Sheet Pan Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

By • December 9, 2015 15 Comments

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Author Notes: Even though I cook a lot, I never seem to have enough good weeknight recipes in my arsenal. I came up with this one as a way to have meatballs during the week. The lamb meatballs are boldly flavored, and mixing in a dollop of yogurt keeps them tender. They cook in about 10 minutes under the broiler, then the cauliflower, drizzled with pomegranate molasses to help it caramelize quickly, follows on the same sheet pan and soaks up all of the delicious drippings. A quick mix of yogurt, tahini, and pomegranate molasses serves as the sauce. Low effort; huge reward.EmilyC

Food52 Review: Meltingly tender lamb meatballs, combined with the refreshing brightness of pomegranate, were a huge hit in our house—no small feat with 4 kids (ages 16 to 26) and a travel-weary husband. As an on-demand chef, I loved how easily it came together and how well it worked for our staggered meal schedule. Other root vegetables, like carrots, might work just as well as the cauliflower, and 2% or higher fat yogurt is a must. A double batch was barely enough for 6 people (but that is often the case for us). Overall, this recipe is now in my go-to file! Allison


Serves 4

For lamb meatballs:

  • 1 pound (454 grams) ground lamb
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon regular or Greek yogurt (2% or full-fat recommended)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
  • Olive oil, for greasing pan and brushing meatballs

For cauliflower, tahini-yogurt sauce, and rest of dish:

  • 1 large head (2 to 2 1/2 pounds; 907 to 1134 grams) cauliflower, broken into small florets about 1/2-inch wide
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for thinning sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses, divided
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup regular or Greek yogurt (2% or full-fat recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate arils (can be omitted when not in season)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds (optional)
  1. Heat broiler and place top oven rack below heat source.
  2. In a large bowl, combine lamb, Aleppo pepper, cumin seed, fennel seed, salt, egg, yogurt, garlic, and parsley. Mix together with your hands until well-combined.
  3. Shape lamb into small meatballs, about 2 tablespoons each or 1 1/2-inches in size, and place them on an oiled-rimmed baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of each meatball with olive oil. Broil meatballs about 7 to 10 minutes, flipping them once, until they’re browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer meatballs to a serving platter; cover with foil to keep them warm.
  4. Add cauliflower to the same sheet pan with the lamb drippings, along with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or as needed to generously coat), cumin seed, 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (drizzled evenly over the cauliflower), and kosher salt to taste. Toss well and spread cauliflower in a single, even layer. Return pan to broiler, and broil cauliflower for 3 to 6 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until tender and caramelized.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together yogurt, tahini, the remaining 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses, and enough olive oil to thin the sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. To serve, place the cauliflower and meatballs on a large serving dish, and scatter the parsley leaves, pomegranate arils, and almonds (if using) over the top. Serve the yogurt sauce on the side.

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