Healthy Recipe, Lamb Meatballs with Zucchini and Basil Yogurt
Most homemade meatball recipes owe their distinction to an array of herbs, spices, and various chopped bits of this and that. This rendition, adapted from “Food52 Big Little Recipes,” significantly reduces the mess-making. The trick is to blend assertive-flavored ground lamb with a substantial amount of water-soaked breadcrumbs, which give them an extra-crusty exterior while keeping the interior tender and juicy — no egg needed.
Once cooked, you can brown zucchini slices into the pan drippings for a fast and flavorful vegetable side. Serve them both atop a creamy, herb-infused yogurt sauce for an incredibly tasty high-protein, healthy feast. Extra meatballs can be frozen cooked or uncooked, and thawed in the refrigerator the night before. By keeping the spicing simple, you’re free to pair them with other sauces or glazes for future meals. RECIPE HERE. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett
· 3 large zucchini, sliced in thick coins
· Kosher salt
· 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
· 2 cups packed basil leaves, plus extra leaves reserved for garnish
· 2 cups packed fresh breadcrumbs
· 1 pound ground lamb
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1. In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini slices with ¾ teaspoon of salt, toss well, and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, place the yogurt, basil, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth and pale green, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl, taste, and add a little more salt if needed. Refrigerate while you make the meatballs.
3. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of salt and ¾ cup room temperature water. Add the lamb and mix with your hands to evenly distribute the soaked crumbs. Form into 2-inch balls (about 15) and place on a dish.
4. Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to thickly coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs in a single layer, in batches if necessary.
5. Cook on all sides, turning as they brown and adjusting the heat as needed, until they’re crusty on the outside and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer them to a wire rack or a clean plate when done.
6. While the meatballs are cooking, drain the salted zucchini in a colander and pat dry and add them to the hot skillet. Stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes, until some slices are browned and very tender, and others are somewhat firmer.
7. Transfer the zucchini slices with a slotted spoon to a shallow bowl and allow them to stew in their own juices.
8. Smear a hefty spoonful of the basil-yogurt sauce on each plate, top with meatballs and zucchini, and garnish with a few basil leaves.
— Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.