Mint and cumin lamb meatballs with tomato sauce

Let’s start with how horribly this recipe is named in our delightful Essential Tapas book. We passed over this recipe for the past 5 years of owning this cookbook and finally made it today with Jordan. And it is amazing! We will be making this again soon!

Tiny meatballs with tomato sauce

Tiny meatballs

  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb 2 oz fresh ground lamb
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/4 of a lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. very finely chopped fresh mint
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of pepper


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned.
  2. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool.
  3. Mix with your hands the cooled onions with the lamb, egg, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl. (if desired: cook a small piece of the mixture and taste to see if the seasoning needs adjusting)
  4. With wet hands (or gloves) shape the mixture into about 35 3/4 inch-1 inch diameter balls.
  5. Place on a tray and let chill in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes.
  6. When ready to cook, heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet (amt will vary by the quality of the lamb)
  7. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer, without overcrowding the skillet, and cook over medium heat about 2 minutes per side, until brown on the outside and pink on the inside. Work in batches until complete.

Tomato Sauce


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 oz shallots, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 lb ripe, fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 thin strip freshly pared orange rind
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch pepper- freshly ground
  • pinch (like a few flakes or less) of hot red pepper flake (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic, shallots, and bell pepper and cook until the bell peppers are soft, but not brown while stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes, orange rind, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to as low as possible and let simmer, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens.
  5. Puree the sauce in a food processor then press through a fine strainer (or leave as is if you prefer it to be a bit chunky).

The original recipes are found in our Perfect Tapas, a collection of over 100 essential recipes edits according to our preferences.