I know lots of folks are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today, and others are gearing up for Holi festivities, or a feast for Purim or Nowruz. I love it when various cultural holidays fall on the same day or weekend. It underlines how similar we all are, and how we relish the opportunity to celebrate a lot of the same things.
To mark the start of a new season, I’ve got a new recipe for you. Lamb meatballs, pungent with spring onions and lemony sumac, are served on top of a soft, green sauce made from herbs, feta and yogurt.
Start by chopping scallions and dill (or use parsley, cilantro or marjoram) in a food processor. Scoop out half of the chopped herbs and add them to a bowl with ground lamb — or, you could use this formula to make mushroom-walnut ‘meatballs.’ Garlic goes in, along with lots of sumac. The tangy spice is especially good with meats, but I use it in salads and stews, too. If you can’t find it, use lemon zest instead.
The meatballs stay tender thanks to the addition of rice cooked or breadcrumbs. I love how, once they’re roasted, the rice or breadcrumbs on their surface crisp and caramelize.
While the meatballs cook, add feta and yogurt to the herbs left in the food processor. They’ll produce a sauce that’s pale green and wonderfully tangy. It’s great with the meatballs, along with wedges of warm pita. Serve everything family style, for dipping and sharing, or make pita pocket sandwiches by smashing a meatball into halves of pita and drizzling on some sauce.
Lamb Meatballs With Sumac and Feta
- To make this vegan >> apply these flavors to this (or your favorite) meatless meatball recipe. Use a plain nondairy yogurt instead of the feta and yogurt, or make the sauce with silken tofu.
- Not into scallions? >> Use chives or skip them and use additional leafy herbs.
- Instead of lamb >> you could use beef or turkey.
- Out of rice and breadcrumbs? >> Omit them, but be sure not to overwork the mixture.
- Can’t find sumac? >> Use the zest of a large lemon.
- In place of feta >> try goat cheese, ricotta or just make this with yogurt.
- 5 scallions or spring onions, roughly chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh dill (1 ounce) or parsley, or a combination, roughly chopped, a few sprigs reserved for garnish
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 3/4 cup cooked rice or plain breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons ground sumac
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 ounces feta, roughly crumbled
- 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt, plus more as needed
- Flatbreads, cooked rice and/or salad, for serving (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil, if desired.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the scallions and dill and process or pulse until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a large bowl, combine the lamb, rice or breadcrumbs, garlic, sumac, salt, black pepper and about half of the chopped herbs (leave the remaining herbs in the food processor). Using your hands, gently mix everything together and form the mixture into 15 to 20 approximately 1-ounce meatballs. Place them, evenly spaced, on the rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
Meanwhile, add the feta and yogurt to the remaining herbs in the food processor and process until a bright green sauce forms, about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the sauce seems too thick, add 1 more tablespoon of yogurt.
To serve, spoon the sauce onto a large plate and top with the cooked meatballs. Garnish with sprigs of dill and serve with flatbreads, a salad or extra rice.
Per serving (4 or 5 meatballs, 1/4 cup sauce), based on 4
Calories: 417; Total Fat: 34g; Saturated Fat: 16g; Cholesterol: 110mg; Sodium: 995mg; Carbohydrates: 16 g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 27g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.
Catch up on this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes: