Sheet Pan Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

December 9, 2015


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

Ingredients

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)
In This Recipe

Directions

  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.

More Great Recipes:
Meatball|Middle Eastern|Cauliflower|Lamb|Cumin|Fennel|Molasses|Parsley|Pomegranate|Yogurt|One-Pot Wonders|Sheet Pan

Reviews (21) Questions (0)

21 Reviews

Xtinabytes July 30, 2017
I made this again with a purple cauliflower and the vivid colors were Instagram worthy!
 
Xtinabytes May 23, 2017
This was fast, easy, delicious and guilt free!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC May 24, 2017
Wonderful! : )
 
MMH February 27, 2017
This is just purely excellent. We loved it. My daughter is 16 and loves all cuisines. But this is a great recipe to involve kids and teach them about other cultures. Plus anything that involves hands is a great way to cook with kids. Even though my daughter is 16, she still loves scoring the pomegranate, submerging it in water and working out the seeds. Just a great way to involve kids in cooking. Thanks for this. We will make it again for sure!!!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC February 28, 2017
I'm so, so happy that this turned out well for you, and you're right, it's a good, simple recipe to make with children! Thanks so much for your nice note.
 
Transcendancing March 19, 2016
These were excellent, really enjoyed this for dinner and it was *so* easy and came together quickly. Will definitely make these again!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC February 28, 2017
Not sure how I missed your comment, but thank you for trying the meatballs and circling back!!
 
Jeanne K. January 18, 2016
Made these with a few variations: added 1/4 chopped pistachios, 1 tbsp dried mint, and a Moroccan spice rub instead of the cumin and Aleppo pepper. Also added an extra tbsp of yogurt and they were super tender :) Broiled eggplant instead of cauliflower afterwards, which soaked up the fat beautifully.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC January 19, 2016
Love the idea of eggplant with the lamb! Thanks so much for trying this and circling back!
 
Transcendancing March 19, 2016
I'll have to try this variation (though I'll keep the cauliflower) - it sounds awesome!<br />
 
dgrolle January 17, 2016
Seriously quite a great recipe! And quick. Perfect for week night cookin! Also like the idea of doing spins on the original recipe :)
 
Author Comment
EmilyC January 19, 2016
Thanks, dgrolle! If you end up doing any variations on the recipe, let me know!
 
Deb M. January 14, 2016
Are the cumin and fennel seed ground, or are they left whole?
 
Author Comment
EmilyC January 14, 2016
Left whole!
 
Deb M. January 14, 2016
Thanks! I'll be making these soon:)
 
Author Comment
EmilyC January 14, 2016
Great -- hope you like it!
 
luvcookbooks December 30, 2015
I tested this recipe for Community Picks and can't wait to tell you it was delicious! I did everything but the garnish ( because I was so hungry I just wanted to eat) and loved it, as did the other omnivores in the family. I am already dreaming about how to make it on a weekend, when it can be garnished and plated more genteelly.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC December 30, 2015
Oh I'm so happy to know that you tested and liked this!! Thanks so much Meg! It's good to know that the dish stands up well without the garnishes, as I've only made this as written. Thanks again and Happy New Year!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC December 30, 2015
ps -- I think this same technique would lend itself to other kinds of meatballs and vegetables -- such as pork meatballs with broccoli or rapini. Food for thought! : )
 
LE B. December 26, 2015
em, you did such a tremendous job with this dish! I love the inclusion of the Aleppo Pepper and fennel seed, and of course, the pomegranate. (But no way am I going to ruin that delicious sauce w/ tahini when I want it to fully play the acid counterpart to the rich spicy meatballs.but I'm prob a minority here.)<br />At any rate, Congrats on your well-deserved recognition here! Since you like tahini, I wondered if you might already know about 2 tahini sweets that I love- both served in Ana Sortun's restaurants here. One is a tahini caramel sauce<br />that is an optional topping on a frozen plain yoghurt; the other is a sesame tahini shortbread. Grist for the Mill....!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC December 29, 2015
Thanks! I'm not familiar with those two sweets but they sound delicious; I'm a fan of Ana Sortun and have her cookbook. I love a small amount of tahini mixed in with yogurt. So do my kids...they will eat practically any vegetable or meat if they can dip it in tahini yogurt!