It’s fall y’all, and this recipe is perfect for tailgating, Sunday supper, or cozying up on the sofa and watching your favorite shows!

Meatballs in a red sauce are a classic combo that pops up in cuisines all over the world, from Italian pork meatballs in marinara sauce to Spanish albóndigas in chunky romesco sauce. Although meatballs are not a traditional dish of Morocco, the presence of mint, parsley, cinnamon and cumin in these gives them a strong North African accent.

If your forward thinking enough to  make a double batch of these meatballs, you’ll have leftovers for a quick weeknight meal later this month.  The tomato sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. The meatballs can be formed and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours before transferring to a sealable plastic bag. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

Adapted From William Sonoma

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-inch (5-cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves

For the meatballs

  • Olive oil for greasing
  • 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) ground lamb or lean grass fed ground beef
  • 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 oz./280 g) Israeli couscous


To make the tomato sauce, in a saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and sauté just until the ginger and garlic are soft and the spices are toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and the brown sugar. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce darkens in color and thickens a bit, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the mint. Reduce the heat to low and cover to keep warm.

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

In a bowl, combine the lamb, parsley, egg, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic powder and oregano. Using your hands, mix gently until combined (do not overmix). Season well with salt and pepper. Form the lamb mixture into meatballs about the size of a golf ball, arranging them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet as you work. Transfer to the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, cook the couscous according to the package directions. Cover to keep warm.

Spoon the couscous, tomato sauce and meatballs into shallow bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Tip: Feel free to serve the meatballs on top of your favorite mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, polenta, quinoa, or grits, if couscous is not your thing.

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