Pistachio and Pomegranate Meatballs By Najmieh Batmanglij

Rating: 
Yield: 
24–30 meatballs.
Ingredients: 

For the Meatballs:
1 small onion, peeled and cut into 4
1 1/2 cups raw pistachio kernels
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 pounds ground lamb (or ground chicken or turkey thighs; or boned and skinned ground fish fillets)
1 egg
1/2 cup oil, butter, or ghee*

For the Glaze:
3/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup honey or grape molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the Garnish:
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Sprigs of basil, sprouts, mint
1 cup fresh pomegranate arils

Instructions: 

To make the meatballs: Pulse all the ingredients, except the meat and egg, in a food processor until you have a grainy paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the meat and egg. Lightly knead with your hands for a few minutes (do not overmix). Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500˚F. Generously oil a wide, nonreactive baking dish (wide enough to fit 24 meatballs, about 12x14 inches) and set aside. 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 well with oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

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.

Reduce the oven to 400˚F. Glaze the meatballs and bake for another 5 minutes to infuse them with the flavor of the pomegranate. Adjust seasoning to taste. If too sour add more honey; if too sweet add more pomegranate molasses. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Place the meatballs with its sauce in deep serving dish and garnish.

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fun facts

Pistachios, when eaten with high-carbohydrate foods, may result in lower than expected blood sugar levels, an important factor in reducing risk of diabetes.

According to a Penn State University study, it is suggested that pistachios reduce the body's biological response to stress.

One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7%).

Pistachios are high in phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. In animal studies phytosterols have been shown to potentially have anti-cancer properties.

One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more than any other tree nut.

Forty-nine pistachios serve up to 20 percent of your Daily Value of B6, about the same as half an avocado.

You can obtain more dietary fiber from a serving of pistachios (3g) than a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, and the same amount of dietary fiber as an orange or an apple — approximately 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Just a single serving of pistachios provides you with the same amount of protein in a one-ounce serving of soybeans and can serve as a protein alternative to meat, poultry or beans according to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

Celebrate the greatness of nuts! October 22 is National Nut Day and February 26 is National Pistachio Day!