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When I was in high school, a couple of my basketball teammates and I decided to give up sugar for a month during the middle of the season. Motivated by nothing in particular, we set out to see if we could withstand this self-imposed challenge. This meant that when we’d eat at our pasta parties (a team dinner the night before a game that’s hosted by one of the team members–just suburban high school mems!), we had to be sure not to let our guard down. Whatever! It’s fine! We didn’t need those brownies anyway!
At one random pasta party, we were all chowing down on a plate of meatballs when the teammate who was hosting the party (and who also conveniently was not participating in the no sugar challenge) asked us if we were enjoying our dinners. We all nodded enthusiastically, only to watch the fattest grin of all time spread across her face. “There’s sugar in those meatballs,” she giggled. Cool. Coolcoolcool.
I’m not sure why she felt so impassioned to ruin our beloved no-sugar streak, but looking back, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. A good meatball can benefit greatly from a subtle ping of sweetness. In these tasty lamb meatballs, the dish gets its sweetness from the addition of pomegranate molasses in the pan sauce. If you’ve never cooked with pomegranate molasses, I would strongly encourage you to run, not walk, to the store to pick up a bottle. This stuff is addictive and tastes delicious with Mediterranean-inspired foods, making it the perfect dose of sweetness for this hearty lamb dish. Trust us, you’re going to be licking the skillet for every last drizzle of sauce that’s in there.
If you’re like me and are balling on a budget (pun definitely intended), you could very well swap out half of the ground lamb with ground turkey or ground beef in order to save a few bucks. However, this tasty lamb dinner is definitely worth the splurge, so don’t be afraid to go all out. Serve it over a bed of rice or a smear of Greek yogurt, and don’t forget to give it a heavy garnish of fresh mint. Whatever you do, don’t leave out that pomegranate molasses–even if you’re giving up sugar for a month.
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