My daughter loves meatballs and I love serving them because they are one of the foods that reminds me of home (I ate a lot of meatballs in my Italian-American house growing up!), they are comforting, and they are easy to double and freeze. We typically eat regular beef meatballs (or these sausage ones), but I recently tried a version with lamb and Moroccan flavors including cumin and dried apricots to change things up a bit.
These little meatball bites are flavorful and packed with produce. The shredded onion and carrot makes them super moist, the dried apricots add a nice sweetness, and the spices add mellow flavor.
I must admit that my girl wouldn’t touch them the first time I served them because they were without sauce. Hello, obviously “meatballs need red sauce mama!”. But the second time, I wised up and served them with Veggie-Loaded Marinara Sauce and she liked them a lot better. Lamb is a nice meat choice since, if grass-fed, it’s high in good fatty acids and B vitamins. But if your kiddos aren’t used to the flavor, consider using half lamb and half ground beef—or even all beef—as a start.
Itty Bitty Moroccan Meatballs
I use my food processor to shred the onions and carrots to ensure they are fine enough to blend into the ground meat.
1 pound ground lamb
1 small onion, finely shredded
1 small carrot, finely shredded
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup dried apricots, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup cornmeal
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place the lamb, onion, carrot, cumin, parsley, egg, cheese, apricots, and salt in a medium bowl. Use (clean) hands to combine thoroughly. Add in just enough cornmeal to make a mixture that’s easy to work with and holds the shape of a ball easily.
2. Form into 1/2-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Drain on paper towels and serve plain or in your favorite marinara sauce.
Use breadcrumbs (plain or Italian) instead of cornmeal.
Skip the dried apricots if you don’t have any on hand.
Use half lamb and half beef for a milder flavor.