Moroccan Inspired Meatball Stew

About a month ago, I threw myself into cookbooks. For someone who has never been a particular fan of recipes (except when baking), it took a tad bit of effort. Now I’m hooked and have jumped into the cookbook pool with force. I love reading them, imagining the food, and then adding my own variations (in my head of course, or on a separate piece of paper, because I check my cookbooks out through the local library). I now understand what my mother loved about Gourmet magazine. Where I used to read for the glossy pictures, she would enjoy both pictures and accompanying stories. Now – I suppose I’ll blame it on adulthood – I have the patience to do both.

I spent a good deal of time in the past few weeks with The Arab Table, by Marie Bsisu, day dreaming in lamb koftas, falafal, and baba ganoush. When it came to a dinner party with former college roommates, I wavered between traditional spaghetti and a tempting Moroccan inspired meatball stew I found perusing an old(er) Bon Appetit. Of course, it wasn’t a recipe from The Arab Table, but the influence of that cookbook on my subconscious was obviously present.

I’ve included a vegetarian variation at the end. This stew packs enough flavor that it doesn’t need the meet. I’ve also adjusted the vegetable content from the original recipe. After all, it’s still January and some of us (except maybe yours truly) are sticking to our New Years resolutions.


for the Moroccan Inspired Meatballs

1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup  grated onion

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1 large egg, beaten

1 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground ginger

Before combining the ingredients, line a cookie sheet with clear plastic wrap. In a large mixing bowl, gently combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Keeping your hands moist, roll the meatballs into about 1 and 1/2 inch balls. Line these meatballs on the baking sheet. Set aside and begin working on the stew.

for the Moroccan Inspired Stew

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 and 1/2 cups chopped onion

4 garlic cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp tumeric

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads

2 cups beef broth

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

3 cups carrots, cut on diagonal in about 1/2 inch thick slices

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

5 ounces of baby spinach, freshly washed

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic, turmeric and saffron.

2) Then add broth and tomatoes (with juice). Turn up the heat and bring the stew to a simmer. Once simmering, add in carrots.

3) Carefully add in the meatballs. Press the meatballs down into the stew to avoid breaking them apart. Add in cilantro, and cover with a lid. Place the dutch oven in the oven.

4) Bake the stew for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in spinach, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Eat over couscous or rice.

*Vegetarian Variation

Forgo the meatballs. Rather, add one large head of cauliflower, and two can of drained and rinses garbanzo beans. Rather than put the dutch oven into the the oven, simmer on the stove for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve over couscous. 

  1. This looks delicious! I really hate reading recipes for cooking as well. I like to eyeball and experiment. However, when I do use recipes, they are so delicious and everything is so balanced! I think I should follow recipes more… maybe yours will me next!


    • It was delicious (of course, most non-delicious items don’t find their way here). Recipes are great for inspiration and for flavors I might not normally marry together. My weekend cooking variety has improved since sinking into more cookbooks for inspiration…and I know I have the flexibility to tweak recipes here and there generally they will turn out okay.


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