Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Keftedes (Lamb Meatballs)
When local company, Mother Earth Food, asked for a Mediterranean recipe this week's Friday Harvest Menu, I was over the moon! Mediterranean food is on regular rotation in my house and I couldn't stop at just one. Instead, I made last night's dinner a Greek feast of Keftedes (Lamb Meatballs), Rice Pilaf, Greek Salad, Garlicky Hummus, and Tatziki Sauce! You'll find all these recipes below.
This whole meals takes about an hour of focused concentration to prepare but you can do it! You can also make extra and eat leftovers throughout the week. I like to eat my homemade meals at least 2-3 times to save on effort. Plus, the meatballs and hummus can be frozen and eaten with future meals. This is what whole foods, home cooking is all about ~ finding ways to make it manageable and efficient.
If you're making all these recipes, start with mixing the lamb, then refrigerate and move onto the rice pilaf. Then bake the lamb meatballs while preparing the hummus and tatziki; make the Greek salad last.
For an extra dose of veggies, I like a pan of roasted veggies with this meal. Common Greek vegetables to include are eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Check out this post for help! As usual, this meal avoids the most common food sensitivity culprits. All dishes are dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, corn-free.
Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)
4-5 servings, about 18 meatballs
1 lb of ground lamb
½ small red onion very finely minced
1 handful of fresh herbs* (see notes) very finely chopped
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Combine all ingredients. If you have the time, place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour for the flavors to come together. Otherwise, skip to step 2. Still delicious!
Use a small scoop or use your hands to make golf ball sized portions onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are no longer pink inside.
Herbs. For Greek meatballs, use mint, parsley, thyme, or a combination of all three.
Italian Style. For Italian style meatballs, use beef instead of lamb with basil, parsley, or both.
Dried Herbs. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use 3 tsp of dried herbs. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs, so you’ll need far less.
Parchment Paper. Non-stick pans and aluminum foil have been linked to cancers and neurological diseases like dementia. Parchment paper is a heat-resistant paper that is also non-stick. Perhaps the better option is to cook in a glass baking dish, if you have one. These may take a few extra minutes, however, since glass takes longer to heat through. Cook Once, Eat 3 times. These meatballs freeze well! Make lots, then let them cool before placing them into large ziplock for freezer storage. To re-heat, skip the microwave and put them in a pan with a little bit of water over low heat until warmed through.
3-4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2-3 stalks of celery diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of white, long-grain rice
4 c broth or water
1 tsp salt
1 carrot (optional)
1/2 cup of frozen peas (optional)
2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped for garnish (optional)
Saute onions and celery in 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large pot (at least 2 quarts) until al dente (tender-crisp), about 5 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil, rinsed rice and garlic to the pot. Stir frequently (to avoid burning garlic) to toast the rice, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes
Add water to the pot while stirring, then bring heat to high and stir every few minutes until boiling.
Once boiling, cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to low.
Cook for 18 minutes without touching it. (Set a timer!) Do not stir or remove the lid. Turn the heat off and let sit for another 5-10 minutes
Optional. In a separate pan, sauté carrots in a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until tender, then add frozen peas until heated through. Toss in with the rice and Serve!
Use Leftovers. Technically, a rice pilaf is rice that’s toasted and cooked with aromatics (like in the recipe above) but sometimes, I’ll use leftover plain rice or quinoa for a quick “pilaf”. Sauté onion & carrot in olive oil, add frozen peas, cooked rice, more olive oil & salt then heat through. Done! It’s a great way to use leftover grains and makes an easy side dish in only about 10 minutes.
Always wash your rice in a fine mesh strainer. This will remove excess starch and keep your rice from turning gummy.
1 large tomato diced
1 cucumber, partially peeled (see notes) and diced
⅓ red onion thinly sliced
½ cup pitted kalamata olives (or whatever you have on hand)
½ tsp dried oregano
Juice from 1 lemon or ¼ c lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Feta to garnish (optional)
Combine it all in a mixing bowl and toss.
Cucumber Peel can be tough but also contains lots of nutrients and beautiful color. I like to peel off three thin long strips, leaving some skin between each strip, to reduce the amount of peel in the final salad while retaining some of the nutrition and color.
Make it a meal. Add lettuce and cooked chicken for a satisfying lunch salad.
1 large cucumber, seeded, peeled, and diced
1 cup of plain, full-fat yogurt (see note for vegan)
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
1 garlic clove minced, pressed, or grated
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Juice from ½ a lemon, or ⅛ cup
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Combine it all in a bowl and enjoy!
Make it Vegan. My favorite yogurt replacement is coconut kefir but almond yogurt or a combination of the two works very well!
Use dried dill if it’s what you have on hand. Just remember, dried herbs are more potent so use just 1 tablespoon. You may also want to let it sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes so the dill rehydrates.
2 cups cooked or 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + more
2 cloves garlic
Fresh juice of one lemon or ¼ cup
1 Tbsp tahini
½ tsp salt
Paprika to garnish (optional)
Add it all to a food processor or high-powered blender.
Pulse a few times, then blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.. Scrape down the sides for an even blend, if necessary.
Add more oil to the food processor if hummus is not mixing easily. You may need more oil if you are using freshly cooked beans as opposed to a can. Don't be shy, hummus usually has LOTS of fresh olive oil.
Garnish with paprika, if using.
Make once, eat all week! I like to double and sometimes triple this recipe since I just LOVE fresh, homemade hummus as a side. I also portion it into small glass jars to freeze so that I always have some on hand. Once thawed, just mix with a touch more olive oil to get that creamy texture back.
No Tahini? You can also use sunflower seed butter or skip it all together. Still yummy!
I hope you enjoy this wonderful meal! It's one of my favorites. Come back and let me know what you think. Best wishes to you!