistachio couscous

Posted on July 31, 2014

The first time I had cinnamon in a savory dish was my 18th birthday. I had chosen to go out to a Moroccan restaurant in Sacramento with my family, plus Jordan and my cousin Katie and her then boyfriend-now fiance Scott. Unfortunately, I was also a vegetarian at the time and Moroccan cuisine is decidedly not vegetarian-friendly. It was a meal of meat, meat, and more meat. One of the dishes that I did tentatively sample was chicken bastilla, a pie made with a filling of ground chicken and spices wrapped in a phyllo dough crust. I remember being both confused and intrigued by the savory chicken filling topped with the lightest dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Cinnamon doesn’t often venture out of sweet territory in the dishes I usually cook, but I must admit it really is quite good when it does.  This couscous recipe was inspired by a recipe in David Lebovitz’s new book My Paris Kitchen. The warmth of the cinnamon goes wonderfully with the brightness of the lemon and the nuttiness of the pistachios. When pared with the very savory lamb meatballs, it is fantastic meal. It’s also quick to prepare. The couscous will cook in about 10 minutes and the same with the lamb. With just a bit of chopping and mixing for prep, you’ve got dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

lamb-meatballs-couscous-3

Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Pistachio Couscous
For the lamb meatballs
1 lbs ground lamb
1/4 onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
plain yogurt for serving

For the couscous
1 cup israeli couscous
2 tablespoons butter
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
fresh ground pepper and salt

lamb-meatballs-couscous-2

Combine ground lamb, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir with your hands to combine and then shape into small patties, about 2 inches across. Cover and then refrigerate. Feel free to make the lamb patties the night before.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the couscous and cook according to the package directions. Drain the couscous and put it into a large bowl. Add the butter, lemon zest and juice, pistachios, cinnamon, and parsley, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

Heat a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil in a cast iron pan over high heat. Cook the lamb meatballs about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through. Medium is probably what you’re aiming for.

Serve the couscous with lamb meatballs and a salad if you like. Add a dollop of plain yogurt on top of the lamb if you have any on hand. Enjoy!

-Emily

lamb-meatballs-couscous-1