Eighty percent of the time my husband and I go out to eat, we want Mediterranean food.
But then I start to look at menus, and as much as I love supporting local restaurants, I just can’t argue the fact that it’s cheaper for me to make some Mediterranean cuisines at home. Take lamb for example. At a restaurant you’ll pay anywhere between 25-40 depending on where you go. No doubt that lamb will be good and probably worth every penny, but the cost saving ninja inside of me still alerts me that I can make lamb dishes for a fraction of that price in my own kitchen.
I’ve been having odd cravings for meatballs lately, and after learning about matbucha from a friend the other day I felt confident that I could incorporate lamb meatballs into it without comprising the Mediterranean authenticity of the dish.
Typically matbucha is cooked over the stove, but this weekend was a “dirty as few dishes as possible” weekend at our house. (Aka I was just feeling a little lazy.) So I decided to alter the traditional recipes a little bit in order to roast the whole dish in the oven in one swoop.
The result was a delightfully tender and flavorful dish. And the meatballs? Let’s just say my craving was more than satisfied.
- [b]For the matbucha:[/b]
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can fired roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- [br][b]For the lamb meatballs:[/b]
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- [b]For the matbucha:[/b] Heat the oven to 425˚ F. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined, then transfer to a large casserole baking dish. Roast for 30-40 minutes until eggplant and peppers are soft. Remove from oven and turn oven temp down to 375.
- For the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix with your hands until combine. Form into balls (about the size of a tablespoon) and place on a baking sheet. While the matbucha is cooling, bake until the meat is no longer pink in the middle, about 15 minutes.