Thursday, April 23, 2015

Greek Turkey Meatballs

Since I'm half Middle Eastern, the sunny flavors in this dish are close to my heart. I've been making these meatballs for twenty years. A bit of oregano and a pinch of cinnamon give them an Eastern Mediterranean vibe. The delicious aromas of this dish remind me of my Lebanese grandmother. She cooked beautiful meals in her little, yellow, Brooklyn apartment kitchen. She taught me to add a pinch of cinnamon to savory dishes to give them an authentic taste.

My husband loves these meatballs so much that he learned how to make them. This is a minor miracle, since he doesn't like to cook. They're juicy, with golden-brown exteriors, fresh and flavorful with a light texture. They're delicious dipped into plain thick yogurt or my lime-tzatziki sauce. A healthy meal can be ready in 30 minutes. Warm some pita and enjoy!  


Greek Turkey Meatballs with Lime-Tzatziki Sauce

Makes 12 Meatballs 

Some Notes:

You can riff on this basic recipe by adding dried mint and pine nuts to the meatballs to spin them in a Lebanese direction. My grandmother would happily approve.

If you're not in the mood to make the lime-tzatziki sauce , they're just as good dipped into plain full fat or 2 percent Greek yogurt, Labneh (Lebanese strained yogurt) or lite sour cream.  

I use the smallest holes on a box grater to grate the onion. The onion makes the meatballs super juicy.

A pinch of cinnamon is wonderful in this meatball mix. It's a common spice used in both Greek and Middle Eastern cooking.  Trust me and don't skip it. Try not to overcook the meatballs

Lemon can be swapped for lime.

If you want to round out this Eastern Mediterranean meal, make my Rice Pilaf WIth Toasted Orzo and my Ultra Creamy Hummus with Greek Salsa  Ultra Creamy Hummus With Mediterranean Salsa or my Restaurant Style Hummus With Smoked Paprika Drizzle .   

Ingredients For The Meatballs

  • A 16 to 20-ounce package of ground turkey or ground chicken
  • A handful of finely chopped parsley 
  • 1 small onion, grated (see notes)  
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, dried mint or Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I use fine sea salt.
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • To Serve: lime or lemon wedges, tzatziki sauce  

Ingredients for the Lime-Tzatziki Sauce

  • 16-ounces of full fat labneh (Lebanese strained yogurt) or Greek yogurt. You can also use 2 percent Greek yogurt.
  • 2 small cucumbers, grated. I use Persian or diva cucumbers.
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced. 
  • 1 lime
  • Sriracha sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mint (optional)
  • Salt to taste. I use fine sea salt 

Instructions For the Lime-Tzatziki Sauce

If your cucumbers have big seeds and tough skins, remove both. Grate the cucumber directly into a medium bowl using the large holes of a box grater. Grate the garlic on the smallest holes. Stir in the yogurt and add a couple of good squeezes of lime juice. Salt to taste. Stir in some sriracha sauce and mint if you're in the mood. Serve immediately with the meatballs.    

Instructions For The Meatballs

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients for the meatballs, except for the olive oil. Form the mixture into balls the size of golf balls. You should have about 12 meatballs. Put some olive oil in a large skillet and turn the heat on medium to medium-high. Pan fry the meatballs, until all the sides are nicely browned. Once they've started to brown, you can loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil to help cook their centers. Be careful not to overcook. They cook fast. Once the meatballs have browned and are cooked through, squeeze some lime juice over them and serve with the lime-tzatziki sauce.

Bon Appetit!

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