Vegan Moroccan Meatballs

Vegan Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous // The Laidback VeganThis recipe is part of the Yours & Mine series, providing recipes that let you eat a vegan version while serving up the same meal to your beloved carnivore.. complete with, well, meat!

These Moroccan meatballs are the veganization of one of our absolute favorite meals–the kind that you try on a whim, maybe the ingredients sound good or whatever, and when you take that first bite, you both look at each other and simultaneously groan.

Vegan Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous // The Laidback Vegan

“It’s soooo good”, you mutter to one another, amid forkfuls of the tender meatballs, fortified with grassy cilantro, in a beautifully spiced tomato sauce, dotted with kalamata olives, over fluffy couscous and plumped dates. “So.. soo.. so good.”

“Is there more?” O asks, just curious, of course. But no, there’s not. Because we’re already portions for giants, as I anticipated this situation after a spy taste in the kitchen, standing over an aromatic pot of simmering meatballs, hints of a Moroccan market wafting up from the stove.

Vegan Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous // The Laidback Vegan
Naturally, there was no way I could let this recipe go to waste once we decided to go vegan. Instead, I gave it a 5-star veganization treatment and blew myself away with the results. I had a bag of dried TVP (textured vegetable protein, which even sounds terrifyingly processed) in the pantry I planned on turning into meatballs, but upon a bit of research, threw away those creepy pellets and whipped up a batch of exceptionally tender seitan, which I then ground in the food processor. I found the resulting texture to be very similar to that of ground beef, and the flavor even better! Unlike ground meat, seitan retains its tender texture and nutty flavor throughout the cooking process, still allowing the cilantro and ginger to shine through the meatballs.

Vegan Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous // The Laidback VeganI actually created this recipe as a solution to O’s general meat-nagging (you know, the nagging to eat meat) and pretty consistent demands for this dish. I essentially created the sauce for two of us, then split it up to simmer the meatballs after they’d finished baking. I prepared the meatball ingredients for the two of us (except for his meatballs’ egg) and split them up to make two different little “batches”. It worked quite well for us, and the results were just positively delicious. For just a bit more work, you can satisfy the meat-eater in your life, whilst serving yourself a healthy, plant-based meal that’ll help lengthen your life, lessen your environmental impact on the planet, and give you more energy!

Vegan Moroccan Meatballs and Sauce over Couscous with Dates
Serves 2
Tender, flavorful vegan meatballs in a Moroccan-spiced sauce with kalamata olives over a bed of fluffy couscous with dates. What's not to love?
Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
1005 calories
163 g
0 g
25 g
24 g
3 g
793 g
1526 g
23 g
0 g
21 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1005
Calories from Fat 220
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 16g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1526mg
Total Carbohydrates 163g
Dietary Fiber 16g
Sugars 23g
Protein 24g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 small onion, diced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  4. 1 lemon, zested
  5. 1/2 cup pitted and chopped briny olives, like kalamata
  6. 1/2 cup white wine
  7. 1/4 cup veggie stock or broth
  8. 1 (14-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes, preferably crushed
  9. 1 teaspoon light brown sugar, or sweetener such as agave or maple for unprocessed eating
  10. 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  11. Pinch ground cinnamon
  12. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Meatballs
  1. 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
  2. 3 tablespoons water
  3. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  4. 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  5. 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. Pinch ground cinnamon
  8. 2 scant cups ground seitan
  9. 1/3 cup finely ground rolled oats or fine bread crumbs
  10. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  11. chopped freshly parsley, for garnish
  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1 cup veggie stock or broth
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped dried dates
  5. 1 cup quick-cooking couscous, preferably whole wheat
  6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Stir together 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal and 3 tablespoons water and let sit about 10 minutes, or until gelly and gooey. This is your "egg" -- if you're shorter on time, use slightly warm water, as this speeds up the process.
  3. Next, in a medium bowl, combine your flaxseed-water "egg" and tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add the cilantro, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon and mix until well blended. Stir in the ground seitan and ground oats, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and combine gently after each addition. Do not overmix. Rolling with your hands, make about 32 meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake the meatballs about 15-20 minutes, or until almost browning. Meanwhile, make your sauce.
  5. Now, to make the sauce! In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and olives and cook for 1 more minute. Add the white wine, deglaze the pan, and let it reduce for a 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, canned tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon, and simmer to blend flavors, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Once the meatballs are finished cooking, transfer them gently to the saucepan with the sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make your couscous!
  7. Bring the water, stock, and oil to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the dates followed by the couscous. Cover the pan tightly with a lid, remove from the heat, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Divide up your couscous into individual bowls, spoon meatballs and sauce over couscous, and garnish with fresh parsley. Nom nom!
Adapted from Melissa d'Arabian
Adapted from Melissa d'Arabian
The Laidback Vegan
Recipe Name
Vegan Moroccan Meatballs
Published On
Total Time
Average Rating
5 Based on 1 Review(s)


  1. says

    Looks and sounds phenomenal! Awesome flavors. I live with a meat-eater too, and I like the idea of having him cook his own meatballs but still sharing a meal together.

    • Cheryl Hurley says

      It worked really well for us! They taste remarkably similar to the MEATballs. They actually might have been even more tender! O definitely stole a few of mine :)

    • Cheryl Hurley says

      I bet you could just drain store bought seitan and then grind it. I get it would work very well! :)

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