Meatballs with Pomegranates and Walnuts

While visiting Lisa a few months ago, I came across a cookbook where I wanted to basically cook everything since every photograph was so fantastic.  This book was Jewish Soul Food and it seemed appropriate to pull a few recipes from here for cooking for the holidays.


This one in particular caught my eye as I loved the colorful mix of the bright pomegranates and the green parsley, and also just because I love good meatballs and like the excuse to use pomegranates.


The recipe is also pretty easy to make, it just has a few steps and so requires a bit of patience.  The original recipe is called “Fesenjan” and is apparently from someone who owns a restaurant called Gohar and is favored by Persian Jews.


Usually getting the seeds out of the pomegranates make my kitchen look a bit like a red juice grenade was thrown rather rudely.  Thankfully Lysol wipes and paper towels make clean up an easy job, and there’s always the huge upside of a bowl of seeds that basically taste like candy.  When there’s only one bowl (such as below), Matt and I are often dueling spoons to shovel as many seeds into our stomachs as quickly as possible.


It takes us quite a bit of self-control to make sure to save the seeds for garnish!


For the meatballs
1 onion
2 lb ground beef
7 oz walnuts, finely chopped in a food processor
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
10 oz walnuts, finely chopped
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup Date honey (or 1/3 cup regular honey)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (or syrup)
Fresh pomegranate seeds (for garnish, optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Prepare the meatballs by grating the onion on a coarse grater, and squeezing out the extra liquid.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the meat, walnuts, onion, parsley, bread crumbs, olive oil, cumin, pepper, and salt.  Knead thoroughly with your hands.
  4. Wet your hands or rub them with oil and form meatballs the size of golf balls.  Transfer to a baking sheet.
  5. Bake the meatballs for 12-15 minutes, until they start to turn golden.
  6. Prepare the sauce by heating the vegetable oil in a large wide saucepan (or two – I had to use two so that all the golf ball meatballs would comfortably sit, and then I split the sauce between the two pans).  Add onion and cook until golden.  Add the garlic and ginger and sauté briefly, until fragrant.  Add the ground walnuts and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.
  7. Add the boiling water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, slide the meatballs into the pan and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover and simmer for an hour.  Add the date honey and the pomegranate molasses and simmer for another 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds (if using.)

Serves 4-6

From Jewish Soul Food by Janna Gur

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