Anissa Helou spent more than three years researching, studying and cooking 300 recipes that span the countries of the Middle East and beyond to create Feast: Food of the Islamic World. We’re obsessed with her meatballs in sour cherry sauce, a Syrian-inspired dish that’s surprisingly easy to whip up. Like our favorite spicy glazed meatballs, they’re irresistibly sweet, salty, sticky and cocktail party-ready.
Meatballs in Sour Cherry Sauce
1 pound lean ground lamb, from the leg or shoulder
½ tablespoon sea salt
½ teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 or 3 pita breads, split into 2 disks and cut into medium triangles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, for serving
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1. MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Mix together the lamb, salt and allspice; shape into small balls, the size of large marbles. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the meatballs until lightly browned.
2. MAKE THE CHERRY SAUCE: Put the cherries, sugar and pomegranate molasses in a pot large enough to eventually hold the meatballs and bring to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
3. ASSEMBLE THE DISH: Arrange the pita triangles all over a serving platter, coarse side up, making sure the pointed ends are nicely arranged on the outside. Drizzle the melted butter all over the bread. Spoon the meat and sauce over the bread. Sprinkle the chopped parsley all over, then the toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.