Moroccan Meatball Tagine on Couscous

  • Yield 4 to 6 servings

A heady combination of vegetables, spices, and ground lamb meatballs.


“Moroccan cuisine owes much of its intriguing flavors to deft combinations of piquant spices and fragrant herbs. The word “tagine” refers to both the Moroccan stew and the cooking utensil that is used to make it. While a tagine pot is a colorful addition to your kitchen (and the cone-shaped lid distributes steam to keep the meat moist during long cooking), this deliciously aromatic meatball stew can be made just as easily in a Dutch oven.”—Rick Rodgers


1 large egg
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 -- garlic cloves, crushed through a press
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 -- garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 -- (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
2 cups canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 -- (19-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-- Hot cooked couscous, for serving
-- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


  1. To make the meatballs, whisk the egg and tomato paste together in a medium bowl to dissolve the tomato paste. Add the lamb, onion, bread crumbs, cilantro, garlic, salt, and cayenne and mix well until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the lamb mixture into 18 equal meatballs. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over medium heat. In batches, add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, return the meatballs to the plate.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the Dutch oven and heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring up the browned bits in the pot with a wooden spatula, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and cayenne, then the tomatoes and their juices and the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the meatballs and garbanzo beans and cover. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon the couscous into bowls. Add the meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot.
Reprinted with permission from Rick Rodgers' I Love Meatballs (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011). 



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