Lamb Meatballs with Couscous, Pickled Onions, and Tahini
Why this recipe works: Tahini, a potent paste made from toasted sesame seeds, has a texture similar to natural peanut butter. Apart from its being a core ingredient in hummus, we love it in our drizzle-friendly Tahini Sauce. We wanted this sauce to take center stage, so we made it do double duty by mixing it with bread crumbs as a riff on a panade (typically made from bread pieces soaked and mashed in milk or yogurt and then mixed into meatballs to keep them moist) and also spooning it over the finished meatballs on a bed of warmly spiced couscous with roasted red peppers and pickled onions. Lamb’s robust grassy flavor was a perfect companion to tahini’s smooth nuttiness. The meatballs cooked in just 1 minute under pressure, and as they rested separately, we simply stirred the couscous into the remaining liquid and allowed it to cook in the residual heat and absorb the bold and delicious flavors. You can substitute an equal amount of 85 percent lean ground beef for the lamb, if desired.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 1hour
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
4servings 1hour
Cook Time
Lamb Meatballs and Couscous Ingredients
  • 1/2cup Tahini Saucedivided, see below for instructions
  • 3tbsp panko bread crumbs
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 1/4cup chopped fresh mintdivided
  • 1tsp ground cinnamondivided
  • 1tsp ground cumindivided
  • 3/4tsp table saltdivided
  • 1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onionchopped fine
  • 1/8tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1cup chicken brothplus extra as needed
  • 1cup couscous
  • 1/2cup jarred roasted red peppersrinsed, patted dry, and chopped
  • 1tbsp teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1juice
  • 1/3cup Quick Pickled Onionssee below for instructions
Tahini Sauce Ingredients
  • 1/2cup tahini
  • 1/2cup Water
  • 1/4cup lemon juice(2 lemons)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
Quick Pickled Onions Ingredients
  • 1cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3cup sugar
  • 1/8tsp table salt
  • 1 red onionhalved and sliced thin through root end
Tahini Sauce Instructions
  1. Whisk all Tahini sauce ingredients in bowl until smooth (mixture will appear broken at first). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)
Quick Pickled Onions Instructions
  1. Microwave vinegar, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until simmering, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and let sit, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Drain onion and return to now-empty bowl. (Drained onions can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)
Lamb Meatballs and Couscous
  1. Using fork, mash 1/4 cup Tahini Sauce and panko together in bowl to form paste. Add ground lamb, 2 tablespoons mint, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and knead with hands until thoroughly combined. Pinch off and roll mixture into twelve 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
  2. Using highest Sauté function, heat oil in Instant Pot until shimmering. Add onion and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add meatballs to pot. Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select Pressure Cook function and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Turn off Instant Pot and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you. Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to plate, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while cooking couscous. (You should have about 2 cups cooking liquid remaining in pot; add extra broth as needed to equal 2 cups.)
  4. Using highest Sauté function, bring liquid in pot to simmer. Stir in couscous, red peppers, and lemon zest and juice. Turn off Instant Pot, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff couscous gently with fork and transfer to serving dish. Arrange meatballs on top and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup Tahini Sauce. Sprinkle with pickled onions and remaining 2 tablespoons mint. Serve.
Recipe Notes

*Pressure Cook and Manual buttons are interchangeable