This vibrant dish is a super delicious and healthy meal on its own. It’s packed with proteins & vitamins.
Not only that, it’s full of flavours too- tangy tomatoes, zesty lime & garlic, umami from meat, sour kick from olives, freshness of mint & other herbs…
How I developed this recipe–
I have had Mediterranean couscous salads from authentic restaurants around here in the Middle East, and honestly, all of it tasted different and unique. So I wanted to make my own version of this healthy dish and thought about adding my favourite meatballs cooked in the Mediterranean style as well, for which I tried many referrals to end up with this beautifully seasoned meatball recipe.
What’s special about this recipe?
. Bell pepper trio- These are high in Vitamin A & C, low in calories. And are even proven to reduce cholesterol!
. Nut free , dry fruit free & dairy free- Unlike many Mediterranean/middle eastern meat-rice recipes, this dish does not contain any nuts or dry fruits – therefore suitable for people with nut allergies and for people like me who do not prefer raisins in their pulao.
. Quick & nutritious couscous- It’s cholesterol free, sugar free, low in sodium, fat free and cooks in a tiffy!
. Olives, olive oil & herbs- Olives are known for its antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil is high in good fats and is cholesterol free .Apart from this, olive oil and fresh herbs aids your overall metabolism and adds much flavour to this dish !
What you’ll need-
For Mediterranean couscous-
. 1 cup Fine/medium couscous
. 1 cup finely sliced red onions/shallots
. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
. 2 teaspoons finely chopped green chillies
. Half cup each of chopped red and yellow bell peppers
. One by 3rd cup of finely chopped (in rounds & then into quarts) carrots
. 1 teaspoon dried mint
. One by 3rd cup chopped small salad cucumbers
. One by 3rd cups chopped white onions
. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
. 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
. 3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
. Few tablespoons of olive oil
. Juice of half a lemon
. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
. Half teaspoon cumin powder
. One by 4th teaspoon all-spice powder
. Salt to taste
For Tomatoey meatballs in sautéed bell peppers-
. 1 cup ground lamb
. 1 cup ground beef
. 1 and a half tablespoon sundried tomato paste
. One and a half cups of chopped red tomatoes.
. One by 3rd cup of green, yellow and red bell peppers each
Boil 1.5 cups of water with few pinches of salt. Pour the couscous into it, cover & let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. When the granules have absorbed the water completely, fluff it up with a fork.
Saute red onions, green chillies, garlic, carrot, dried mint & coriander with few pinches of salt in olive oil. Then add the spice powders and stir again till the raw smell goes away.
Add the cooked couscous & stir again.
In a bowl, mix the cucumbers, olives, parsley, a tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste.
Stir in the above to the couscous right before serving.
For tomatoey meatballs with sautéed bell peppers-
Combine ground meat with egg yolk, 1 tablespoon olive oil, chopped coriander stems, finely chopped red onions, half teaspoon sundried tomato paste, cumin powder, ginger paste, crushed dried red chillies, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and salt to taste. Form lemon sized meatballs out of this mixture.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and shallow fry the meatballs. Transfer it to another bowl when browned on all sides. Add 1-2 tablespoon more olive oil to the same pan and sauté the onions, garlic, bell peppers. Add paprika and sauté again now add rest of sundried tomato paste and stir in chopped fresh red tomatoes and simmer.
Add the beef stock and salt to it .
When it’s simmering, drop in the meatballs carefully, sprinkle with basil leaves, cover and cook till the meatballs are cooked through. Stir adding lemon juice. Check for salt and add if needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve hot on a bed of fluffy couscous, sprinkle some fresh parsley leaves and drizzle a little olive oil.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions-
. You could make the meatball mixture, form meatballs and freeze it for a week for a quick preparation whenever needed.
. You could also cook the couscous a day ahead and refrigerate so that you just have to heat & toss it in with sautéed veggies and salad veggies into it the next day.
. Vegetarians/vegans can add cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans to this nutritious couscous which makes it a one pot meal on the itself that’s both healthy and tasty.