From my childhood in Jordan to your table, I present a fusion of kufetah-inspired meatballs, lovingly drenched in a robust fresh tomato sauce.
In my childhood in Jordan, ‘meatballs’ were not a term we used. Instead, we cherished our special kufetah—savory meatballs with a delectable fresh tomato sauce—a flavorful mix of ground lamb and beef infused with onion and parsley. Visits to the butcher with my dad were routine, where this signature blend would come to life. We’d add our chosen spices at home, setting the stage for culinary adventures.
This versatile meat mix was the star of three staple dishes from my homeland. ‘Kufetah bel bandura’ featured the meat pressed into a pan, adorned with fresh tomato and onion slices—akin to the beginnings of a traditional meatball sauce. The second variation shaped the meat into ovals and served it in a tahini yogurt sauce alongside potatoes and cauliflower. And then there were the kufetah kebabs, seasoned uniquely.
Later, I discovered the iconic ‘spaghetti and meatballs,’ reminiscent of the form and essence of our kufetah. Inspired, I began transforming our traditional kufetah mix into meatballs, adapting them for various dishes. These meatballs embraced versatility, from crowning spaghetti and rice to finding a snug spot in subs or serving as bite-sized appetizers. Today, I share a recipe that marries the rich flavors of Jordanian kufetah with the beloved texture of Italian-American meatballs and fresh tomato sauce.
Ingredients Meatballs With Fresh Tomato Sauce
For the Meatball Mixture
- Ground Lamb and Ground Beef: Offer a rich and savory base, giving the meatballs a hearty and meaty flavor.
- Sweet Onion: Adds a subtle sweetness and depth to the meat mixture.
- Italian Parsley: Infuses a fresh and herbaceous note, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Cumin, Turmeric, Aleppo Pepper, Salt, and Pepper Seasonings contribute a well-balanced blend of savory, peppery, and earthy notes to the sauce.
- Olive Oil: Used for sautéing the meatballs, adding richness and enhancing the overall mouthfeel.
Tomato Sauce Seasoning:
- Large Onion, Celery Stalks, Carrots: Create a flavorful base, offering a sweet and savory foundation for the sauce.
- Fresh Diced Tomatoes (or One Can): Provide a juicy and vibrant tomato flavor, forming the sauce base.
- Tomato Paste (Dissolved in a Cup of Warm Water): Adds depth and thickness to the sauce, intensifying the tomato flavor.
- Salt, Black Pepper, Cumin, and Turmeric: Seasonings that contribute a well-balanced blend of savory, peppery, and earthy notes to the sauce.
Pro Tips for Perfecting Your Dish
Crafting the perfect meatballs with fresh tomato sauce is an art form, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some swear by baking, others simmer in sauce, but I prefer pan-searing. It infuses the meatballs with a tantalizing crust that pairs beautifully with the rich tomato sauce. However, whether you savor them in sauce or solo, these meatballs are a delight. Now, let’s delve into some pro tips to ensure your meatballs are nothing short of perfection.
- Precision in Chopping: The finer you chop the onions and parsley, the smoother and more prosperous the meatball texture becomes.
- Savory Spice Blend: Mix spices into the meat to ensure uniformity, letting every bite tell the same flavorful story.
- Sauce Texture Choices: I have a love affair with chunkier tomato sauce, especially over rice. Yet, if silkiness is your game, blending is the way to go.
Every culture boasts its meatball variant, resulting in diverse serving suggestions. In Italian American dishes, meatballs shine atop spaghetti or nestled in sandwiches, offering a fulfilling combo of protein and carbs. But don’t stop there! While I am fond of pairing them with vermicelli rice – letting the tomato sauce enrich the fluffy grains – they also sit perfectly alongside pasta or mashed potatoes.
I would love to hear your experience!
I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you tried this recipe or made any tweaks, please leave a comment below.