Moroccan Braised Lentils + Lamb Meatballs

Summer is here! My first vacation of the season started last weekend in Miami at the Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa with my mom. The resort, the spa, the breeze, the food – everything was amazing. We sat by the pool for lunch and overlooked the ocean at dinner (and of course, we started with fun drinks!). On the third and final night I was there, I ordered Moroccan braised lentils. Sometimes when I’m out to eat and really enjoy the food, I try to deconstruct it in my mind and make a mental note for later so I can re-construct it in my own kitchen. The braised lentils was one of those dishes. It was rich with flavor, healthy, filling and very satisfying — even in the middle of May!

drinks at canyon ranchThere was an option to add lamb and at the time I passed. However, when I made it back at my house I added lamb meatballs. That’s what’s great about this dish – it can be for carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-freeans and any other type of food allergen. I replaced carrots and celery (because of my brother’s food allergies) with swiss chard (insert any other type of sturdy leafy green) and onions. Below you’ll see the recipe as adapted by me but feel free to be creative with your own twists! One of my favorite parts about this meal is the quinoa. It’s plain quinoa added on top and mixed in at the end. This simple addition adds great texture and absorbs all the delicious flavors of the lentils. Win!

braised lentils

And now a little behind the scenes. A photo of the photo. I had just returned from a run and the sun was setting. In food photography, natural lighting is so important and I did not want to miss the opportunity to share this recipe with you all! So in my running clothes I grabbed my camera and snapped away. So did James.

food photo session

Ingredients (serves 4-6, easily doubled)
Source: Adapted from Tasty Kitchen, James Beard Foundation

Braised Lentils

1 T.  Olive Oil
1 cup chopped  onion
1/2 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1-½ cup dried Lentils (I used green lentils)
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Or Vegetable Stock
2 T.  ground cumin
1 tsp.  Anise Seed
1 tsp. Paprika (regular or smoked)
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Cilantro Parsley Mint Pesto

1 bunch fresh cilantro
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
3 garlic cloves
olive oil

Lamb Meatballs

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
optional spices: paprika, coriander, cumin
Salt and pepper to taste


Braised Lentils

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Add swiss chard. Add a few dashes of cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. Add the lentils and stir to coat them with the oil.
  3. Stir in the stock and all of the spices, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the stock has been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. (This can be prepared up to an hour before and reheated on the stove when you’re ready to serve.
  4. Cook 1 cup quinoa according to packaging

Lamb Meatballs
Preheat oven to 350

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Cilantro Parsley Mint Pesto

  1. Combine the cilantro, parsley, mint, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, garlic cloves, and salt in a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Serve with the lentils whether you’ve added meat or not!


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Magnificent site. Lots of helpful info here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you on your sweat!|

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