Think you are not a fan of lamb? These lamb meatballs are plump, juicy and served with a sweet and tangy tomato pomegranate sauce to mop up with a baguette. Find more of my pomegranate recipes.
I grew up eating lamb. From stews to kabobs, lamb is one of the favorite meats to cook with in Persian cuisine. But I know that not everyone is a fan of the lamb flavor as I am. My kids also love eating lamb. I’ve prepared grilled leg of lamb for them as well as lamb burgers, and they just love it.
So when I find lamb at the grocery store, even my middle eastern market, I quickly pick some up. Today’s recipe uses ground lamb. And instead of lamb burgers or kabob, I decided to make another favorite: Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Pomegranate Sauce.
The flavors of lamb meatballs
Since I was preparing these lamb meatballs for a holiday party, I knew I wanted to bring in some of my favorite fall flavors into this dish. Since lamb is a mediterranean favorite, I decided to pair it with another favorite, a sweet and sour pomegranate tomato sauce.
I chose herbs and spices that would compliment the pomegranate sauce. So that included cinnamon, cumin, parsley, mint and green onions. As I mixed the meat together with the other ingredients, I could totally smell the herbs and spices fill my kitchen.
One trick to enhance the flavors in these lamb meatballs, is to let the meat mixture sit for an hour or two so that the flavors could meld together. At minimum, let the lamb mixture sit for at least 30 minutes.
Can I bake these lamb meatballs?
Once the lamb mixture sat in the refrigerator for an hour or two, it was time to roll them up. Since I was making these for my pomegranate party, I made these a day ahead of the big event. You can also roll the lamb meatballs, place them on a baking sheet and then cover with plastic wrap to cook the next day.
When it comes to cooking meatballs, whether they are for Italian spaghetti or these mediterranean lamb meatballs, I go between pan frying and baking them. Both methods work very well for this recipe.
If pan frying, add some olive oil and cook the meatballs in the hot oil until it is browned all over. To bake in the oven, just place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 425ºF for 15-20 minutes, or until the lamb meatballs are browned.
How to make tomato pomegranate sauce
Just as the lamb meatballs were made a day before my pomegranate event, the tomato pomegranate sauce was also made in advanced. Again, by allowing the pomegranate sauce to sit overnight gives the sauce time to absorb and meld all of the wonderful flavors.
This mediterranean sweet and sour sauce is made with tomatoes, vegetable stock, pomegranate juice, honey, garlic, lemon juice, cinnamon and cumin. It is such an aromatic and delicious sauce that really tasted incredible with my lamb meatballs.
Now some of my friends were skeptical. They wouldn’t try the meatballs at first because they believed that they always “hated lamb.” But these lamb meatballs changed all of that and they fell in love with this dish.
Our perceptions on foods and our likes and dislikes are always changing and evolving. Just because you had a bad experience with one type of food doesn’t mean you won’t like it in a different form. It’s a great lesson for ourselves to be more adventurous with our food, but also for our kids.
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1/4 cup green onions
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 TBS cornstarch
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
- 1 TBS chopped fresh mint
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 2 cup vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 3 TBS honey
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl, using your hands combine lamb, green onions, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin, salt, pepper cornstarch, egg, parsley and mint until fully incorporated.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add tomatoes, vegetable stock, pomegranate juice, honey, garlic, tomato paste, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp cumin.
- Using a hand blender, purée tomatoes, leaving some tomato chunks intact.
- Bring tomato sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and scoop out 1 TBS of the lamb mixture.
- Roll in your hands to form the meatball shape and place on the lined baking sheet.
- Dip your hands frequently in a bowl of water to keep your hands damp, and to prevent the meatball mixture from sticking to you.
- You will make approximately 30 meatballs.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
- Working in batches, place about a third of the meatballs into the hot skillet.
- Brown each side of the meatball, gently rotating them every 3 minutes.
- Place browned meatballs onto a plate lined with paper towels.
- After meatballs drain, gently place them into the tomato sauce.
- Continue browning meatballs until they are all cooked.
- Simmer meatballs in the tomato sauce for an additional 40 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thick.
- Meatballs and sauce can be served at this point, or they can be refrigerated and reheated before serving.
You can also bake the meatballs in the oven instead of pan frying them. Just roll them up and place on a baking sheet and bake at 425ºF for 15-20 minutes, or until browned.
Serving Suggestions: This is a great recipe to make in advance and to reheat in the crock pot. Serve as an appetizer alone or with some crusty bread.
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Serving Size:2 meatballs
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 136 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 42mg Sodium: 337mg Carbohydrates: 9g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 9g