Mediterranean Meatballs

You need these meatballs.  Trust me on this one.  These meatballs are of the utmost necessity.  They are the ultimate meatball, and they are not Italian at all.   If anything, I would lean toward calling them Lebanese, perhaps because of the cumin and the pine nuts.  But there’s some Greek in there too with the feta and the crushed red pepper.  They are lusciously topped with a lemony, cumin-scented yogurt sauce.  I had them for dinner last night and for lunch today.  I’m sad I don’t have anymore of these meatballs.  I miss their sweet and spicy crunch deeply.  That’s all I’m sayin’.  They’ll speak for themselves.

Adapted from A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg.  Serves 4.

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb./package turkey meat (not extra lean)
  • 1/2  cup pine nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins and/or currants (I used both), chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade or panko)
  • 1/4 cup feta crumbles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon each cumin and crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the yogurt sauce

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used full fat but I think it’d be fine with low-fat)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 medium garlic clove, grated

1.  Prepare the yogurt by mixing sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  Use a whisk to smooth the yogurt and chill until ready to use.

2. To prepare the meatballs, place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with clean hands, only until all ingredients and spices are incorporated.  Avoid overmixing as this will toughen the meatballs.  You also don’t want them falling apart.

3.  Form 1″ meatballs and roll between hands.  Place on a large plate.  You’ll make about 30 meatballs.

4.  Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add half of the meatballs to the pan (do not overcrowd) and allow to brown on all sides.  Keep turning them until they are done (about 8-10 minutes).  Cut one or two open to make sure they are done.  Remove to a plate and add another 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Repeat with the rest of the meatballs.

It’s ok, actually it’s preferable, if pine nuts and raisins fall into the pan during sautéing.  They’ll caramelize nicely and can be added to a side salad for a sweet crunch.  Serve with the yogurt sauce, either drizzled over top or on the side for dipping.  Your choice.  I hear these freeze well but I’d be surprised if they make it to your freezer.

Mine barely made it to the dinner table.

Bon appétit!


About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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10 Responses to Mediterranean Meatballs

  1. Sam says:

    I can attest to their deliciousness. In fact, they’re on tonight’s menu. I’ll let you know how it went.

  2. S says:

    The first time I made these took four days. Yea, I know. I started on Monday and realized I forgot a few things. I eventually picked it up again Friday and realized I didn’t have cumin, so took a trip to the Ypsi Co-op. After cooking the meatballs, I realized I forgot to ADD the cumin, as it was still in the bag. They were still good.

    The second time went smoother. My boss and I ate them up! It is simple and delicious recipe. Thanks

  3. Liza M. says:

    Well I’m glad you liked them in the end. You can always find the recipe here 😉

    • Liza M. says:

      Let me know what you think if you make them Megan.

      • I made them tonight! Finally! – after rediscovering them on my Pinterest board.) They were very tasty – I used chopped walnuts in place of pine nuts and omitted the cilantro because the huz wouldn’t touch them if I included cilantro (I bet cilantro is great in them though), but otherwise followed the recipe. Success! The golden raisins and the yogurt sauce made them!

      • Liza M. says:

        Aren’t they awesome?! I bet the walnuts were great too.

        Sent from my iPhone


  4. Pingback: What I’ve Been Nomming Lately–Memorial Day 2015 Edition | Meg Goes Nom Nom

  5. Madii says:

    I made these last night for my boyfriend. They are delicious! I doubled the crushed red pepper and used regular raisins. I will definitely be making these again.

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