Minty Meatballs with Cabbage & Tahini

My goal last week was to cook something from my new cookbook, Molly Baz’s Cook This Book. The problem was every single recipe in this cookbook looked amazing so I released myself from the burden of choosing and passed the book to my beau. He gravitated towards this recipe and when I saw it included meatballs and a dipping sauce I was sold.

Preheat the oven to 450 (I went lower on the temp because I have a super sensitive smoke alarm). Cut one head of green cabbage into eighths and trim out the core. Separate the leaves and spread them out on two baking sheets. The leaves will overlap a bit and that’s totally a-ok. Drizzle the cabbage with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and work that seasoning into the leaves so they’re all dressed. Roast until you see a few charred spots (13-15 minutes), remove from the oven, and combine all the leaves onto one of the two baking sheets (you’ll use the now empty baking sheet for the meatballs). Increase the oven temp to 500 (again, I didn’t go so high and it was fine) and make your meatballs. In a mixing bowl, beat 1 egg. Add 2/3 c. panko, 2 tbsp tahini, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Whisk everything together. Grate 2 cloves garlic into the bread crumb mixture. Add 1/2 c. mint leaves (chopped) and 1/3 lb. ground lamb (I used ground pork because the store was out of lamb). Gently mix everything together. You’re adding only part of the ground meat first so you can properly incorporate the bread crumb mixture, which tends to be a bit clumpy. Once everything seems evenly distributed, add in the remaining 2/3 lb. of meat and mix it all together. Roll out 12 meatballs and space out on one of the baking sheets. Return both baking sheets to the oven with the meatballs on the top rack (there’s science to this that will help the meatballs brown). Roast 7-9 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the cabbage looks nice and charred. While they’re in the oven, make a tahini sauce by stirring together 1/2 c. tahini, 1/3 c. water, the juice of 1 lemon, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1 grated clove of garlic. (You may have to play with the proportions of the sauce – taste as you go, my friends.) To plate, spread some tahini sauce on the plate, top with some meatballs and cabbage, and sprinkle fresh mint on top.

Cabbage…who knew?! I pretty much only see cabbage when shredded in slaw or stuffed for a holiday meal. This is the first dish I’ve encountered where cabbage is a real star ingredient. It’s not about the dressing or the stuffing here. And the meatballs: great. No complaints there. I’m sure this would be best with lamb because lamb + mint is such a great combo, but I actually think it worked really well with pork so don’t fret if you need to make a substitution. No pasta in this recipe; in fact, there’s no starch whatsoever which makes the entire meatball/cabbage/sauce combo nice and interesting.