Knock-off Leon Moroccan Meatballs

August  8, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 6 - 8
Author Notes

Funny you should focus on meatballs this week. I was just in London and had a wonderful lunch of moroccan meatballs at "healthy fast-food chain" Leon. My girls (9 and 11) and I fell in love. They were tasty and very addictive, so as soon as I got home I pulled the Leon cookbook out. With a few adjustments I made meatballs so delicious that my daughters asked for them two meals in a row. - cheryl —cheryl

Test Kitchen Notes

This dish appeases kids and delights adults. The meatballs were extremely tender, and flavorful enough to stand on their own. The subtle sauce was exponentially more interesting when the mix of canned and fresh tomatoes, the harissa’s heat, some sauteed garlic sweetness, and the earthy herbs were allowed to meld for even an hour or two. I highly recommend rounding out the meal with jasmine rice and Lizthechef’s Creamy Cucumber Side. - cheese1227 —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Meatballs
  • 2 slices of sandwich bread
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced to paste
  • salt and pepper
  • Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 very large tin of tomato sauce, I used 749 grams
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon prepared harissa
  • 1 handful basil, chopped
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Soak bread in milk for 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Mash into bready paste. Then add lamb and all other ingredients, mixing well.
  3. Roll mixture into very small bite sized meatballs.
  4. Now start the sauce. Heat olive oil and gently fry garlic in tall sauce pan over medium to low heat.
  5. Add tomatoes (fresh and tined) and harrissa to garlic. Simmer for 25 -30 minutes.
  6. In a grill pan or deep skillet quickly brown meatballs. You may need to make a couple of rounds to prevent over crowding. Do not fully cook meatballs, just give them a nice charred color.
  7. Spoon meatballs into simmering sauce an continue simmering for an additional 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in herbs just before serving.
  9. Meatballs can be served over a nice bed of pilaff rice with a little greek yogurt and herby sweet slaw or better yet for lunch serve on split roll with melted provolone cheese and slaw.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • cheryl
  • lastnightsdinner
  • lapadia

4 Reviews

cheryl August 12, 2010
They are terrific. The kids kept asking for them until all leftovers were consumed too! That's a nice feeling.
lastnightsdinner August 9, 2010
Love these flavors - your meatballs sound terrific!
cheryl August 8, 2010
Beef would work great too. Lamb does give it that "Moroccan lamby kick".
Thanks for input!
lapadia August 8, 2010
Love the seasonings...would need to sub with beef (not a lamb person), thanks for sharing!