This really delivers on flavour and it’s packed full of vegetables! I would make this for a casual dinner party (see Make Ahead tip below) but it’s also simple enough to cook on a weeknight. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – you probably have most of it already.
Serves 4 – 6
For the sauce:
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 heaped tsp cumin
1 x 28oz tin chopped tomatoes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 bell peppers (not green), de-seeded and chopped roughly
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped dried dates
1 sprig fresh rosemary
For the meatballs:
500g mince beef
1/2 onion, coarsely grated on a box grater
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Big pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs (slightly less if using dried)
For the couscous:
1 normal mug of dried couscous
1 normal mug-full of boiling water
Big pinch of salt and pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic and carrots with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook 5 – 10 minutes, until softened. Add the cinnamon, chilli flakes and cumin. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the tinned tomatoes, chopped sweet potato, bell peppers and dried fruit. Half-fill the empty tin with water and add to the pot. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Nestle in the whole sprig of rosemary and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 40 – 45 minutes or until thickened and the sweet potato are soft. Add a splash of water during cooking if it gets too thick. Discard the rosemary sprig before serving.
While the sauce is simmering, make the meatballs. Add all the meatball ingredients except the meat in a large bowl and stir together. Add the mince beef and mix together using your hands, then form 24 balls by rolling each meatball gently between your hands. (I find it easiest to halve the mixture, halve again, and make 6 balls from each quarter of the mixture.)
Preheat a heavy frying pan and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Brown the meatballs in two batches, with minimal movement to ensure deep browning. Transfer to a plate while you brown the next batch. When you have browned all the meatballs, add them to the sauce, stirring gently. Cook 5 – 10 minutes in the sauce.
To make the couscous, pour the dried couscous into a bowl with the salt, pepper and olive oil. Add the boiling water, give it a stir and cover with a lid or upturned dinner plate. Let sit for 5 minutes then fluff up with a fork.
To serve, start with a bed of fluffy couscous and spoon the meatballs and sauce over the top.
Make ahead: Add the browned meatballs to the sauce and cool down together. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat gently until piping hot. Make the couscous just before serving.