I feel like we eat a lot of meatballs. Or meatball-like things. This may be something that comes with the territory of having kids, I guess? Kids love meatballs, or at least mine do. I mean, if you look at the first page of this blog alone, there are 3 meatball or meatball-like recipes on it. Four if you count burgers, which are kind of like giant meatballs. OK, I’ve typed the word “meatball” enough for at least a week.
Anyway, I know I told you recently that I have a crush on Lidia Bastianich and I have to tell you that I’ve been two-timing her with Yotam Ottolenghi. Though I’ve only blogged one of his other recipes, I have made several and they’ve all been faaaaaaaaaabulous. This one is no different.
These meatball-like (damn, I did it again) bites are extremely similar to kafta, but with the added goodness of feta, pine nuts, and zucchini. These were a HUGE hit with the whole family and even offered a way for me to get feta into Ian (seriously, what is with that kid not liking most cheeses, especially FETA?!). Though I didn’t do it this time, these would also be great with some yogurt sauce or labneh alongside (with the tomato sauce, I love them both together). I also imagine these can be made entirely on the grill, but I know next to nothing about grilling, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. 🙂
Zucchini-wrapped Lamb Kabobs
Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can plum tomatoes, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
10 basil leaves
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 oz. stale bread, crusts removed
1 lb. ground lamb
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 tsp. allspice
1-1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 egg white
6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 18 slices total)
To make the sauce, place the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the garlic cooks lightly, just 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes, until thickened. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
To make the kabobs, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until they are fragrant and get some color, 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and let them cool.
In a mixing bowl, soak the bread in some cold water (or milk) for 2-3 minutes, then squeeze out and discard the excess liquid; crumble the bread back into the bowl. Add the lamb, feta, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, egg and egg white, parsley, salt, pepper, and toasted pine nuts. Mix all the ingredients together gently with your hands, and then form into elongated meatballs/fingers, about 18 of them.
Preheat the oven to 400º. In a large skillet (cast iron is great, a grill pan will also work and can then be reused for the zucchini), add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry the meatballs for 1-2 minutes per side, until browned but not cooked through. You will likely need to do this in batches. After browning, place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Brush both sides of the zucchini with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan over high heat and once hot, ad the zucchini slices in batches. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, to get grill marks. Once cool enough to handle, wrap 1 zucchini slice around each meat finger and place back into the baking sheet, seam side down. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.
Bring the sauce back to a boil and then add in the basil. Serve the sauce alongside the kabobs. If desired, drizzle olive oil over the kabobs, too.