Once you taste the flavor that the fresh herbs, spices and vegetables give these Bite Sized Meatballs with Tomatoes and Onions, you’ll understand why most of the ground beef sold from butchers in Morocco is this seasoned beef. While the base of this go-to mix of herbs and spices almost always includes onions, parsley, cilantro, paprika, cumin, it’s common to see additions such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It’s delicious and brings a fresh, savory taste to beef however you prepare it.
I have tried several different ways of preparing these mini meatballs (I’ll probably eventually share more than one recipe since all variations are tasty!) I like this method because you end up with rich mix of tomatoes, onions, and meatballs without taking too much time to prepare it all.
I made these for a friend once and was mid-meatball rolling when she walked in the kitchen. She was surprised to see how small the meatballs were and made a comment about how I must have a lot of patience to take the time to make so many small meatballs! It surprisingly only takes a few extra minutes to end up with these tasty little bites and since they have such a small surface area, they actually cook up way faster than larger meatballs! Winning!
Unsure about the salt content in your meatballs but understandably don’t want to sample the uncooked meat?! One thing you can do is to take a small piece of the beef and cook it quickly in the sauce. Taste it and adjust your beef mixture before rolling it into balls.
The simple, light sauce starts out with possibly the best combination of vegetables in the world: onions and garlic in olive oil Once softened, I add the tomatoes which have been peeled, seeded and chopped.
I add some spices to the sauce and it reduces down a bit and then we add the beef! Once the meatballs go in the pan, crank the heat up and cook them in the sauce. You’ll want to be on standby because they cook up quickly and will need to be turned over. Remove the pan from heat as soon as the meatballs are cooked. You’ll be able to tell that they’re cooked by the color, cutting one in half or by tasting one.
I like to serve my meatballs on top of bulgur or quinoa but you can also serve them on top of rice or stuffed inside crusty bread and served alongside a fresh green salad! We had them on top of bulgur recently along with a green salad with a simple balsamic vinaigrette!
Bite Sized Meatballs with Tomatoes and Onions
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley and cilantro finely chopped
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp cumin
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
FOR THE SAUCE:
- ½ onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3-4 tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ⅛ tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- Mix together the onion, parsley, cilantro, paprika, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add salt and the beef and mix well. Form the mixture into small 1" balls. Set aside while making the sauce.
- Add the onion and garlic to a deep saucepan with the olive oil on low heat until the onions begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid from the tomatoes reduces by about half.
- Add all the meatballs to the tomato mixture and turn the heat up to medium-high. The meatballs will cook quickly so stand by and be ready to flip them over when ready. Remove from heat once the meat is cooked, top with parsley and serve.
Please note that nutritional values are created by an online calculator and should only be used as an estimate.