Ottolenghi (like the Rose Bakery) is one of those restaurants I was obsessed with before even going to London. My sisters and I gave each other copies of the cookbooks Jerusalem, Ottolenghi and Plenty for multiple holidays and birthdays and I’m pretty sure we’ve covered most recipes between the four of us.
Although Yotam Ottolenghi is most famous for his vegetarian food – which is actually good because he’s not scared of fat, carbs or spices – I love his meat recipes too. Full of Middle Eastern spices, these gluten-free lamb meatballs have great flavor which, together with the peppers, onions and tahini sauce, form a different type of fajita. Inspired to use ground lamb by my meat CSA, these little meatballs are great both on and off the tortilla.
WHY THEY’RE HEALTHY// We outline the importance of buying quality, organic and pastured meat in our post “Why Grass-Fed Meat is Better for Everyone.” Quality lamb is a good source of protein, B vitamins and zinc, which is essential for the immune system. One cup of bell peppers provides almost 120 milligrams of vitamin C, which is important for healthy skin, gums, teeth and blood vessels. As discussed in our Cinnamon Tahini Truffles post, tahini contains fiber, protein and some calcium. It also contains the unsaturated fat omega-3 fatty acid, which lowers cholesterol and fights inflammation. Tahini is also great for your immune system; it contains zinc, iron, copper and selenium. Instead of the usual wheat binder, these meatballs use brown rice, which makes them gluten-free.//
I served these lamb meatballs on gluten-free organic corn tortillas, but they would be amazing stuffed inside a pita, on a salad (with tahini dressing) or on their own with a side veggie.
- 3 bell peppers, sliced into strips
- 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cooked brown rice (I used brown sushi rice for stickiness)
- 1 tablespoon baharat spice mix (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cups chopped onion
- 7 oz ground lamb (preferably pastured, organic)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill
- pinch of sugar or ½ teaspoon honey (optional)
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ground pepper to taste
- corn tortillas or pitas (optional)
- chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- ⅓ cup tahini paste
- ¼ cup water (more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss the peppers and onion in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 30-40 minutes until the edges begin to brown.
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll meatball mixture into balls, about two teaspoons per meatball.
- Once the peppers are done bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and stir, adding more water if needed to get the sauce to the consistency of honey.
- Baharat spice blend can be bought or made. Here is a slightly modified version of Ottolenghi's recipe. If you don't have all these spices, simply omit and proceed with what you have.
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg