Are you intimidated by working with “exotic” flavors?
I love a classic meatloaf and potatoes just as much as the next girl, but once in a while you need a little somethin’ somethin’ to wake up your taste buds.
Know what I’m sayin?
Ground lamb is one of my favorite meats to work with. It’s obviously less expensive than whole cuts of lamb (leg, rack, filet, etc.), but still packs a ton of gamey flavor, which I love. Having recently made my mint fettuccine with lamb ragu (amazing, by the way), I knew I wanted to go in a completely different direction.
Enter: Middle Eastern fare.
Sure, there’s still mint involved — lamb and mint? match made in heaven — but the flavor profile here is decidedly warm and spicy, in that fantastic Middle Eastern kind of way.
So. If your dinner plans are up in the air tomorrow night, what will you be making?
That’s right. Lamb kofte!
Make the yogurt sauce first. Combine 1 cup of plain, low-fat yogurt with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of tahini (if you’ve got it on hand). Mix, then chill in a refrigerator until ready to serve.
Kofte time. In a medium bowl, combine the ground lamb with the next eight ingredients (mint, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne).
Using slightly damp hands, mix ingredients together (until just combined), then form into small 1 1/2-inch meatballs.
Cook the meatballs in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet, about 8 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides and fully cooked through.
Dinner is served!
Well, almost. Just heat up the pita or flatbread (in an oven or microwave), add yogurt sauce, a few meatballs, some caramelized onions, and chopped roasted red peppers, and you’re good to go. Add some chopped parsley, too, if you’re into that.
I served our sandwiches with a healthy side dish of zucchini fritters. These lil guys are the ideal vessel for soaking up any leftover lamb drippings on your plate. Trust me.
Admittedly, the night I made this, John had to work late. I didn’t have any pita (he was going to pick some up on the way home), or roasted red peppers (he was going to pick some up on the way home…), so instead I made a little white rice. Mix the rice with a spoonful of yogurt sauce, then serve the meatballs on top.
And that, my friends, is how you spice up dinner.
Lamb Kofte with Yogurt Sauce
*Recipe adapted from Oui Chef.
Yields: 6-8 servings
Time: 35 minutes
- 1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
- 2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste) — optional
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
- 1/4 cup onion, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Flatbread or pita
- Roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
- Onion, thinly sliced and sautéed
- Parsley, chopped
- For the yogurt sauce: Stir all ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Cover and chill. (I didn’t have any tahini, and the sauce still worked well.)
- For the kofte: Line a large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix lamb and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Using moistened hands, roll into small 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Arrange on sheet.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the same skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Sauté meatballs until just cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes.
- To serve: Either on top of a flatbread or inside of a pita pocket, spread a dollop of the yogurt sauce. Add meatballs (I sliced mine to make them distribute more evenly within the sandwich), onions, sliced roasted red peppers, and parsley (optional garnish). Devour. Alternatively, if you are not using flatbread or pita, make some white rice, then mix the yogurt sauce with the rise and serve the meatballs and garnishes on top.