Tomato sauce isn't really my thing and as a result neither is Italian food. I'm constantly looking for ways to "Middle Eastify" foods my Italian-food-loving husband loves, and this one was a wild success. The flavors, both in the meatballs and in the sauce, truly warm you up from the inside out, like a big warm hug on a cold day. Make these on the coldest winter day when you're craving a big ol' bowl of comfort.
Makes 15-18 small meatballs
For the meatballs:
1.5 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 tablespoon Ras-el-Hanout spice mix
1/2 tablespoon Kebab spice mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons Harissa paste*
*you may need more or less, depending on your spice preference. I like mine quite spicy and recommend this much for spice lovers. Some of the heat cooks out, so do go a little spicier than you normally would. If heat is not your thing, feel free to omit the Harissa altogether.
1. Place meat in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl, combine the two spice mixtures. Pour the combined spice mixture over the meat and add the egg. Use your hands to combine until just fully incorporated, making sure not to overwork the meat.
3. Form the meat mixture into small meatballs, cover and set aside.
4. Get started on your sauce: Heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in a medium size pot (it should be large enough to hold all your meatballs.) Add the diced onion, minced garlic and sugar and stir. Cook until the onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes, stirring often.
5. While the onions cook, make your spice mixture for the sauce by combining all the spices, besides the Harissa paste, in a small bowl.
6. Once the onions have browned add in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need a little more water; if you don't think there is enough liquid to cover all your meatballs, add a little more water. Now, add in your spice mixture and stir well to combine. Lastly, add in your Harissa paste one tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go to adjust to your heat preference.
7. Add in your meatballs one at a time, placing them gently and making sure they are covered in sauce.
8. Cover the pot and bring the sauce to a boil and boil for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from the heat and serve over your favorite pasta or Shirataki noodles.