greek night: lamb meatballs with white bean dip and roasted vegetables
We gave my mom a 700-page (!!) Greek cookbook for Christmas and spent hours oohing and ahhing over the recipes on Christmas morning. When we went to Baton Rouge last week, she suggested we pull it out and make a Greek dinner, which started us on the journey of comparing meatball recipes and discussing the best Mediterranean dips and spreads. Here’s what we came up with – these recipes are definitely keepers!
Bonus: Mom went to a local Greek restaurant and picked up baklava for dessert!
p.s. Leave a comment with your favorite ethnic cuisine and I will make a dinner and post recipes with foods from those regions!
Greek Meatballs (adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook):
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 lb. ground lamb
2 large eggs
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/2 c pitted, chopped kalamata olives
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
3 tbsp. crumbled feta
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 quick preserved lemon, chopped (recipe follows)
In a bowl, combine the ground lamb, ground bread crumbs, eggs, olives, feta, herbs, garlic, salt, and preserved lemon. Mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-sized meatballs, making sure to pack the meat firmly. Drizzle olive oil into 9×13″ baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish. Roast at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes, then turn the broiler on for 3 minutes. The internal temperature of the meatballs should register 165 degrees F. Cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving. Serve with Freda’s White Bean Dip and (store-bought) tzatziki sauce.
Freda’s White Bean Dip:
1-2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. quick preserved lemon (recipe follows)
1 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. lemon juice
salt, to taste
1 (14-oz) can cannellini beans, drained
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor or blender, pulse together the garlic, preserved lemons, juices and salt. Add the beans and a little more salt; puree until smooth. Taste and add more orange juice, lemon juice, garlic and salt, if necessary. With the blender or food processor running, add the olive oil and mix until combined.
Quick Preserved Lemon:
1/2 c salt
Bring 2 quarts water to a roiling boil. Add the lemon and salt and bring back to a boil for 15 minutes. Remove the lemon from the water and allow to cool. The inside of the lemon will be very soft. The preserved lemon will keep for a week in the fridge and can be used in vinaigrettes with white beans, or as a rub for steak or chicken.
Greek Roasted Vegetables (adapted from Vefa’s Kitchen cookbook):
2 eggplants, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
8 oz. haricot verts or green beans
2 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 jalapeño, diced finely
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 portobello mushrooms or 8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2/3 c olive oil
1 1/2 c tomato juice
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle the chopped eggplants and zucchini with salt and let drain in separate colanders for an hour.
Place all of the vegetables in a roasting pan. Pour the olive oil and tomato juice over the vegetables, then add the chile, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss with your hands until combined.
Bake at 350 degrees F, stirring twice, for about two hours, until the vegetables are lightly browned and the cooking liquid has reduced. Cover the dish with aluminum foil if the vegetables brown too quickly.