Wednesday, July 16, 2014


If you like the sultry, exotic spices of North Africa and the Middle East, you'll like this chicken meatball sandwich. No, you'll love this chicken meatball sandwich. It's got flavor boosters in every component, and your kitchen will emit all the aromas of a Moroccan spice tent. 

And please don't let the large ingredient list inhibit you, because you know if I made it- it's not hard, but it sure is delish! And there's not an ingredient in this recipe that you can't easily pick up in your local supermarket. When I'm pressed for time, I make the meatballs on day one, then put the barley salad together the day I'm ready to serve these little darlings.

Saucy Chicken Meatball Pita Sammies with Pearl Barley Salad
Serves 5

5 pita rounds 6" diameter
1 small bag of baby spinach

1 large egg slightly beaten
2 T tomato paste (I use the paste in a tube)
3 T chopped cilantro
1 T fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
1-1/2 slices Italian bread ground in spice mill
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken

1 T olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 T garlic minced
1 lemon zested
1/2 cup kalamata olives chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
1/4 cup water
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Barley Salad
2 cups cooked pearl barley
1/2 cup chopped canned artichoke hearts
1/2 cup diced feta cheese
1/3 cup raisins plumped in boiling water
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
1/3 cup sliced scallions 1/4"
2 T cilantro chopped

2 lemons juiced
2 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil

Okay, lets do this with a few pictures.
To make the meatballs:
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Combine all meatball ingredients except the chicken.

Now add the chicken and combine without working the mixture too much.

Form 15 to 16 1-1/2"meatballs and place on prepared baking pan and cook 30 minutes.

To make the sauce:
While meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. In large saucepan heat oil on low. Saute onion for 5 minutes to soften. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes more. Now add the lemon zest and olives. Cook a few minutes more. Increase heat a bit and add white wine. Cook until wine is almost evaporated and veggies/aromatics do not burn. Stir in water, tomato sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Return to low simmer, cover and wait for meatballs to be ready to take a bath in the sauce. After their 30 minutes in the oven, add the meatballs to the aromatic tomato broth. Lower heat, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Now doesn't that look yummy?

To make the salad:
Cook barley according to package directions and cool. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and toss.

To make the dressing:
Combine all ingredients in a small jar, shake to combine and pour about half the mixture on the barley salad (save the rest to drizzle on sandwiches).

I like to grill my pita rounds on both sides so they are soft, warm and toasty. Lay a handful of baby spinach leaves on the bottom of each pita round.

To each pita round, top with 3 meatballs and an extra helping of the exotic tomato sauce. Add the barley salad, a little more lemon dressing and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs. Roll up and enjoy your meal in the casbah.

I have also enjoyed this sandwich with a Roasted Garlic, Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce. Here's a quick recipe for that:

2 cups Greek yogurt (I never have to drain this if it's Greek yogurt, but if you use regular, drain to let the liquid escape)
1 English cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped or grated
1 T red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon squeezed
1 T olive oil
1 clove roasted garlic
pinch of black pepper

Mix all ingredients together, chill, then top your meatball pitas with it. Very yummy.


Melissa said...

Wowee, so many flavors happening here...the sweet raisins are probably fantastic with the salty feta cheese. I'm drooling! Great one Linda xoxo

Linda said...

Thanks so much for your comment Melissa. I hope you give this a try. If not the meatballs, maybe the salad. Because you're right- the raisins, olives and feta really wake up the tastebuds. Lovin you always, my Divine Miss M xxoo

Helene Mulvihill said...

Wow Linda this looks so delicious!! What a great pic and recipe!! You inspire me so much!!

Linda said...

Thanks Helene, you're quite an inspiration yourself!