The Tastiest Meatballs with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Growing up in Jordan, we didn’t know the term ‘meatballs.’ We always called them kufetah. My dad would go to the butcher, and he would prepare them for you. It was a mixture of ground lamb with ground beef and onion and parsley. Then you take it home and add your spices, and it’s ready to cook! 

Usually, there are three main dishes we use this ground meat mix for. One is to flatten and press it in a large round pan and top it with sliced tomatoes and onions; this dish is called kufetah bel bandura. The second dish is to shape them into an oval shape and then cook with tahini yogurt sauce with potatoes and cauliflower. The final dish is to make kufetah kebabs by adding different spices. 

When I got introduced to spaghetti and meatballs, I immediately thought they were similar to our kufetah. It is round and much denser but has a similar concept. Since then, I got hooked on making the kufetah mix into a meatball and serving it in various ways. I made kufetah and would put it over spaghetti, and rice. I also used them for meatball subs or would make them smaller and bake them by themselves to eat as an appetizer. 

The following recipe is my unique take on spaghetti and meatballs. This recipe combines flavors of kufetah from Jordan and the texture of Italian-American meatballs. 

Tips for This Meatball Recipe 

Try to chop the onions and parsley very small, so they will have a homogenous texture and simply provide taste to the meatballs. When you mix the spices with meat, work the mixture until all is incorporated smoothly. I like my tomato sauce a little chunky when I serve it over rice. You could also blend it into a smoother sauce.  

How to Cook Meatballs 

There are plenty of meatball recipes with all different ways to cook them. They can be baked, simmered in sauce, or even pan-fried. I like to sear the meatballs in a frying pan. This helps to seal all the flavors and get a crispy crust on the meatballs before adding them to the sauce. Once the seared meatballs are simmered in tomato sauce, the sauce has an amazing flavor that will make you want to lick the sauce off the plate! Of course, if you just want to enjoy crispy meatballs, you can also skip the sauce and eat the pan-fried meatballs as a snack. 



Adjust Servings
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
1 sweet onion (chopped small)
½ bunch Italian parsley (chopped)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
3 tablespoon olive oil
For the Tomato Sauce
1 large onion (chopped)
2 celery stalks (chopped)
3 carrots (chopped)
5 cups fresh diced tomatoes or a can
3 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in one cup of warm water
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 bay leaves


Mix the ingredients for the meatball all together and form into a giant meatball. They should be about 3.5 oz each.
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Over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven pot, add the olive oil, work in two batches, add the meatball and sear from all sides, then put them aside on a separate plate.
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In the same pot, add the onion and sauté for two minutes. Then add the chopped celery and carrots. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add all the spices, mix and sauté for another 2 minutes.
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Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
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Using a hand blender, emulsify the mixture into your favorite thickness.
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Bring the pot back to simmer for another 15 minutes, add the meatballs and cook for 10 minutes more until the meatballs are cooked.
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Serve the meatballs over vermicelli rice (link) or spaghetti and enjoy!
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What to Serve With Meatballs?
Almost every country has its own version of meatballs, so there is no surprise that there are plenty of different ways you can serve meatballs. In Italian American cuisine, meatballs are served in a meatball sandwich or over spaghetti for a protein and carb-dense meal. They can also be served with any kind of pasta or rice. I love to serve them with vermicelli rice since the tomato sauce and flavor of meat absorb into the delicious fluffy rice. You can also serve them with mashed potatoes and a jam like the Swedish. Meatballs are delicious and can be served with nearly anything, so get creative and see what you like best.
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How to Store Meatballs?
Cooked meatballs can stay in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. You can also freeze cooked meatballs in a freezer-safe container and heat them up whenever you are craving meatballs. Meatballs can stay in the freezer for up to 2 months, so make sure to label the date on the container.
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How to Reheat Frozen Meatballs?
If the meatballs were frozen with the sauce, let them defrost and heat them in a pot or large saucepan. If the meatballs were frozen after they were seared, let them defrost and heat them in a large skillet.
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