Turkey “Merguez” Meatballs with Couscous and Griddled Vegetables

North Africa and France

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Lavender & Lovage: A Culinary Notebook of Memories & Recipes From Home & Abroad

Lavender & Lovage

By Karen Burns-Booth

Published 2019

  • About

One of the things I miss about not living in France anymore, and this is a food item, are Merguez sausages. I used to buy them regularly for BBQ’s, and they are particularly tasty when served with tagines too. These spicy lamb and beef sausages are primarily seasoned with cumin, garlic, fennel, chillies and harissa, the latter giving the sausages their distinctive red colouring. You can of course make them at home, if you have a sausage-making attachment on your food processor or mixer. In this recipe, I have lightened them up a bit, using all the key spices, but have made them into turkey merguez meatballs that can be baked with a minimum of fuss. These delicious Moroccan inspired baked meatballs are then served with spicy and aromatic griddled veggies and couscous.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 4 slices brown bread, torn into pieces
  • 100 ml milk
  • 400 g skinless mixed turkey meat, diced
  • 1 free range egg, beaten
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Olive oil spray

Vegetables and Couscous

  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 150 g giant or coarse couscous
  • Olive oil
  • 2 courgettes, sliced into long ribbons (I used a swivel head potato peeler)
  • 1 large red pepper, trimmed, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus extra lemon wedges to serve
  • 150 g thick natural yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves, plus extra mint leaves to garnish

Method

  1. Soak the bread in the milk for 10 to 15 minutes. Pulse the diced turkey in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add the soaked bread, egg, garlic, harissa paste, ½ teaspoon of the ground cumin, the fennel seeds and all of the ground coriander. Season with salt and pepper, and process for a further minute until the mixture is smooth, but still retains some texture.
  2. Wet your hands, (this stops the mixture from sticking to your fingers) and shape the mixture into 20 meatballs. The mixture will be very soft, but don’t worry, as it will firm up. Place the meatballs on a lined baking tray and place them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Take the meatballs out of the freezer and spray some of the low-calorie cooking spray over them. (I used Fry Light olive oil.) Bake them in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are cooked through and golden brown.
  4. Whilst the meatballs are cooking, bring the stock to a boil and add the couscous; bring back to the boil and cook for a further 5 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, then drain it and set it aside.
  5. Heat a large griddle pan over medium to high heat and add some olive oil. Add the courgette ribbons, peppers and onion wedges in a single layer, and mist them with more of the low-calorie cooking spray. Griddle the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, you will need to this in batches, until they are all cooked, and are tender and just charred around the edges.
  6. Toss the griddled vegetables with the couscous and the lemon juice and spoon it onto a large serving platter. Mix the yogurt with the chopped mint leaves and the remaining ground cumin. Arrange the meatballs on top of the vegetables and couscous, garnishing with the mint leaves. Serve immediately with the yogurt and lemon wedges on the side.