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These aromatic Persian-influenced meatballs are perfect to feed a crowd. Simmered in a spiced tomato base, they’re also gluten-free. Enjoy them over mounds of cauliflower rice or steamed basmati. Adorn with herbs like dill, mint, marjoram and coriander for fragrance and visual appeal.


½ pound ground beef, 80% lean
1 egg, whisked
¾ cup yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (stalks and leaves)
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
1¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ inch ginger knob, minced
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
16 ounces tomato sauce
Chopped herbs, for garnish


In large bowl, mix beef with egg, ¼ cup onion, 2 teaspoons garlic, red chili flakes, coriander, mint and ¾ teaspoon salt. Form into 20 or so small meatballs, and place on tray.

To make tomato base: Add oil to 12-inch saucepan over medium heat. Sauté remaining onion until golden, about 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic and ginger. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add turmeric, cumin, paprika, chili powder and remaining salt. Stir in tomato sauce, and let simmer for 5–7 minutes, to allow flavors to meld. Thin with 2 tablespoons water, if too thick.

Add meatballs separately into sauce. Cover pan with lid, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped herbs. Serve with cauliflower rice, steamed basmati or green salad. Serves 4.

Pair It

Mt. Difficulty 2015 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir (Central Otago); $22, 90 points. Light- to medium-bodied reds play well with red sauce dishes. Look to New Zealand Pinot Noir for gentle, structured tannins that can keep up with ground beef. Crisp red fruit flavors common to Pinot Noir balance the spices and match the acidity of the tomato sauce.