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U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Blueberry Mediterranean Meatballs
Blueberry Mediterranean Meatballs

Blueberry Mediterranean Meatballs

These delicious middle-eastern spiced meatballs are studded with dried blueberries and stewed in a blueberry molasses sauce. They’re perfect topped with preserved lemon yogurt, spicy harissa, blueberry-infused feta cheese crumbles, and blueberry-balsamic reduction, all served with warm pita bread. They can also easily be adapted to other cuisines by switching the proteins, spices, and accompaniments – Italian, Mexican, North African, the possibilities are endless.

Ingredients

Blueberry Mediterranean Meatballs

  • 4 cups dried sweetened blueberries
  • 4 cups grated white onion
  • 2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 ounces salt
  • 1 cup water, room temperature

Meatball Simmer Sauce

  • 2 cups diced white onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 bay leaves

Blueberry Balsamic Glaze

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups blueberry juice
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar

Preserved Lemon Labneh

  • 9 cups labneh
  • 1 3/4 cups preserved lemons

Blueberry Feta Crumbles

  • 3 cups feta crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons blueberry powder

Final Assembly Ingredients

  • 72 blueberry Mediterranean meatballs
  • 10 3/4 cups preserved lemon labneh
  • 3 cups spicy harissa
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberry feta crumbles
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberry balsamic glaze
  • 24 pieces of pita bread
  • 2 cups chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Blueberry Mediterranean Meatballs

  1. Combine all ingredients for meatballs in a mixer with paddle attachment and mix until well incorporated.
  2. Using a 1.5 oz portion scoop, form meatballs and place on a lined sheet pan.
  3. Cook one meatball to test the flavor before wrapping, labeling, and dating the sheet pan overnight and storing in the refrigerator. Prepare sauce and finish meatballs on the day of service.

Meatball Simmer Sauce

  1. In a 5-quart saute pan on medium heat, sautee the onions and carrots until aromatic, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add beef broth, blueberry juice, molasses, and bay leaf to the pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Place meatballs in single layer in the simmer sauce, cover, and cook for 2 hours or until tender on low-heat.
  4. Transfer cooked meatballs and simmer sauce in a 4″ full-hotel pan, cover with foil, and hold hot through service (or keep chilled under 40°F until service time, then reheat).

Blueberry Balsamic Glaze

  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently.
  2. Reduce until nappe consistency or to about 1 1/2 cups.
  3. Store in labeled and dated squeeze bottle until service.

Preserved Lemon Labneh

  1. Mince the rind of the preserved lemon.
  2. Mix in with the labneh until fully incorporated.
  3. Label and date a large container and store in a refrigerator.

Blueberry Feta Crumbles

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Coat feta crumbles with blueberry powder.
  2. Store in a labeled and dated container in the refrigerator.

Final Assembly Instructions

  1. Spoon preserved-lemon on bottom of plate, left of center and spread with back of spoon.
  2. Arrange 3 meatballs on top of preserved lemon labneh.
  3. Top the meatballs with a dollop of the spicy harissa sauce.
  4. Sprinkle blueberry-feta crumbles over meatballs.
  5. Drizzle blueberry-balsamic reduction over meatballs.
  6. Serve with a side of warmed pita bread and garnish with parsley.

Notes

Labneh can be substituted with plain Greek yogurt.

Ground beef can be substituted with ground pork.