This recipe is one of my all-time favorites. Not only because it’s Mediterranean, healthy, and the flavors are absolutely delicious, but because it’s really easy to make and my kids love it, too. There’s something about meatballs that seem to really work for kids. It’s probably because they’re fun to eat, but I’m fine with that. I’m honestly just happy to know they’re getting protein after a long day of growing, playing, and learning.
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There are three parts to this recipe, the meatballs, the sauce, and the side vegetables. I love to serve these all together, but each can totally stand on its own. Make the tzatziki for a party dip, the Greek salad for lunches, and the meatballs with hummus or to bring to a friend in need.
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Don’t let the seemingly long ingredient list turn you off, this recipe is basically just mixing everything to combine, other than browning the meatballs, there is no major technique here, and that’s what makes this one so approachable. Lamb Keftedes definitely deserve a spot in your regular dinnertime programming.
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- 1.5 lb ground lamb
- 1 cups breadcrumbs, plain
- 1 egg, large
- .5 red onion, minced
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- .25 cups parsley, fresh and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- .25 tsp red pepper flakes
- .33 cups flour, to coat each meatball
- oil, for cooking
- 2 cups 5% milkfat plain yogurt such as Fage, or whole plain Greek yogurt
- .5 European (seedless) cucumber, sliced thinly in quarters and then roughly chopped again
- .25 cups fresh dill, finely chopped
- .25 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped
- .5 lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
- 2 tbsp Greek olive oil
- 1 tsp flaked salt, such as Meldon Salt
The ground lamb can be substituted for beef or pork, or a combination of the two. If you have ground turkey or chicken, feel free to use that, too. A vegetarian version could potentially be made with firm tofu or cannellini beans. I haven’t tested for it, but if you’re up for the challenge, I say give it a try.
I give you an exact measurement for the fresh herbs, however eyeballing a small bunch of mint, and a palm-size bunch of parsley works, too.
Red pepper flakes.
This is an addition I think amplifies the flavors of the lamb, it doesn’t add a ton of spice, but if your kids are sensitive to heat, it may be best to omit.
I call for a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion out these meatballs. This size makes a relatively large meatball, so feel free to portion them smaller if you so desire.
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I ask you to brown the meatballs on the stove and finish them in the oven. I have a gas stove that just gets way too hot to cook these large meatballs through without getting too dark on the outside. I also prefer to finish the meatballs in the oven so I can spend time working on the tzatziki and Greek salad, and utilize that workflow. Traditional Keftedes are done entirely on the stovetop, and you’re welcome to do it that way, too.
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I call for regular ole’ breadcrumbs because I find it the most convenient, however, the day-old bread soaked in milk trick works wonders, too. If you have a preference, absolutely do it that way!
Now, you could totally buy it premade at the grocery store, and sometimes I do! But because you already need half of the ingredients, like the fresh herbs and garlic for the meatballs, and the cucumbers for the Greek salad, you might as well give my recipe a go. It’s truly so easy, and once you do it one time, you can eyeball it on your own every time after. It’s that simple, and freshly made always tastes so wonderful.
I do a simple mixture of fresh produce and briny olives and feta, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Feel free to toss it over greens, add Greek dressing, or make it your way! Just note, you’ll definitely want the side of vegetables with the meatballs to complete the meal.