Tahini, a common ingredient in Israeli dishes, is made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds. In this recipe from our friends at The Nosher, you will learn to make a tahini sauce to pour over meatballs.
2 pounds chopped beef or combination of beef and veal or beef and lamb
2 eggs, whisked
1 medium onion, minced or grated*
½ cup fresh parsley, stems removed and chopped. Reserve 1 Tbs for garnish.
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
6-8 twists of black pepper (ground)
8 cloves garlic, minced. Reserve 1 tsp for tehina (see recipe below).
½ cups bread crumbs
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or chopped tomato
3 Tbsp canola oil (for frying)
1 ½ cups tahini paste
4 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed (save some zest for garnish)
1 cup cold water
1 Tbsp (reserved) fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish for serving
First, make the meatballs. Place chopped beef in a large bowl. Add grated onion, eggs, parsley, garlic, all dried seasonings and bread crumbs. Mix meat gently until well-integrated. Do not over-mix. (Grated onion integrates better into meatballs than chopped onion. Be sure to use the juice that collects when grating. The extra liquid helps to keep meatballs soft.)
Form into meatballs, rolling between your palms and dampening your hands if the meat sticks. Flatten meatballs with back of a tablespoon to facilitate more even cooking.
Heat oil to medium/high in large cast iron or nonstick pan.
Fry meatballs 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn and brown second side. Do not crowd meatballs in pan. Fry in 2-3 batches as needed.
Remove meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.
Next, make the tahini sauce. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended. The texture should be very loose, almost watery.
Next, preheat the broiler.
In an ovenproof casserole (Pyrex 10×16 or 2 casseroles) pour 1 cup blended tahini into bottom of pan (or pans) and nestle meatballs into pans. Meatballs should be in one layer. Pour remaining tahini over the meatballs.
Place chopped tomatoes on top of meatballs and scatter into the tahini (this doesn’t have to be perfect). Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes until tomatoes begin to sizzle.
Serve meatballs directly from the oven, sprinkled with remaining parsley and lemon zest.
Serving suggestions: Tahini will turn a bit golden and appear thickened after being exposed to the broiler. Fear not! Once you spoon the sauce it will be deliciously runny. Serve these meatballs over brown rice or couscous and enjoy the broiled tomatoes. For a complete meal, serve with chopped Israeli style salad or wok your favorite green veggie (broccoli, bok choy or spinach) and serve alongside these delicious meatballs.