As I made them, I thought of all the versatile uses for them, and this post was born: lamb meatballs, four ways. Those of us with larger families have to cook for a lot of people at the holidays even with a virus at large, and it helps if we have quick dishes that are easy but also special. Lamb is priceier than beef, around $7-8 a pound, so it is a treat but as you can see in these recipes you can stretch them to feed a crowd.
When you have all the flavor of lamb meatballs, with the unique flavor of lamb itself, plus greek seasoning and lemon and dill, the flavors lend themselves to so many delicious dishes. First up, we have:
These are just the cutest, and they are little flavor bombs that my boys love. They are especially good with a cold beer.
The recipe is the basis for all the meatballs, so if you want to double it then all of these dishes are as easy as pulling a bag of these meatballs out of the fridge or freezer and throwing together a few other ingredients. And the meatballs come together in a snap, and baking them in the oven means no mess to clean.
Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce
Makes 28-32 meatballs
2 lb. ground lamb (can use beef but lamb is better)
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 chopped parsley
1/2 cup feta
1 cup bread crumbs (freshly ground French or ciabatta works well)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 T Cavender’s Greek seasoning
Heat the oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, combine all blend well with your hands. Form the mixture into walnut size balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake in the hot oven for 22 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes before transferring to a serving tray. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Tzatziki Dipping Sauce:
7 oz container Greek yogurt (about 2/3 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dill
2 T. lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup cream cheese
½ cup finely chopped cucumber
½ tsp. salt + few grinds of fresh pepper
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or as long as overnight)to let flavors mingle. Serve on the side with meatballs.
2. Greek Naan Bread Pizza
I’m kind of obsessed with greek pizza, and greek salad, and artichokes, so this has a lot to love. It is so simple to pile everything together, and then pile fresh arugula on top…olive oil and lemon juice on top make you feel like you are in an outdoor market in Athens. I think. I’ve never been. But I image I am at a cafe when I eat this.
It’s so fun to cut it up into bite sized pieces. Here’s how I made it:
Lamb Meatballs (see recipe above)
Mozzarella and/or Asiago Cheese
Favorite greek toppings – olives, tomatoes, artichokes, onions…
Preheat oven to 375. Spread sauce over Naan bread, then pile with meatballs, cheese, and toppings. Cook for 10 min. or until cheese is melted. Let cool before cutting into slices. Top with arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
There is a local restaurant called The Kitchen and they have a lamb burger that is amazing, with a lamb patty, thick slice of feta, and the magic ingredient: chutney. Their’s is homemade and amazing but lately I have just been using Major Grey’s Chutney and it does not disappoint.
This becomes a sweet & salty flavor blast. You can save time and just make burgers for a crowd or you can use smaller buns and put a meatball on each one and have adorable appetizers. This combination is addictively good, and so easy to pull together.
4. Greek Wedding Soup
I love this soup, with its hit of lemon and the chewy orzo pasta, and aside from the meatballs it has four ingredients so it comes to gather in a snap. Cooks Note: you can cook the meatballs directly in the heated broth if you’d like to save the step of baking them in the oven. This yields a more tender meatball and helps flavor the soup. If you already have them cooked, it is still easy and delicious to just toss them in at the end.
1 pound lamb meatballs (see recipe above)
2 32 oz. containers of chicken broth (8 cups)
1 cup orzo pasta
Juice of 1 lemon (plus more to taste)
1 cup peas
salt & pepper
Bring chicken broth to simmer in large pot. Add orzo pasta. If meatballs are raw, drop them into the soup and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. If meatballs are cooked, add them to the broth once the orzo is cooked. Add frozen peas, cook for one more minute, then add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings or add more lemon juice if needed. Serve warm.
With this repertoire, you are up for a fun festive few weeks with your people, and the best part is you can be part of the fun since these are fast and easy.