Spicy Harissa Vegan Meatballs by @megjones.photography - Elfassy Foods

Spicy Harissa Vegan Meatballs by @megjones.photography - Elfassy Foods

Our lovely friend across the pond, Meg Jones, developed this recipe for us that checks all the boxes: vegan, gluten, dairy, & nut free. Check out her Instagram for this recipe and more delicious photography and also check out her site

Meg notes that the dried apricots are chopped finely and plump up nicely in the meatballs once cooked, keeping the meatballs moist and flavorful. She also boasts that when Kyle tried these for the first time, he said they were some of the best tasting meatballs he’s had in a long time, and my brother who usually hates dried apricots, did not even notice them hiding in the meatballs.

Serves 4 / makes 16 meatballs (4 meatballs per)
Prep time: 2 mins (including marinating time - can be up to 24 hours)
Cook time: ~40 minutes


  • 10-11oz/300g vegan ground meat, used Beyond ground meat here
  • 11 dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 3oz/80-100g soft gluten-free breadcrumbs, depending on how ‘wet’ the ground meat is you may need more
  • 3 medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1oz/30g pistachios or pine nuts, toasted, plus extra to serve (optional, makes the recipe not nut-free)
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped (half for meatballs, half for sauce)
  • 4 tbsp Elfassy Foods harissa paste *see note
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (only needed if pan frying the meatballs)
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (3 for meatballs, 3 cloves for the sauce)
  • 14oz/400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 14oz/400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2oz/50g vegan feta, crumbled store bought or try my feta recipe

Optional to serve:

  • 6-8 tbsp dairy free yogurt
  • 2oz/60g (approx) parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2/oz 50g (approx) fresh mint leaves finely sliced

*if you want it less spicy, use mild instead of hot or sub 2 tsps of the harissa paste with 2 tsps of tomato paste
*you can use this recipe for a non-vegan version and sub in ground beef/pork/veal 

*you can use this recipe for a non-gluten free version and sub in regular breadcrumbs


Set up your mise en place: chop up & weigh out all the ingredients.

  1. Combine the ground meat, apricots, breadcrumbs, half the onion and half the harissa paste into a large greased bowl
  2. Mix well, using clean hands, and roll into 28-30 meatballs, transfer to a plate or tray and chill for 10 minutes. The meatballs weighed around 1oz/30-32g each, this is enough for 4 meatballs per person (if serving 4 people)
  3. Air Fryer option: Arrange the meatballs in the air fryer, keeping them separate, and then air fry the meatballs until lightly golden brown all over (we are not cooking them fully, just giving them a golden crust so they hold together in the sauce) – you may need to do this in batches
    Pan Option: Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, deep frying pan and sear the meatballs until golden brown all over. Scoop out onto a plate when browned using a slotted spoon – you may need to do this in batches.
    we are not cooking them fully, just giving them a golden crust so they hold together in the sauce
  4. Scoop out onto a plate when browned using a flat spatula/spoon.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in the pan and sautée the remaining onion for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic, the remaining harissa and cook for 1 minute more until fragrant
  6. Add in the tomatoes, half fill the can with water swirl to get the last tomato bits out the can, then add the water to the pan, along with the drained chickpeas and pomegranate molasses
  7. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until nicely thickened and saucy
  8. If using an oven safe pan, you can add the meatballs to the sauce and cook in the oven at 400°F for 10-15 mins, turning once
  9. Nestle in the meatballs and pour in any resting juices, then return to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and have absorbed some of the sauce
  10. Optional: top with the feta and the pistachios/pine nuts, then top with a swirl of yogurt and the fresh herbs

Serve over fluffy couscous. Stuff into a pita pocket with pickled red onions or on a sandwich topped with the pan sauce. 

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