Persian Pomegranate Pistachio Meatballs

 

My dear husband was the guinea pig for this recipe, as he is for all of them. After he helped himself to the dinner spread, laid out, there was a pause, and great suspense, waiting for a reaction as he raised his fork. Before I could say one word, he let out sounds of high satisfaction. Happily, he loved the lamb meatballs and I hope you will too! This was definitely one way to my husband’s heart.

 

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Ingredients

 

 

1 onion, chopped well
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios
1/4 cup almond flour)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (too spicy for us)
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin (or turmeric)
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1.5-2 pounds of ground lamb
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil or 1/2 cup olive oil

 

Glaze

 

3/4 cup pomegranate molasses (I got it from Amazon.com)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

 

Garnish

 

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
1 sprig basil
mint leaves
1 cup fresh pomegranate arils

 

Directions

 

1. To make the meatballs: Pulse all the ingredients, except the meat and egg, in a food processor until you have a grainy paste.
2. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the meat and egg. Lightly knead with your hands for a few minutes (do not over mix).
3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. (For best mix of flavors refrigerate for 24 hours
4. Preheat the oven to 500F. Generously oil a baking dish wide enough to fit 24 meatballs, about 12×14 inches) and set aside.
5. Remove the paste from the refrigerator and shape into bite-sized balls (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each, you can use an ice cream scoop) and place the meatballs in the baking dish and brush with oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the glaze. It is important that you taste the glaze and be sure that it has a good balance between sweet and sour—add more honey if the pomegranate molasses you have used is too sour.
7. Reduce the oven to 400F. Brush the glaze over each meatball and bake for another 5 minutes to infuse them with the flavor of the pomegranate. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
8. Place the meatballs with its sauce in deep serving dish and garnish.
9. These lamb meatballs keep very well for about a week in a good fridge; in fact, as the flavors merge, they are better the next day.

 

Serve these delicious meatballs with Basmati or Jasmine rice, a simple tossed salad, warm pita bread and one of the following wines: red Zinfandel, Shiraz, or an excellent Chardonnay.

 

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Cheers!

 

Zinfandel/Primitivo
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Grape (Vitis) Zinfandel grapes ripening on the vine

 

 

Europe (6000 BCE – 1870)

 

Archaeological evidence indicates that domestication of Vitis vinifera occurred in the Caucasus region around 6000 BCE, and winemaking was discovered shortly after. Cultivation of the vine subsequently spread to the Mediterranean and surrounding regions. Croatia once had several indigenous varieties related to Zinfandel, which formed the basis of its wine industry in the 19th century. This diversity suggests that the grapes existed in Croatia longer than anywhere else. However, these varieties were almost entirely wiped out by the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century, reducing Zinfandel to just nine vines of locally-known “Crljenak Kaštelanski” discovered in 2001 on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.

 

The first documented use of the term Primitivo appears in Italian governmental publications of the 1870s. The name derives from the terms primativus or primaticcio, which refer to the grape’s tendency to ripen earlier than other varieties. This name’s appearance 40 years after the first documented use of the term Zinfandel was previously thought to suggest that Primitivo was introduced to Italy from across the Atlantic; however, this hypothesis became unlikely since the discovery of the vine’s Croatian origin.

 

Primitivo is now thought to have been introduced as a distinct clone into the Puglia region of Italy in the 18th century. Don Francesco Filippo Indellicati, the priest of the church at Gioia del Colle near Bari, selected an early (“primo”) ripening plant of the Zagarese variety and planted it in Liponti. This clone ripened at the end of August and became widespread throughout northern Puglia. Cuttings came to the other great Primitivo DOC (denominazione di origine controllata or “denomination of controlled origin”) as part of the dowry of the Countess Sabini of Altamura when she married Don Tommaso Schiavoni-Tafuri of Manduria in the late 19th century.

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