Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Köfte with Tzaziki Sauce

Köfte is one of our favorite easy family dinners once the weather warms up enough to grill. These Turkish meatballs are seasoned with grated onion and a variety of Middle Eastern spices. Köfte can be lightly fried,but we much prefer ours grilled. Any type of ground meat can be used. Lamb is traditional, ground beef works well; I cut down on the saturated fat by using ground turkey.
Served with tzaziki sauce and lightly grilled pita with a little Greek salad on the side, this is a beautiful, healthy meal that makes all the boys happy. Last night's version of Greek salad was romaine, roma tomato, red onion, pitted black olives, and ricotta salata cheese tossed with a lemon and white wine vinaigrette. One lonely zucchini insisted on being tossed in olive oil and oregano before being skewered and grilled alongside. 

In making köfte, I usually toss in whatever combination of Middle Eastern spices appeals to me. Last night though, a little research turned up a spice mixture that is traditionally used. I looked at a few recipes, then came up with a version of Baharat that suits my tastes.
I am so pleased to have a spice bottle full of this now. I can easily make köfte down at the lake without hauling half of my spice collection along!

Next I made the tzaziki so it would have a little time sitting at room temperature to let the flavors combine. We like our tzaziki chunky. Other versions grate the cuke and squeeze out the excess water, or leave it out altogether. 

Köfte with Tzaziki Sauce

For the Baharat spice mixture:
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamon
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
For the Tzaziki sauce:
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/3 inch dice
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Köfte:
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Baharat spice mixture
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 slices of sandwich bread, torn into tiny pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 6 pitas
  1. Add all the spice mixture ingredients to a small bowl and stir gently to combine. Store in an air-tight container.
  2. Combine all the tzaziki sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Combine the turkey with the onion, garlic, spice mixture and bread in a medium-sized bowl, working with your hands to make sure that the spices are evenly distributed. Divide the meat mixture into 6 evenly sized meatballs. Each meatball should be shaped so that it fits in your cupped hand.
  4. Preheat a gas grill on high. Make sure the grill is clean. Spray the grate with non-stick grill spray to prevent sticking. Grill the köfte on high with the top up. After a sear has formed on the bottom, turn the köfte. Allow a sear to form on the next side before turning again. After all surfaces have been seared, continue to cook the meatballs for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until the köfte are firm. The internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees.
  5. During the last 3-5 minutes, warm the pita on the top rack of the grill.
  6. Plate the köfte using the pita bread as a wrap, topping it with salad, then the meatball with the tzaziki on top.


Megan said...

Oh wow this sounds so good! I've never made kofte before, I can't wait to give it a try.

Lynn said...

Thanks. I love Mediterranean food when the weather warms up!

Katerina said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. Your blog is beautiful and your version of kofte and tzatziki sound fantastic!

Lynn said...

Coming from someone who lives in Greece, I'll take that as a high compliment! Thanks --

Mamahollioni said...

This looks amazing...I love Mediterranean food. You just put the biggest smile on my face too. I was looking through recipes and other sections of your blog and saw you posted mine on a sidebar! Thank you! That just made my day:-)

Lynn said...

There are so many great "small" food blogs out there that I think are as good or better than huge ones that get tons of press and have hundreds of followers. I decided this week to take down my links to Ruth Reichl and Aartpaarti (both of whom I love) as well as some other higher profile food blogs in favoring of highlighting a few of the little guys I admire.

J L Health 918-836-0565 said...

Mediterranean food is something that could be eaten many times per week in our home.

Fantastic post and thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop.

Lynn said...

Unfortunately the weather here for the next week is going to be perfectly awful so no grilled Mediterranean food for a while. I'm making Avgolemono soup instead!

Hilary said...

I've finally got this one on my meal plan for the week - can't wait to make it! I'm always so impressed with your lovely meal plans!

Lynn said...

Enjoy! It is a great meal for this time of year.

Mme. Dakar said...

Thanks for the reminder of kofte. I was wondering what to do with the rest of the ground beef I had. I should have looked at your recipe first though. My recipe is just with onions and lots of parsley. But I'm going to garnish with finely-chopped lime and mint, which should help. And we have no pita bread. But we do have French potato salad (Julia) and already-blanched green beans to make green beans and tomato sauce.

Lynn said...

I am going to use that spice mixture in some lamb burgers tonight, maybe with a white bean salad but more likely a green salad with feta that the kids will eat.

paminwales said...

This one sounds fab! I can almost smell it cooking already. And I think I can get the kids to eat it too so it's going on the summer menu. Thanks!