Total Time
Prep 30 mins
Cook 20 mins

The small amount of beef in these artichoke meatballs helps hold them together. If artichokes are unavailable, substitute plain mashed potatoes. Canned or Jarred artichokes will save a lot time. This recipe is by Nancy Harmon Jenkins from the Devine Secrets of the Mahjoub Sisterhood, North Africa. Note: Tabil is made with onions and garlic dried in the strong Tunisian sun. For a close approximation, toast 3 tablespoons of caraway seeds, 1/2 cup of coriander seeds and 3 seeded dried red chiles in a large skillet over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then grind the mixture to a powder. Store the tabil in a jar in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. MAKE AHEAD: The meatballs can be fried up to 6 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat in a 350° oven for 10 minutes. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the top third and the stem off each artichoke. Snap off the outer leaves and with a small, sharp knife, trim the tough green skin from around each artichoke. Rub the artichokes all over with the lemon halves.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the artichokes and simmer until tender when pierced through the bottom, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. With a spoon, scoop out the hairy chokes. Roughly chop the artichokes, then put them in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. You should have about 3 cups.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the artichokes with the beef, scallions, parsley, bread crumbs, Gruyère, capers, tabil, pepper, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add 3 tablespoons of the paprika and the eggs and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  4. Form the meat mixture into 3 dozen tablespoon-size meatballs. Form each ball into a football shape, then dredge in flour.
  5. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Working in 2 batches, fry the meatballs over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until deep brown, about 12 minutes; reduce the heat if the meatballs start browning too quickly. Transfer the meatballs to paper towels to drain; keep warm.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of paprika and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Spoon the sauce onto a large platter. Set the meatballs on the sauce and serve.
Most Helpful

These were very good! Admittedly, I had to make some changes, like using turkey, and I did not end up having enough artichokes, so I decreased all the other ingredients, except the meat. I also baked/broiled these. I am hoping there is a typo in the introduction, that it should be keeping the meatballs in the frig, not at room temperature for 6 hours, since that would not be good food safety.

Maito September 14, 2009

Yum! I was reluctant to try this recipe because of the number of ingredients that I did not have on hand, but I am glad that I gave it a chance! The flavors in the meatballs blend together so well; I would have never guessed that they had all of this stuff in them. I made them as instructed, except in the manner that they are cooked. I fried the first one but the smoke alarm went off so I decided was a bad idea. Instead, I put them on a jelly rolly with a hearty drizzle of olive oil and cooked them at about 450F until crispy. The fried one was a bit crispier, but the baked ones were still very good; i would recommend baking if you are looking to cut down on the fat or if you are like me and can't fry to save your life ;)

Oenophilly October 17, 2008

ZWT4: These are OUT of this WORLD!! We made piggies out of ourselves on these!! I even managed to pry half the meatballs from our hands to freeze for another night!! Thank you also for the tip on tabil - that was really helpful!

Mom2Rose June 27, 2008