Meatballs with Aïoli and Arugula

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Meatballs with Aïoli and Arugula is a Moroccan national favorite dish. Be sure to use lamb meat!

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Meatballs with Aïoli and Arugula Recipe-

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1-½ oat bran and whole wheat pitas loaves, torn into 1” pieces
  • 2 lb. ground lamb meat
  • 1½ cups minced fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 11 large cloves garlic, peeled, 7 minced, 4 crushed
  • course sea salt and black peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz. canned whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed
  • 1-½ tbsp. harissa paste (a must have ingredient, for authentic Moroccan results)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup safflower oil
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup rough-chopped fresh basil
  • 8 cups baby-picked arugula (another must have ingredient)
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pita pieces with the milk and let sit until the pita is saturated and soft—about 5 minutes should do it.
  2. Add the ground lamb, the oregano, the mint, 1 cup of the parsley, ¼ of the minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix and combine thoroughly, and then divide the seasoned bread/meat mixture into thirty-six balls, about 1 ounce apiece
  3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and, working in batches, sauté the meatballs for 5 to 6 minutes, until nicely browned (they won’t be well done on the inside yet), and then transfer to a platter and set aside.
  4. Put the rest of the olive oil into pan, still at medium-high heat, and fry the crushed garlic until fragrant and golden, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add in harissa, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Adjust the heat to where the mixture is at a lively simmer, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the sauce is until is slightly thickened.
  6. Now put the meatballs back in the pan, put a lid on the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the meatballs are well done and tender.
  7. While meatballs are cooking, make your aïoli.
  8. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining minced garlic, the egg yolks, salt, and pepper (to taste). As you whisk, drizzle in some safflower oil, whisking and drizzling as needed until your aïoli is emulsified.
  9. Now whisk in the lemon juice and yogurt, combine all ingredients completely, and then drizzle your aïoli over the meatballs.
  10. To assemble your Meatballs with Aïoli and Arugula dish and serve, create a bed of arugula on a large, attractive serving platter; put the aïoli-drizzled meatballs on top of the arugula, then the halved cherry tomatoes, dispersed evenly throughout the meatballs, and garnish with basil and the remaining parsley.