My roommate is very anti-recipe – he often cooks by making stuff up as he goes along, and by continuously tasting his food. This works out for him most of the time, when he doesn’t try anything too ambitious. I don’t always use recipes, but I do like to have a recipe on hand most of the time, even if I’m going to change lots of things anyway.

Today I was looking through a Syrian-Jewish cookbook I have, trying to find something to serve over couscous, when I came up with my own recipe: spiced turkey meatballs in a middle eastern flavored tomato sauce over couscous. A few minutes later, I turned some pages and found a recipe for exactly that. I don’t know whether I had a magic telepathic chef moment, or whether I had maybe read the recipe before and forgotten about it; either way it was exciting.

But I shut the book. Why follow the recipe when I have one in my head? I might as well give my own ideas a shot, and figure out things by tasting as I go – and that’s what I did.

It was a delicious, very hearty dish, though perhaps a mite less spicy than it would have been had I followed the recipe. It was also not very complicated or labor intensive to make, and it’s a fun alternative to Italian meatballs, if you have ground meat and are trying to figure out what to do with it.


The Sauce:


  1. 1. 1 onion, diced
  2. 2. 2 red bell peppers, diced
  3. 3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 4. 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  5. 5. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  6. 6. 2 teaspoons cumin
  7. 7. 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  8. 8. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 9. 1 teaspoon allspice
  10. 10. ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  11. 11. salt and pepper


  1. 1. Sautee the onion and pepper in a large pot or saucepan on medium heat until starting to get soft.
  2. 2. Add minced garlic.
  3. 3. Sautee 2 minutes more.
  4. 4. Add spices and stir, scraping up any browned bits.
  5. 5. Add tomato paste and then canned tomatoes; bring mixture to a simmer and turn heat to low.


The Meatballs:


  1. 1. 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
  2. 2. 1 large egg
  3. 3. ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  4. 4. 1 teaspoon cumin
  5. 5. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 6. ¼ teaspoon allspice
  7. 7. ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. 8. salt and pepper


  1. 1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, kneading the meat with your hands.
  2. 2. Shape mixture into balls and then place one by one into the sauce.
  3. 3. Turn heat up to medium, and cover pot with lid for 10 minutes.
  4. 4. After 10 minutes, turn the meatballs over in the sauce, then put the lid back on for another 7-10 minutes.

Serve the meatballs in sauce over couscous made following the package’s

instructions. Enjoy!

- Miriam ‘13