I want to reduce the amount of food waste in my kitchen. I have been neglecting this in favor of experimenting with new recipes every week and accumulating a pantry full leftover ingredients. Eventually the food would turn rancid and thrown out. Enough. This is not a responsible way to manage a kitchen, either financially or environmentally. In the spirit of practical minimalism I am trying to change my wasteful habits without interfering with my cooking style.
For me this means being more creative with items on hand, and improvising on recipes to include them. Instead of buying new ingredients I made a Moroccan sweet and savory meatball tangine from leftover pantry items.
The addition of fruits to savory dishes is an ancient custom, made popular in the Middle East during Medieval times. Later the Arabs introduced this method into North Africa echoing the fragrance and flavors of the East.
Tiny Meatballs with Raisons and Caramelized Onions
Although I usually use breadcrumbs, I added ground almonds in the meat mixture to keep it gluten free and to impart a subtle nutty flavor. Baharat is a spice mixture used throughout the Levant, Iraq and some parts of North Africa. In this recipe I used Iraqi baharat (what I happened to have available) adding an exotic flavor. Traditionally this might have been cooked in a tangine but a shallow pot is also acceptable and what I used. I have seen similar recipes adding sugar to the sauce but I omitted this in favor of more raisins.
500 grams ground meat
1 onion grated
2 tablespoons ground almonds or bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or baharat
3/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes
3 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
Olive oil or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers to garnish
Fry the onions in olive oil on low to medium heat until golden brown. Add the raisons, reserving the water. Continue to fry while mixing for a few more seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the raisin’s liquid and bring to a simmer. Put aside.
Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and knead by hand until well mixed. Using a melon spoon take a cherry sized amount of the mixture. It is possible to cook these directly in the sauce or fry them separately until golden before adding. Water or more raisin juice needs to be added so that it comes half way up the meatballs. Simmer for 20-30 minutes with the top partially covered until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve with toasted slivered almonds.
To toast almonds I usually coat them with a small amount of oil and heat them in a pan until they become golden.