Saturday, July 23, 2011

Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Meatballs (Kofte) with Olive and Oregano Hummus

I prepared a meal last week in which every component was delicious enough for me to want to blog all about it. It consisted of a nice Tabbouleh salad, a potato side dish, and these truly yummy Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Meatballs with some Olive and Oregano Hummus to dip them in. The meatballs and hummus, as well as the tabbouleh, came from Cat Cora's most recent cookbook. I'm loving this book so far!

The hummus comes together in about 5 minutes flat, and it's amazing. I love the addition of salty capers and kalamata olives; you can decrease the amount of salt in the recipe and it still tastes just salty enough. I do my hummus a bit differently than most recipes instruct; I add less olive oil and then I throw in a bit of warm water to thin it out. My hummus still turns out smooth and creamy, but with less fat. I wrote the instructions to reflect my changes.

The meatballs have a really long ingredients list, but most of those ingredients are spices and I feel like they are all vital to the overall flavor of the meatballs. The recipe is very simple; as long as you have all your spice bottles or jars out and lined up when you are ready to assemble these, the prep time flies by. Cat instructs you to make your meatballs long and cylindrical, rather than perfectly round. That's because these meatballs are grilled, rather than fried or baked, and the heat needs to be able to cook the balls evenly from the bottom.

Though my meatballs were pretty spicy (I think because I had only hot paprika, rather than the sweet papriks called for in the recipe, and also because my freshly ground black pepper was a kicker!), they were packed to the brim with great flavors. They taste exotic, but familiar at the same time. With the hummus alongside, the meatballs were a huge hit with hubby and me. I'll blog separately about the Tabbouleh and potatoes, since four recipes in one post is a bit much! But below I am including the meatball and hummus recipes.

Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Meatballs
adapted from Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist
makes 12-15 meatballs

2 slices wheat sandwich bread, torn into pea-sized pieces
1 lb. ground turkey (dark meat)
1 small red onion, minced or grated
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. pure chile powder (I used pasilla chile powder)
2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
Nonstick cooking spray, for coating meatballs
Nonfat Greek-style plain yogurt, for dipping (optional)
Olive and Oregano Hummus, for dipping (optional)

1. Preheat a gas grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat; allow to heat up for 30 minutes before you plan to cook.

2. Mix the bread, turkey, onion, all the herbs and spices, and salt together in a large mixing bowl with your hands or a wooden spoon. Divide the meat mixture into 12-15 equal portions. Shape each portion into a cylinder. Spray each meatball with a light coating of cooking spray.

3. If using an outdoor grill, cook meatballs over indirect heat; use only one grill burner and cook the meatballs on the opposite side of the grill. If using indoor grill pan, cook meatballs slightly to the side of the heating element.

4. Cook until slightly springy but firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with yogurt or hummus on the side.

Olive and Oregano Hummus
adapted from Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist
makes 2 1/2 cups

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup tahini sauce
1 Tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. warm water
1 cup pitted and halved kalamata olives

1. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except for the oil, water, and olives. Pulse until everything is finely chopped.

2. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Slowly add warm water until the hummus is the consistency you like best. Add the olives now and pulse once or twice to chop them, or fold them in separately so they will remain large pieces. The hummus will keep for 1 week, covered, in the fridge.

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