North African Meatballs

Serves 4-6


Made with Spicy Ugly Sauce



2 cups fresh cubed crusty whole wheat bread (or whatever you have on hand)
1 cup milk (whole or whatever you have on hand)
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb 
1 large egg
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, divided
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
4 tablespoons chopped scallions, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil


1 jar Ugly Spicy Sauce
6 oz spicy Tomato ‘Nduja
2 1-inch cinnamon sticks
pinch of saffron, crumbled in your fingers
4 1/2 cups water,
sea salt and pepper to taste


2 cups couscous
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Photo by Eat the Love

Photo by Eat the Love


Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the cubed bread onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the bread has dried out but not browned. While the bread is toasting prepare the sauce.

Place the oil in a large wide skillet or pot and heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic and cook until the garlic starts to turn a golden brown, about 5 minutes. Once they start to color, add the spicy Tomato ‘Nduja, cinnamon sticks and saffron. Stir and cook for about a minute, then season generously with sea salt and pepper. Add the water, stir to incorporate, cook on medium high heat until boiling. The sauce will look thin. Lower heat to a simmer and then cover while you make the meatballs, stirring occasionally.

Once the bread is toasted, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Move bread to a large bowl and drizzle milk over bread, tossing and mixing until the milk is absorbed. Add lamb, egg, garlic, sea salt and pepper and spices to bread. Add 3 tablespoons of the parsley, cilantro and scallions, reserving the 1 tablespoon each for garnish at the end. Using your hands mix and massage the mixture until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll the mixture into golf ball size meatballs then toss half the balls in the flour to coat. In a large pan, add the oil and heat until shimmering then pan fry half the meatballs, turning until they are brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. They don’t need to be completely cooked through, just brown. Move the browned meatballs to the simmering sauce, and repeat with the remaining meat, first forming the balls, then coating in flour and frying, then moving to the sauce. Increase the heat to medium and simmer the balls for 20-25 minutes or until the meatballs are tender and cooked through. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt, pepper and cayenne for more heat if you want.

While the meatballs are simmering, make the couscous as directed by the package. While the couscous and meatballs are cooking, pour boiling water over the raisins and let soak to plump up. Once the cous cous is done, drizzle the olive oil over it and then drain the raisins and add them as well. Stir together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the meatballs are done, spoon the couscous into bowls and cover with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle parsley, cilantro and scallions over the top and serve immediately.