Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Mint Sauce with Pine Nut Couscous


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 cups crusty bread, torn
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of handfuls)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pinches allspice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 small onion, peeled, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 can crushed Italian tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (a generous handful), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint sprigs (a generous handful), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or pignoli (a generous handful), toasted


Place the lamb in a bowl. Soak the bread in the milk for a few minutes, then wring out the bread and pulse-grind it up in a food processor. Add the bread to the lamb along with the egg, cheese, salt, pepper, allspice, lemon zest and a clove of minced garlic. Use a grater to grate about 2 tablespoons of the onion into the lamb. Combine the meatball mix and roll into balls the size of walnuts, about 20 balls. 

Heat the EVOO, three turns of the pan, in a deep skillet over medium heat and add the remaining garlic and grate the remaining onion into the EVOO. Sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. When the sauce bubbles, add the meatballs and simmer for 7-8 minutes to cook through. Stir in parsley and mint and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. 

While the meatballs cook, bring the remaining stock and the butter to a simmer, add the couscous and turn off the heat. Cover and let the couscous stand for 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts to the couscous and fluff with a fork.

Serve the meatballs and sauce on a bed of couscous with nuts.

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