Chosen Bites: Satisfying Springtime Supper

After a long, bitter cold winter, Chef Laura Frankel's flavorful and fragrant meatballs are a perfect dish to spring us into the next season.

Meatballs (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This easy and savory tagine is a snap to throw together and is perfect for your Purim Seudah, Shabbat dinner or any night.
Grinding your own spices is ideal for a dish that is so fragrant and flavorful with spices. Freshly ground spices have a deep, rich aroma from the essential oils that are newly exposed. Purchased spices that are pre-ground lose their flavor quickly and can become rancid.
I use a small-inexpensive coffee grinder that is used solely for spice grinding. After each use I wipe it out with a damp paper towel-never try to wash it as the water will get into the grinder. I use the grinder for all my spices and then can customize each spice mix to the dish.
Meatball Tagine
Serves 4
The vivid flavors of this modern tagine are perfect for spring. The meatballs are fresh and bright with the generous addition of herbs and the sauce is fragrant with spices and saffron. I used ground turkey for my tagine-but you could easily substitute ground lamb, beef or chicken.
For the meatballs
-1 pound ground turkey
-½ cup fresh soft bread crumbs, I use leftover challah and whirr it up in my food processor
-3 tablespoons cold water
-1 whole egg, whisked
-¼ cup chopped fresh mint + additional for garnish
-¼ cup chopped fresh parsley + additional for garnish
-¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro + additional for garnish
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh savory or fresh oregano
-¼ cup chopped scallions
-Salt and Pepper
For the braising liquid
-1 large red onion, thinly sliced
-1 fennel bulb, sliced
-3 medium carrots, sliced
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-½ cup golden raisins
-1 cup cooked chick peas
-1 32-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-½ cup chicken stock
-3 teaspoons freshly ground coriander
-1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
-2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
-½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
-¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies
-½ teaspoon saffron threads
-Salt and pepper
1. Place all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.
2. Dip your hands in cold water and gently roll the meat mixture form meat balls.
3. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil. Brown the meatballs in the pan and transfer the meatballs to a tagine or other deep oven proof casserole.
4. In the same pan, add the onion and fennel and sauté until they are caramelized and medium brown. Transfer sautéed onion and fennel.
5. Add more olive oil to the pan and sauté the carrots until they are browned and then add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer the carrot mixture to the tagine.
6. Add the remaining ingredients to the tagine and cover. Place the tagine in the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour until the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are soft.
7. Garnish with additional mint, parsley and cilantro. Serve with couscous.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.