I make my own chorizo fairly regularly and it is fantastic in so many things. One of my favorite ways to use it is as a filling for stuffed peppers. I don’t recall exactly how I came up with the idea of adding chopped, dried dates to the chorizo, but it was a brilliant one, if I do say so myself! The heat of the chorizo with the sweetness of the dates is fantastic. However, my chorizo has one downside: it doesn’t hold together at all. Which is fine if you’re using it in traditional chorizo-y recipes. Yes, that’s a word. But if what you really want is a chorizo patty or meatball, that’s not going to jive. I think it has something to do with the apple cider vinegar in the original chorizo recipe – if anyone has any explanations, let me know!
So in order to get that chorizo zing to these meatballs, I took my chorizo seasoning, omitting the vinegar, and added it to a batch of ground lamb. Lamb and dates are a match made in heaven if you ask me, but beef would work here, too. I scooped my mini meatballs with a one tablespoon cookie scoop because I personally find the bite size version of meatballs to be the most versatile. They make great lunchbox additions this way or can be used to top a salad, or even a morning egg dish. The other great thing is that they cook so quickly!
As I was going to serve these as an appetizer / canapé, I whipped up a quick dipping sauce in my mini food processor. I was thinking of how cooling Raita is when I came up with this, using coconut milk in place of yogurt. Those Primal people among you could use any type of yogurt you find acceptable instead of the coconut milk. The dipping sauce is what really makes this whole dish shine: the sweetness of the dates meets the spiced meatball which is then finished off with the refreshing cilantro-laced sauce. Delicious!
- 1 egg
- 1 tbl coconut aminos
- Few drops of gluten free fish sauce
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander / cilantro seed
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbl chile powder (I used ancho - use up to 2 tbl if you want these hot!)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 6 large pitted dates (about 4 oz)
- 1 - 1¼ lb ground lamb (or beef)
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, packed
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup coconut milk
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of dried cumin
- Line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut aminos and fish sauce. Add all the dried herbs and spices; whisk again.
- Chop the dates finely. If chopping by hand, pour the almond flour over the chopping board and rub the dates in the flour to prevent sticking to the knife.
- Add the lamb or beef to the bowl, working the spice & egg mixture gently through the meat. Add the almond flour and dates - combine gently.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Use a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to drop scoops of meat mixture onto the lined baking tray until it is all used up.
- Put the meatballs in the oven and cook until done and browned, about 12 minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the dipping sauce.
- Chop the cilantro finely, then add the lemon juice, coconut milk, salt and cumin. Stir to combine. A mini food processor is great for this!
- Remove the meatballs from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Plate them along with the sauce on the side for dipping. Adding little skewers or toothpicks make dipping easier!
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