Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula

by0| PUBLISHED Apr 29, 2014 2:00 AM
Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula
Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula. Ingalls Photography

At the London takeaway restaurant Leon, lamb meatballs are simmered in a harissa-spiked tomato sauce, served over peppery arugula, and drizzled with bright yogurt-thickened aïoli. This recipe first appeared in our May 2014 issue with the story Desk Lunch: Global Takeout.

Yield: serves 4


  • <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup milk
  • 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> (8-inch) whole wheat pitas, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cups minced parsley
  • <sup>3</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cup minced mint
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 9 cloves garlic, 6 minced, 3 peeled and crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> tbsp. harissa
  • 2 egg yolks
  • <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup canola oil
  • <sup>3</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup roughly chopped basil
  • 8 cups baby arugula
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. Combine milk and pita in a bowl; let sit until bread is soft, about 5 minutes. Add lamb, 1 cup of the parsley, the mint, oregano, 1⁄4 of the minced garlic, salt, and pepper; mix to combine and divide into thirty-six 1-oz. balls.
  2. Heat half the olive oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook meatballs until browned, 4–6 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add remaining olive oil to pan; return to medium-high heat. Cook crushed garlic until golden, 1–2 minutes. Add tomatoes, harissa, salt, and pepper; simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, 5–7 minutes.
  3. Add reserved meatballs; cook, covered, until meatballs are tender, about 15 minutes. Whisk remaining minced garlic, the egg yolks, salt, and pepper in a bowl; while whisking, drizzle in canola oil until aïoli is emulsified. Whisk in yogurt and lemon juice; drizzle aïoli over meatballs. Garnish with remaining parsley and the basil; serve with arugula and tomatoes.