Algerian-Style Meatballs With Chickpeas is the kind of one-pan meal I like to throw together when the evening’s just cool enough to have dinner on the porch — and not just because its preparation allows for 10 minutes or so to enjoy a refreshing beverage.
The meatball mix is garlicky and nicely spiced, made lighter-tasting by using ground turkey instead of beef or lamb. Meatballs typically require chilling time so they’ll hold their shape, but we’re keeping it low-key and casual here. Translation: As you turn them in the pan to brown them on all sides, the dish will not suffer if your spheres morph into lesser shapes.
Chickpeas, concentrated tomato essence and sauteed onion bolster the easy sauce; those ingredients account for the original recipe’s “Algerian-style” reference. (The minutes of simmering once the meatballs are returned to the pan will give you enough time to have that glass of something mentioned above!)
Toasted almonds with tons of curly parsley add a little crunch to each bite. I’ve eaten this dish on its own, stuffed into warm pitas and atop couscous, with equal delight.
Algerian-style Meatballs with Chickpeas
This is guaranteed to satisfy the garlic lovers at your table. The original recipe for these meatballs is enhanced with a teaspoon of ground turmeric, which gives them a lovely color and aroma. So, please, add it if you happen to have it on hand. Serve with quinoa or couscous.
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic (some large and small)
- 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- One 14 1/2-ounce can low-sodium chickpeas, drained
- 1 bunch curly parsley, rinsed and dried
- Generous handful of sliced almonds
Cut the onion into small dice, to yield about 1 cup.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic and place half of it in a mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, egg, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, the 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous pinch of the black pepper. Dampen your hands with water, then use them to gently mix until just blended. Shape the mixture into 24 meatballs of equal size; they will be soft, so don’t worry too much about perfectly round shapes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sauteed onion to a plate; leaving some oil in the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high; add half the meatballs and cook until they have browned all over, about 5 minutes; they will not be cooked through.
Transfer to the plate with the onion and repeat with the remaining meatballs (you won’t need to add more oil for the second batch), also transferring them to the plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of oil; once it’s warmed through, add the remaining minced garlic, the remaining teaspoon of ground cumin and the paprika. Cook for 1 minute, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds.
Return all the meatballs and sauteed onion to the pan, then add the chickpeas and enough water to barely cover the meatballs. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the meatballs are tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the meatballs evenly moist.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the parsley. Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, until fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool.
Use the slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to a serving dish; if a few chickpeas come along, that’s okay. Increase the heat to medium-high to cook the sauce until slightly thickened, an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Feel free to mash some chickpeas to further thicken the sauce, if you wish. Or add a bit more water if the sauce is too thick.
Taste, and season with more salt, as needed. Pour the sauce and chickpeas over the meatballs. Scatter the parsley and almonds on top. Serve hot.
Nutrition | Calories: 380; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 135 mg; Sodium: 450 mg; Carbohydrates: 24 g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 33 g.
(Adapted from “New Kitchen Basics: 10 Essential Ingredients, 120 Recipes,” by Claire Thomson. Quadrille/Hardie Grant, 2019.)