Bring the flavors of Morocco into your home with this wonderful dish of Moroccan Meatballs with Polenta and Green Beans.
Can I tell you how excited I am about this recipe?? SUPER EXCITED. I have to be honest, this was not my idea - although the recipe is 100% mine. I had Moroccan Spiced Meatballs over Polenta with a side of greens at a restaurant in Jersey City the night of my surprise baby shower, and I could not stop thinking about those meatballs since then!
They've been on my list to make since MAY, and finally all the stars aligned for me to make this dish: I had time, ground beef was on sale, and I finally remembered to buy coriander seeds. (Side note: where I live 'coriander' is the dried seed of the cilantro plant, though I know that 'coriander' is 'cilantro' - as in the leaves - in a lot of countries)
Related recipe: Air Fryer Polenta Fries
Let's talk about the coriander and other spices that make this recipe magnificent. If you have time, buy whole dried coriander seeds and grind them yourself. The coriander will taste SO MUCH FRESHER. This is obviously the case for every spice, but I think coriander is the one that makes all the difference in this recipe and gives it that something special that you can't quite put your finger on but know that it tastes GOOD. And yea, you'll pretty much have to take out your whole spice cabinet for this recipe but it's so worth it!
If you like this recipe, I would recommend making this spice mix ahead of time and making 4-5x the amount, so you have it on hand for a while. But even if you don't make it ahead of time it is still pretty easy once you make sure you have all the ingredients. Pro tip: The amounts don't have to be super exact, so you can use the same teaspoon for most of these and just measure out the spices into the teaspoon over a bowl. This way you don't have to wish 50 different spoons after making the spice mix.
Another pro tip: Don't skip the fresh mint for this recipe, it really gives the meatballs a fresh taste. Don't worry, they won't taste minty, but the mint is essential. Trust me.
These little Moroccan meatballs with polenta are SO GOOD. My favorite part about this recipe is that it has a lot of flavor, but it is not spicy. And for those folks who are hesitant about trying new foods (ahem, kids) - think of it as just meatballs in tomato sauce - it is not too exotic to try! This makes it super family friendly.
Lately I've really been into polenta and grits (see my last recipe of Roasted Pork Loin Filet with Cheesy Grits and Sauteed Greens) because I've kind of gotten tired of the pasta-rice-quinoa-couscous rut that we've been in. I'm loving how versatile polenta - it goes with everything!! - and how easy it is to cook. There is no way to mess it up or overcook it (within reason... I'm sure if you forget about it for an hour it will burn).
Other Moroccan recipes and ethnic-inspired recipes you will love:
- Moroccan chicken pumpkin stew
- Moroccan lentil soup (vegan! with lots of veggies!)
- Ethiopian chicken stew
- Couscous tabbouleh
Did you enjoy this recipe? If yes, let me know with a comment and a star rating below! And don't forget to save it for later on Pinterest:
Moroccan Spiced Meatballs with Polenta and Green Beans
- 1 lb ground beef (90% lean or 93% lean works best)
- 24 oz jar marinara sauce
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup mint leaves , finely diced and tightly packed
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Optional: Shaved Parmesan for garnish
- 4 cups water
- 1.25 cups coarse ground yellow cornmeal
- Optional: 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12- oz green beans , ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt & pepper , to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F. Pour the marinara sauce into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (approximately 2.5 quart).
- In a large bowl, combine all the spices from the coriander to the nutmeg and mix well.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the spice mix to the marinara sauce and gently stir to combine.
- Add the ground beef, egg, and mint to the bowl containing the rest of the spice mixture and mix well using your hands. Form ~1 inch meatballs and place them gently into the spiced marinara sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400F for 20 minutes (Hint: Roast the green beans at this time!). Carefully remove the aluminum foil after 20 minutes and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked.
- Make the green beans: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to another 9 x 13 baking dish. Add the green beans and season generously with salt and pepper. Shake the baking dish back and forth to season the green beans and coat them in oil. Roast the green beans at 400F for about 20 minutes, or to your liking (hint: they can be taken out of the oven the same time that you remove the foil from the meatballs dish.
- Make the polenta: As soon as the meatballs and green beans are baking: Add 4 cups water, butter, and salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal while stirring, and lower the heat to very low (if it is too high, hot polenta might splash out!). Continue cooking for ~20-25 minutes stirring every 2-3 minutes until cooked to your liking. I like my polenta a little coarser with some texture, so I cook it around 20 minutes.
- To serve: arrange 4-5 meatballs and a few tablespoons of sauce over a cup of polenta. Add the green beans on the side. Add a few shavings of Parmesan.