Beef & Lamb Meatballs with Tahini Sauce

close up balls 2

Santa-like jolliness is coursing through my veins like the buzz off a good mulled wine. Visions of cheese platters and frosted snowmen cookies prance around my brain and cloud my vision as I deal with every day “important” things like work, cat food (homemade, of course– what am I, a monster??), and health insurance (l’chaim, ObamaCare). Pandora has crafted the perfectly festive musical accompaniments, Deb is motivating me to be craftier, and ugly reindeer sweaters…well, they’re just a fact of life because there isn’t a fire vast enough to burn every last one.

raw meats

In the great spirit, I give you meatballs. Standard holiday fare? Maybe not, but they make me feel cozy and happy, so they get a special spot on the holiday menus. The original recipe from Ottolenghi calls for you to bake the balls in the sauce for 5-10 minutes at the end, until browned and thickened. I found this to be lovely, but it does make the sauce very, very thick and a bit chunky. Using the tahini as a sauce post-baking gives you a less solid, more malleable product that has all the same great flavor.  We had them on a bed of sautéed chard that had been tossed with a shallot vinaigrette, lentils, and white beans, and folded into a warm pita. It was divine.

cooking balls

close up balls

Beef & Lamb Meatballs with Tahini Sauce
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16 meatballs
  • Tahini sauce:
  • ⅔ c tahini paste
  • ⅔ c water
  • 4.5 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch salt
  • Meatballs:
  • 1-2 pieces stale white bread (1.25 oz)
  • 10.5 oz ground or minced beef
  • 10.5 oz ground or minced lamb
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅔ c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 2.5 t ground allspice
  • 1.5 t cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil for frying
  • zest of ½ lemon
  1. Mix all ingredients for tahini sauce in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. If too thick, add a touch of water.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Soak the bread in cold water until very soft. Squeeze out as much water as you can and crumble into mixing bowl.
  4. Add garlic, parsley, salt, spices, and egg, and mix well. Crumble in meats and mix with your hands until just incorporated. Do not overmix!
  5. Shape into balls the size of golf balls.
  6. Heat olive oil (about ¼ way up side of a medium cast-iron pan) over medium high.
  7. Fry meatballs in batches until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels when done.
  8. Arrange in single layer on oven proof dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. If baking with the tahini sauce, take out after 5 minutes, pour evenly over meatballs, and return for 10 minutes or until brown.
  9. When done, transfer to plates, pour tahini sauce over, and sprinkle with lemon zest. Nom!

tahini sauce

close ish balls

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