Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs

These meatballs are not a traditional Moroccan dish, but the presence of exotic herbs and spices gives them a strong North African accent.  Our family already likes lamb, so these easy and delicious meatballs were a big hit around here.  In this recipe ricotta cheese is used in place of breadcrumbs, which makes this a gluten-free dish, and I always like that!

I served these meatballs over zucchini noodles, topped with homemade tomato sauce. Zucchini noodles are a healthy, grain-free alternative to pasta.  They are simple to make and taste great.  Cut zucchini into thin, noodle-like strips using a knife, vegetable peeler or mandolin.  To cook the “noodles,” blanch them in salted water for 2 – 3 minutes.  They can also be lightly sautéed with or without oil; I prefer to use coconut oil.

To make the tomato sauce, sauté minced garlic (2 – 3 cloves) over medium heat, add a teaspoon or two of dried basil and oregano, a bay leaf, and 3 – 4 large chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes break down; season with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the bay leave prior to serving.

Ingredients
1 lb. ground lamb
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. green onion, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Mix all the ingredients together.  Form the mixture into small balls. Use a light hand when mixing and forming the meatballs to ensure that the meat is not to compact, but rather light and tender.  Place onto a lightly oiled, rimmed baking dish.  Bake for about 30 minutes, turning once half way through.

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