I’ve been traveling* quite a bit lately and one of my favorite things about travel is, of course, the food! Tasting and cooking a culture’s traditional recipes and flavors is a great way to experience another culture. Food tells a story and traditional recipes are often deeply rooted in a population’s history and culture. When you get out of your comfort zone you can really start experiencing a wide variety of cuisines and flavors.
Experiencing a new cuisine is also a great reminder of how important and gratifying it can be to add diversity to your diet. Think about your go-to weekly recipes and consider how many different vegetables, spices, meats, and other ingredients you typically eat. If you’re like many of us, you can get in a food diversity rut, and start eating the same things over and over. For me, that’s cauliflower! That means you could be missing out on some important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
When you get out of your normal routine recipes, you start to realize how devoid your diet can become of antioxidant-rich spices and herbs. To remedy this, I am making an effort to add more nutrient diversity to our diet by experimenting with traditional recipes from around the globe.
This Syrian-inspired recipe is full of flavor and, equally important, has an abundance of antioxidants from spices including ceylon cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Traditionally, a muhammara sauce would be made with pomegranate molasses and breadcrumbs. However, in order to make this recipe low-carb and paleo-friendly, I’ve skipped the breadcrumbs and used pomegranate juice with a tiny bit of maple syrup (instead of the molasses).
Pro tip: If you’re going to go through all the effort to make a sauce from scratch, it’s a good idea to double or triple the recipe and freeze some for later. The muhammara freezes well for at least six weeks. I haven’t tried to freeze it for longer than that, but if you do, let me know how it goes! You can also use the delicious muhammara as a salad dressing for a bright and colorful salad.
Also, let me know what recipes you have been trying lately that add more diversity to your diet. Recipes that include more obscure vegetables, offal, and an abundance of herbs and spices are always welcome on my table!
*Follow my travels and culinary experiences on Instagram: @candaceken
Here’s what you need:
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound pasture-raised ground lamb
- 3/4 cup yellow onions, diced
- 1/2 t coconut oil or ghee (or a combination of the two)
- 2 garlic cloves, garlic, minced
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/8 t allspice
- 1/8 t cumin seeds
- 1/4 t paprika
- 1/2 t oregano
- 1/3 t sea salt
- 3 sprigs parsley
For the muhammara sauce:
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 t ground cumin
- T T pomegranate juice (optional for whole30)
- 2 t maple syrup (eliminate for whole30)
- 1/4 smoked paprika
- 2 t olive oil
- 1/8 t chili powder
- 1.5-2 t lemon juice
- 1/2 t salt
- Parsley for garnish
- 1 T Coconut oil and/or ghee for cooking the meatballs
- Lemon zest (optional)
Here’s what you do:
- Heat your cooking fat in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add your onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the lamb meatballs, including the cooled onions.
- Use a small ice cream scooper to form medium-sized meatballs (about 2 ounces each — should form about 12 meatballs).
- Heat 1 T of coconut oil and/or ghee over medium heat. When the pan is good and hot, transfer the meatballs to the skillet and brown on each side. Keep the stove on medium so that the meatballs cook evenly. Keep turning the meatballs so that they brown (and not burn) on each side. Cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for your muhammara sauce in a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth.
- When the meatballs are cooked throughout, transfer them to a serving dish and serve with the muhammara sauce on top or on the side.
- Garnish with parsley and/or lemon zest.
- The meatballs are great served with roasted sweet potatoes or cauliflower rice.
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