Main Dish

North African Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce

Dutton Estate Winery

8757 Green Valley Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472

  • RECIPE YEAR: 2016
  • YIELD: Serves 8
  • PAIRS WELL WITH: Karmen Isabella

These tender meatballs are made with chickpea flour instead of bread crumbs, and are served with a tomato sauce that includes winter squash and toasted spices.


  • 3/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
To prepare the meatballs, in a small fry pan over medium heat, toast the chickpea flour, stirring constantly, until it is golden brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat and let cool. 

On a cutting board, mince and mash the garlic with the salt until a paste forms. In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, beef, onion, garlic paste, parsley, cilantro, pepper, cinnamon and cumin. Add the chickpea flour and mix to combine. Form into golf ball-size meatballs. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Spiced Tomato Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 dried New Mexico or other mild chile peppers, stemmed, seeded and broken or chopped into pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, 1 by 2 inches, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 piece fresh turmeric, 1/2 by 2 inches, peeded and minced (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes, whizzed briefly in a food processor
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups diced winter squash (kabocha or butternut) (1/2-inch dice)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
To prepare the sauce, in a small fry pan over medium heat, combine the coriander seeds, peppercorns, cloves and chiles. Toast, shaking or stirring gently so the spices don't burn, until fragrant. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder.

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground spice mixture, the ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes more. 

Stir in the tomatoes, water and squash and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Finishing and Serving

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Cooked couscous, farro or other whole grain or pasta for serving
  • Chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, parsley or mint, for garnish
  • Crumbled feta cheese for garnish (optional)
While the sauce is simmering, cook the meatballs: Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat and warm the olive oil. Working in batches if needed, add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Alternatively, broil the meatballs: Oil a baking sheet, place the meatballs on the prepared pan and broil, turning once or twice, until evenly browned.

When the sauce is done, add the meatballs to the simmering sauce and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serve the meatballs and sauce with couscous, farro or other whole grain or pasta. Garnish with herbs and crumbled cheese.

Dutton Estate Winery

8757 Green Valley Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472