Middle Eastern meatballs with herbed couscous takes just 15 minutes to make. (Linda Gassenheimer)

Middle Eastern meatballs with herbed couscous takes just 15 minutes to make. (Linda Gassenheimer)

Meatballs, couscous meal offers subtle Middle Eastern flavors

Cinnamon, cumin and raisins flavor the meatballs. A cucumber and yogurt sauce adds a refreshing finish.

Capture delicate flavors of the Middle East with this 15-minute meal. The mixture of cinnamon, cumin and raisins flavors the meatballs. A cucumber and yogurt sauce adds a cool and refreshing finish.

Israeli couscous is larger than regular couscous. It is a type of pasta and adds a crunchy texture to the Herbed Couscous side dish. Fresh mint and tomatoes add more flavor and color.

Helpful hints:

■ Israeli couscous is also called pearl or Jerusalem couscous.

■ An easy way to turn the meatballs over while cooking, is with a tong or two spoons.

Countdown:

■ Start couscous.

■ While couscous cooks, make meatballs.

■ Finish couscous.

Shopping list:

To buy: ¾ pound ground sirloin, 1 package raisins, 1 package frozen chopped onion, 1 bottle ground cinnamon, 1 bottle ground cumin, 1 bunch parsley (optional), 1 bunch fresh mint, 1 carton plain yogurt, 1 cucumber, 1 tomato and 1 package Israeli couscous.

Staples: olive oil, egg, salt and black peppercorns.

Middle Eastern meatballs

¼ cup raisins

¾ pound lean ground sirloin

1 cup frozen chopped onion

1 egg white

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons non-fat, plain yogurt

1 tablespoon chopped cucumber

½ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat broiler. Mix raisins, ground sirloin, diced onion, egg white, cinnamon and cumin together. Roll mixture into meatballs about 2 inches in diameter and place on a foil-lined tray. Makes 10 meatballs. Broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes, turn over and broil for another 3 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 155 degrees.

Divide into two portions and serve over couscous. Mix the yogurt and cucumber together and spoon evenly over the meatballs. Sprinkle the parsley on top, (if using).

Makes 2 servings. Nutrition per serving: 420 calories (37% from fat), 17.3 grams fat (6.9 grams saturated, 7.6 grams monounsaturated), 113 milligrams cholesterol, 37.7 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 4.1 grams fiber, 166 milligrams sodium.

Herbed couscous

1 cup water

½ cup Israeli couscous

1 cup tomato cubes, (about ½-inch)

½ cup fresh mint torn into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil. Add the couscous, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Drain. Add tomatoes, mint, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 servings. Nutrition per serving: 244 calories (27% from fat), 7.3 grams fat (1.1 grams saturated, 3.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 6.7 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 4.1 grams fiber, 12 milligrams sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook.” Listen to Linda on www.wdna.org and all major podcast sites. Email her at linda@dinnerinminutes.com.

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