Spaghetti & Meatballs was not a common dish at home where I grew up in Amman, Jordan. A variation on meatballs- Daoud Basha- where the meat cooks in red tomato sauce with wing sliced onions is more common. My great grandma tete Nazo passed this dish along, among many others to my mom and dad.
However, the meatballs in this dish- Mediterranean Meatballs with Zaatar- are a variation on Kafta, where the ground beef is flavored with diced parsley and onion and is spiced up with a mixture of peppers. Kafta is a common Middle Eastern dish. It is typically skewered and grilled or spread in a pan and baked. In Mediterranean Meatballs with Zaatar- I use my dad’s specialty mixture of peppers- Jiddo’s Pepper, onion and parsley to flavor the beef. I use Spaghetti and lots of Marinara sauce. To top it up, I drizzle HOT Zaatar with its Cayenne and Double Cut Crushed Red Pepper. HOT Zaatar pairs so beautifully with the Marinara sauce, it’s a winning combination! Drooling yet? I don’t blame you! This Mediterranean fusion dish is becoming a staple at our home here in Carmel, Indiana!
- 2 lb Meat (your choice – turkey, ground beef, seitan)
for ground beef recommend 50% chuck roast and 50% sirloin tip roast
- 1-1.25 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Jiddo’s Pepper (optional) or ¾ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp Breadcrumbs (thick ones are recommended, can be gluten-free)
- ½ Onion (medium sized, diced)
- ½ bunch parsley (diced)
- Apricot Sun Zaatar Spread (regular or HOT)
- 1 lb Pasta (recommend thin spaghetti)
- 1 jar Red tomato sauce (Marinara or Basil)
- Shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Cut out an aluminum sheet and lay it flat, or use a cutting board dedicated for handling. meats. Use gloves for raw meat handling (optional).
- Cut another aluminum sheet and lay on top of a baking pan. Spray with spray oil. I mix my own 50-50 olive oil & corn oil.
- In a small bowl mix the spices- salt, Jiddo’s Pepper or black pepper & breadcrumbs.
- Peel, wash, & dice onion- medium to fine dice.
- Bunch, wash & dice parsley- medium dice.
- Glove hands (optional).
- Place the ground beef on aluminum sheet or cutting board.
- Add all prepped ingredients- spices, onion and parsley.
- Mix and incorporate all ingredients with the meat until evenly distributed.
- Divide the meat into medium size pieces- about 1.5-2 tbsp.
- Bowl the meat and set on baking pan.
- Remove gloves & wash hands. Place all raw meat items in trash, sink. Wash the preparation area promptly.
- Cook at 350F for 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 155F for beef or 165F for turkey or chicken. Broil at 400F for 2 minutes- till golden brown.
- In a small pot warm the red tomato sauce on the stove top.
- With a metal spoon, mix the HOT Zaatar Spread or Zaatar Spread in the jar.
- Dish pasta, meatballs, red tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, then drizzle with about a tablespoon of Zaatar Spread (original or HOT) for the perfect flavorful and bold Mediterranean topping!