This recipe can be made weeks ahead and frozen in the casserole dish in which it will be heated and served. Allow dish to thaw in refrigerator for two days before cooking.
1 (5.25-ounce) box tabbouleh mix, minus spice packet
2 pounds ground lamb
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried mint flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 large whole bay leaves
How to Make It
Place tabbouleh in a large heatproof bowl; add 1 cup boiling water, cover, and let stand 30 minutes. Add lamb, next 5 ingredients, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix well with hands, and shape into golf ball-size meatballs. Lightly spritz meatballs with cooking spray.
Coat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven with cooking spray, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, and heat 2 minutes over high heat. Brown meatballs in 3 batches over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes per batch, shaking pot so meatballs brown evenly. Add remaining olive oil as needed. Drain browned meatballs on paper towels.
Deglaze pot with 1 cup water, cooking 2 minutes over medium heat and stirring to loosen browned particles. Add tomato sauce, bay leaves, and remaining pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, and return meatballs to pot; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves, and serve meatballs and sauce warm, or freeze.
Note: If freezing, cool meatballs in sauce 30 minutes, transfer to a shallow 4-quart freezer-to-oven casserole dish, and cover with aluminum foil; label and date the container. To reheat thawed meatballs, bake, still wrapped in foil, at 350° for 45 minutes or until warm.