Moroccan Turkey Meatballs with Citrusy Harissa Pasta Topped with Grilled Halloumi Cheese

Harissa is a go to sauce and condiment in this house, with it’s complex sweet and slightly spiced taste and bright red beautiful color, its a simple meal changer. For those of you who haven’t tried this light and bright sauce from Northern Africa, trust me when I say you should always have a jar open in the fridge to top eggs, mix into salad dressing, or fancy up a simple grilled meat or fish dish. Using harissa as the base for this light and citrusy pasta dish and good-for-you meatballs, this is a family favorite week day meal. I prep and make the balls & sauce early in the afternoon so the rest of the cooking is easy and simple at that busy evening time. I also always make extra because the leftovers are perfect for baby’s lunch the next day. Don’t skip making the hot hallumi cheese garnish because that is what takes this dish from delish to AHHH-mazing.

Prep Time
Cook Time
  • Meatballs: 1 lb. ground organic turkey {opt in any other type of ground meat}
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Harissa Sauce
  • 1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup high quality bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/s tsp. salt
  • Pasta & Sauce: 2 cups cooked elbow pasta or shape of your choice. I like something small.
  • 3/4 of 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Harissa Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • Dill or parsley, to garnish
  • 1 block of high quality hallumi cheese (found in your grocer's cheese section)
  • 1/2 lemon, for garnish and to finish dish
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the meatball ingredients.
  3. Roll into balls and place into an oven safe baking dish or small muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 25 min. or until slightly browned on top and cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pasta sauce.
  6. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add in the onions and sauté, stirring every minute or so, until they are softened and almost translucent, about 7 minutes.
  7. Add in the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 minute. Add in the harissa and cumin. Allow to become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add in the lemon zest and juice. Scrape down the bottom of the pan. Add in the tomatoes. Cover and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Meanwhile, make the pasta and put to the side.
  10. Once ready to serve, grill or sauté the hallumi cheese. Slice the cheese into long thick strips, kind of like French fries.
  11.  Heat 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a cast iron or non stick pan until it is very hot. Using a pair of tongs, add into the hot oil and allow to fry, browning on the first side, for about 2 minutes. Don’t flip too early or the crusty browned part will come off. If it does come off, just put it back down and wait another minute or so. Flip and brown the other side.
  12. Take off heat and place onto a cutting board. Allow to cool for 5 minutes while you assemble the rest of the meal.
  13. On a platter, place the pasta and then the sauce. Add on the meatballs and top with more sauce.
  14. Cube the cheese, which should now be semi hardened but still warm, and scatter around the platter. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs and serve hot.


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