Tag Archives: kefta

Braised Lamb and Feta Meatballs

Lamb Meatballs tastefood

Moroccan lamb kefta meets smothered Italian meatball: Two of my favorite recipes are rolled into one fragrant, warming and satisfying dish. I took my go-to  lamb keftas and fluffed them up with breadcrumbs, egg and a nugget of feta nestled in the centers before browning them in a skillet. I then popped them into the oven to braise and finish cooking in a blanket of my roasted tomato-pepper sauce. Just like Italian meatballs marinara, these lamb meatballs are very comforting, and I dare say even more tasty with the addition of North African spices and heat.

Braised Lamb Meatballs with Feta
Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds ground lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup panko
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces feta, cut into (1 cm.) cubes

2 cups Roasted Tomato Pepper Sauce
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or mint leaves

1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the feta, in a bowl. Using your hands, gently mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
2. Shape the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls. Make a small indentation in the centers with your thumb and insert a feta cube, then close the meat around it. Place the meatballs on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, without overcrowding, and brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 5 minutes. (The meatballs will not be cooked through at this point. They will continue to cook in the sauce.) Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
4. Add the sauce to the skillet and cook briefly over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Return the meatballs to the skillet and nestle them in the sauce, turning to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked through, about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, sprinkle the crumbled feta over the lamb.
5. Serve with couscous or rice and garnish with chopped mint or cilantro.

Lamb Merguez Patties with Couscous Salad

merguez tastefood

~ Moroccan Spiced Lamb Merguez Patties ~

Feeling spicy? When I crave a good dose of spice and fragrance I head to Asia, the Middle East or North Africa…in my dreams. In reality I head to my kitchen, where I fling open the spice cabinet and get cooking. I made these merguez patties recently when I was craving the heat and heady flavors of Morocco: harissa, garlic, coriander and mint. These feisty patties hit the spot – well, an airline ticket would have really hit the spot, but, hey, this was a pretty good stand in for a school night.

What really tipped these patties for me was the use of whole spices that I toasted and ground in my mortar. If you haven’t tried doing this, then you are missing a big component in the flavor department. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and the results are well worth it. Whole spices are readily found in the spice section of your supermarket, gourmet and spice shops – even online. When you are ready to use the spice, toast the seeds  in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then transfer to a spice grinder or a mortar, and blitz or pound the spices until fine. The flavor is lightyears better than the pre-ground stuff.

Spicy Lamb Merguez with Couscous Tabbouleh
Makes 18 to 20 patties

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 pounds ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Grind to a fine powder in a mortar with pestle. Transfer the remaining merguez ingredients to a large bowl. Add the toasted spices and mix until combined without overworking the meat. Form in 2 to 3 inch patties. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling. Grill over direct high heat or pan-fry in olive oil over medium-high heat, turning once, until brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve with couscous salad (recipe below), pita bread, Greek yogurt, fresh mint and extra harissa if you’re feeling really spicy.

Couscous Salad
This is a great side dish to accompany the lamb or any grilled meat. Or crumble feat cheese over the salad for a light vegetarian meal.

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the couscous, water, lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Let stand until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Lentil Falafel

lentil falafel tastefood

~Lentil Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Tahini Sauce and Mint~

These patties are a cross between falafel and keftas. They are a terrific vegetarian meal or appetizer. We dipped them in a spicy yogurt sauce, but you can also stuff them in pita pockets with a spoonful of sauce and a handful of fresh mint or cilantro.

Lentil Falafel
Makes approximately 16 patties

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 cup medium-grind bulgur
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Vegetable oil for pan-frying

Sauce:
1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the lentils and bulgur in a medium bowl. Ad the olive oil and lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and add the remaining falafel ingredients. Pulse to form a chunky paste.

With wet hands lightly form the lentils in 1 1/2-inch patties about 1/2-inch thick. The mixture will be sticky and you will need to rinse your hands between batches.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties in batches without overcrowding. Cook until golden brown and heated through, turning once with a spatula. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining patties.

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve falafel with sauce on the side for dipping. Or stuff 1 to 2 patties in mini-pita pockets, then add a spoonful of sauce and fresh mint leaves.

Tip: For completely different rendition, don’t process in the food processor. Simply dump the mixture in a skillet with a little olive oil and saute over medium-high heat until hot and slightly crispy. Serve as an alternative to rice or pilaf.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers

Lamb Keftas TasteFood
~ Grilled Moroccan Lamb Keftas, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Tsatsiki ~

There is something utterly complete about this meal. Homemade ground lamb keftas, fragrant with Moroccan spices, are grilled until crisp and succulent. Served with a sweet and spicy red pepper puree and cool minty yogurt sauce, these addictive morsels hit all flavor notes. They are a great option for party food, easy to prepare in advance and economical in ingredients. Just be warned that your guests will inhale these skewers before you blink, so you might need to splurge on a double recipe.

Spicy Lamb Kefta Skewers

Serves 4 to 6

Keftas:
2 pounds ground lamb
1 small onion, minced, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Extra-virgin olive oil

Tsatstiki:
1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
1 small English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Pita bread
Fresh mint leaves

Prepare the keftas: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine, without over-mixing. With a light hand, form a handful of the meat around a skewer into a sausage, about 2-inches long by 1-inch wide. Place on a tray or platter. Repeat with remaining meat. Lightly brush the keftas with olive oil. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Prepare the tsatsiki: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until use.

Grill the keftas over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning once or twice. (Or broil in the oven). Serve warm with tsatsiki, red pepper sauce and pita. Garnish with mint leaves.

My Big Fat Greek Dinner: Grilled Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers


Greek Plate

Labor Day is fast approaching and what better way to close out the summer than with a Greek inspired grill party? These Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers are perfect for the barbeque. Their spice and heat stand up well to the char from the grill, especially when accompanied by a fiery Harissa and a creamy Tsatsiki as condiments. Round out the menu with a Fattoush Salad and Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Mint. By the end of the meal your tastebuds will be singing, and your guests will be begging for more. What else could you ask for? Oh, yes – a nice wine and perhaps a little Ouzo.

Grilled Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers
Makes 16

16 (8 inch) bamboo skewers

2 pounds ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Exta-virgin olive oil for brushing
Pita bread

Pre-soak bamboo skewers in warm water 30 minutes before assembling kebabs.
Combine the lamb, herbs and spices in a bowl; mix well. Gather a small handful of the meat in your hand and form it lengthwise around a skewer so that the meat is covering 2/3 of the skewer. Place on plate or tray. Repeat with remaining meat and skewers. Lightly brush the kebabs with olive oil.  (Kebabs may be prepared to this point up to 6 hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.)
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Grill directly over heat, turning to brown on all sides, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Serve with pita bread, tsatsiki and harissa.

Lamb Kefta and Vegetable Couscous

Lamb Couscous

This recipe is inspired by the flavors of Morocco. Ground spiced lamb patties are oven-grilled, then added to a rich stew of winter vegetables infused with cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Served on a bed of couscous, this warming dish is heady with exotic flavors and spice – perfect for a winter dinner.

Lamb Kefta and Vegetable Couscous

While this recipe has several steps, it is easy to prepare. The lamb keftas may be assembled in advance and broiled at the end while the stew is simmering. Feel free to improvise with the vegetables for the stew. Pumpkin is a nice substitute for rutabaga, and cauliflower is interchangeable with broccoli romanesco, as pictured above. Be sure to serve the couscous with lots of the sauce from the stew. Serves 4-6.

For the Lamb Keftas:
1 1/2 lbs. (750 g.) ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for brushing
2 teaspoons dried cumin
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves

Prepare:
Combine lamb and all other ingredients except cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Thoroughly mix to combine well. Stir in cilantro leaves. Form 2″ patties. (Keftas may be prepared to this point up to 6 hours in advance. Place on plate and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before broiling.) Place keftas on lightly oiled broiler pan with tray. Lightly brush lamb with olive oil. Broil in oven until dark golden brown, turning once.

For the vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, cut in 1/4″ slices
1 medium rutabaga, peeled, cut in 1″ pieces
1 small head cauliflower or broccoli romanesco, broken in 1″ florets
1 red pepper, cut in 1/2″ pieces
2 teaspoons dried cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups chicken stock
1 – 14 oz. (400 g.) can plum tomatoes with juices
1  – 15 oz.(425 g.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 cups Swiss chard leaves, rinsed, chopped in 2″-3″ pieces

For the couscous:
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves for garnish
Harissa

Prepare:
Heat olive oil in deep sauté pan or stock pot. Add onion and garlic and sauté one minute. Add carrots, rutabaga, cauliflower and red pepper. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, coriander and cinnamon and stir to combine with vegetables. Add chicken stock and tomatoes with juices. Simmer until vegetables are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Stir in chick peas and Swiss chard. Cover pot and simmer until chard is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

While stew is simmering, prepare couscous. Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, olive oil and salt. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

To serve, spoon coucous onto large serving platter or individual serving plates, leaving a well in the center. Pour stew into the center, reserving some of the broth. Place Lamb keftas over stew. Pour extra broth over lamb and vegetables. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.  Serve with Harissa on the side.