Monday, March 18, 2013

Moroccan Flavored Meatballs with Pita, Tomatoes, and Cucumber

Are you ready for March Madness?

I have THE PERFECT party platter for you to make while watching all the exciting games.  These little babies are small but mighty!  They pack a lot of flavor into a bite sized portion.  Meatballs that are flavored with Moroccan spices are just perfect tucked inside some bite sized pita breads.  

I picked up the mini pitas at Trader Joe's, but if you can't find them, you could use lavash, flatbread, or large pitas or even roll them in tortillas, cut into bite sized portions.  They go perfect with a spicy dipping sauce made with yogurt and Harrisa, which is like a hot sauce traditional to Morocco.  Again, any hot sauce will do. 

These are like mini sliders, Moroccan style.  So cute, yet very filling.  They are terrific with the tomatoes and cucumbers.  Something cool to counter the spicy flavors.  

The meatballs are not hot with spice, so ideal for the whole family.  Although the yogurt sauce can be so you can adjust the heat to your liking.  Trust me, the whole family will enjoy these.  A great way to get your kids involved in cooking by shaping the meatballs.  They are so much fun to eat, we just loved them!

Moroccan Flavored Meatballs with Pita, Tomatoes, and Cucumber 

Makes about 1 dozen mini meatballs

4 T olive oil, divided
¼ small yellow onion, minced
½ lb ground sirloin
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
2 T mint leaves, minced
1 T panko bread crumbs
½ t ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ t salt
¼ t ground pepper
½ cup plain yogurt
1 t harissa or other hot sauce
Mini pita bread rounds
1 cucumber sliced thin
Cherry tomatoes, halved

In a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. 

In a bowl add onion, sirloin, egg, parsley, mint, bread crumbs, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix gently to incorporate all ingredients.  Shape into small meatballs a little smaller than a ping pong ball. 

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and working in batches cook the meatballs until crispy and brown.  Turn half way through cooking, cook about 6-8 minutes.   Add remaining oil and cook remaining meatballs. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. 

Meanwhile make the yogurt sauce by combining yogurt and harissa or hot sauce in a small bowl and stirring to combine.  Set aside.

Arrange sliced cucumbers around platter creating a border.  Place halved cherry tomatoes on both ends just overlapping the cucumbers.  Cut mini pitas in half.  To assemble:  Take one half pita and place a meatball inside and top with a dollop of yogurt sauce.  Place pitas in the center of the platter and serve.

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