Greek Lamb Meatballs with Tzaziki

I've got to say, I've never been a huge fan of meatloaf, but I LOVE meatballs. (I'll pause here for you to make a juvenile joke at which I would most certainly roll my eyes but also laugh.) I love how adaptable they are to whatever flavor profile you're looking for, how you can make them with any type of ground meat, how they can be the centerpiece of a whole meal or one of many key elements, how the very process of making them encourages a certain level of zen, and, perhaps most of all, how they can be made in advance. (I'm all about the advance prep around here if you haven't noticed.)


Here, I've used ground lamb and my Greek Island Spice Blend to make some delightful meatballs, which I've served on a big platter along with a tangy tzaziki (a Greek yogurt and cucumber dip/sauce/bowl of magic), as well as some hummus, flatbread, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and feta. It is, all in all, a delightful finger food meal. If you don't like lamb or can't find any, you can just as easily substitute ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey.



Greek Lamb Meatballs with Tzaziki


Serves 4


Ingredients:


For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 pound ground lamb (or beef or chicken or turkey or... you get it)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon Greek Island Spice Blend

  • Kosher salt and black pepper


For the Tzaziki:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 1-2 small Persian cucumbers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 cup total)

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 teaspoon A Bite of Good Lemon Citrus Salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest)

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tender herbs (such as dill, mint, or basil)


Directions:


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. Allow to sit 5 minutes so that the breadcrumbs soak up the milk. Gently squeeze the breadcrumbs to release any excess liquid then transfer them to a larger bowl and discard milk.


Add to the bowl with the soaked breadcrumbs the beaten egg, lamb, grated onion, minced garlic, Greek Island Spice Blend, and salt and pepper. Use your hands (or a spoon if you're squeamish about touching raw meat) to GENTLY mix everything together. You want the ingredients to be fully combined, but you don't want to just smash it together or you'll end up with dense (rather than light and airy) meatballs.


Gently roll the meat mixture into your desired size of balls. I prefer smaller meatballs for this application because I like to pile them on a piece of flatbread with tzaziki and veggies and make sort of a Greek taco, but it is entirely up to you. Some people like bigger balls. I won't judge. (Yes, I am totally giggling at myself and my stupid juvenile sense of humor right now.)


Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes until they are cooked through and are golden brown on the outside. (Note: Cooked meatballs can be refrigerated for up to a week and frozen for up to 2 months.)


While the meatballs are cooking, mix together the yogurt, diced cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice, citrus salt, and herbs for the tzatziki.


On a large platter or cutting board, arrange your desired fixings. I suggest (along with your tzatziki) some hummus, crumbled feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumber, bell pepper, grape tomato, and some pita or flatbread of some sort. I used some homemade whole wheat sourdough na'an bread, but even tortillas will work in a pinch. The key is to have some sort of pliable bread product that will allow you to maximize the efficiency of the transfer of meatballs to your face.


Pro tip: This recipe makes enough for 4 people. If you are only feeding two people and intend to have any leftovers, I highly recommend proactively separating out the portions you want to keep for later. I had to physically wrestle the bowl of meatballs away from my husband so that there would be some left for lunch the next day. They are just that good.


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