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Israeli Meatballs Simmered in Tehina

The rich, nutty flavor of sesame adds a special pop to this dish.



Ready In:

PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 45 minutes
READY IN: 60 minutes

Great cooking in Israel begins with tehina, the building block that begets many of the country’s best dishes. You may know it as tahini if you’re more familiar with Greek cuisine, but in Israel, the pure sesame seed paste is an honored staple that’s added into dips, spreads, sauces, and sweets by the the ton. There is no escaping tehina in Israeli cooking.


Steps to Make It

  • 2 8 oz. containers of Sabra Tehina plus 5-6 tablespoons water
  • 2 pounds of Rafter W Ranch Ground Beef
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, washed and patted dry, stemmed and finely chopped (Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika plus 1/4 teaspoon more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio halves or pine nuts, roasted or browned in dry pan; Reserve for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil for pan

1) In a small bowl, Mix 2 containers of Sabra tehina with water until it is thin but not watery. Set aside.

2) Mix ground beef with all ingredients except reserved tahini (this will become your simmer sauce); parsley, paprika and pistachios (all for garnish).

3) Mix meat so that all ingredients are integrated. Do not over- handle. Form into 1 inch rounds and then pat into small football shapes.

4) Heat oil in large ovenproof pan or pot. When oil is shimmering, add meatballs and brown on both sides, approximately 3 minutes per side. Do not crowd the pan. You will need to brown in 2-3 rounds.

5) When meatballs are browned, remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan of meat and onion crumbles and any extra oil that has pooled.

6) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with shelf set in middle position.

7) Pour 1/2 of tehina mixture into bottom of ovenproof pot or cast iron pan. Place meatballs in the pan in a single layer. Pour remaining tehina over meat.

8) Place pan in oven and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. Check meat for doneness by cutting into one of the meatballs.

9) If meat appears a little dry, drizzle 1/4-1/2 cup of thinned tehina over the meatballs and place pan back in oven to warm.

10) Serve meatballs garnished with chopped parsley, pistachios and a sprinkle of paprika.

SERVING NOTES: These meatballs are delicious tucked into a lettuce wrap with extra tehina drizzled over the meat. They may also be tucked into a warmed pita or served over brown rice or your grain of choice.