Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill

It’s time to get fresh and meaty. I created this recipe for an upcoming class I am teaching at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, California on Scandinavian cooking. While traditional Scandinavian cooking may be heavy and meat focused (especially in the winter) it delightfully tips to an abundance of fresh produce in the warmer, brighter summer months. This recipe marries the Nordic climate extremes with a spin on the Swedish meatball, which is traditionally pan-fried and then napped with a warm cream sauce. These ground meat patties are transformed into fun finger food, freshened and brightened with tufts of parsley and dill. The heavy sauce is replaced by crisp lettuce leaves for wrapping  and a sweet-piquant cranberry compote and a dab of yogurt. 

Lettuce Pockets with Spiced Meatballs, Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill

In Sweden, lingonberries, also known as cowberries, are prolific in the late summer. Cranberries may be substituted for the lingonberries. If you can’t find any rye bread crumbs, then panko will do. Makes about 28 meatballs.

For the compote:
2 cups cranberries or lingonberries
½ cup granulated sugar
1 sprig rosemary

For the meatballs:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped, about ½ cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 large eggs
¾ cup breadcrumbs (panko or rye)
½ cup milk
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Baby Gem leaves or Napa cabbage leaves
Parsley and/or dill sprigs
Cranberry Compote (recipe below)

Prepare the compote:
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries break down and compote thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Remove and discard rosemary sprig.

Prepare the meatballs:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Saute until softened but not browned, 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients except for the remaining butter. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients to uniformly combine without over mixing. With a light hand form meat in 1 ½ inch meatballs. Place on a platter.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add meatballs in batches without overcrowding. Saute until browned on both sides and thoroughly cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining meatballs. If necessary, add more butter. Keep warm.

To serve, place 1 to 2 meatballs in center of lettuce leaf. Spoon a little compote and yogurt over. Garnish with parsley and dill sprigs. Roll up and eat.

13 thoughts on “Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill

  1. This looks amazing, light and healthy. Thanks for sharing.. I can not wait to actually make it myself. I love the fact that you are combining the Cranberry compote with it. Yummy


  2. Love this – I have a bag of cranberries in my freezer and ground turkey to sub for the ground beef and pork – although the gb and pork sound tastier…

  3. What a wonderful combination of flavors! I love the cranberry sauce addition. I’ll look for lingonberries – I see them every once in awhile. Good luck with your upcoming class! Very exciting!

  4. I’m a Finn and I love love swedish meatballs. Usually we eat them with the mashed potatoes but this is a welcome twist to it! Making these to my next dinner party!!!!

  5. Lynda,

    These wraps look delicious! I enjoy cooking and eating Swedish meatballs every winter, but I never thought of adapting with fresh tastes for the summertime. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. How healthy & unique flavors. I love meatballs of any kind. Cant wait to try this compote as soon as autumn knocks here. The lettuce pockets sound yum!

  7. A marvelous idea and combination! So tasty and wonderfully Scandinavian. I love sweet and savory food.



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