It's been a while since I've shared any new lamb recipes. A couple of weeks ago, our friends Yola and George visited and she shared one of her favorite lamb recipes with us. Yola is of Turkish descent and she is an amazing cook. It’s simple and quick to make. During zucchini season, it is so great to have another recipe to help whittle down the pile of overly abundant squash from the garden. During the winter, you can omit the zucchini. This makes a quick dinner and leftover koftas are a great snack or quick lunch. Perfect for a summer picnic too as they are delicious hot or cold.
If you haven't ever tried the Middle Eastern spice blend Za'atar, I encourage you to look for it. (I bought this one on Amazon but it is frequently available at better grocery stores.) It's delicious - especially sprinkled on some flat bread and broiled or added to yogurt like in this recipe.
For the Koftas
1 lb. ground lamb
1 medium zucchini (1/2 lb or less)
2 Tablespoons chopped mint
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves crushed in a garlic press
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
oil for frying
For the Yogurt Sauce
1 1/2 cups yogurt
(or 1 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup sour cream which will yield a creamier sauce)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 small garlic clove crushed in garlic press
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon za’atar (cumin is a decent substitute if za’atar is not in your spice cabinet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Mix all the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl so that the spices have time to meld. Chill.
2. Grate the zucchini on a box grater or in a food processor. Chop the scallions into thin slices.
3. Mix all the Kofta ingredients (except the oil) in a bowl with your hands so that all the herbs etc. are mixed through.
4. Form 20 or so meatballs with your hands.
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Working in batches, place the meatballs in the pan, flattening them to be about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Don’t crowd the pan. Fry for about 4 minutes per side. Move to a plate and cover with foil while the second batch cooks.
Alternately, bake at 400 degrees on a greased sheet pan for about 15 minutes.
Koftas can be made ahead of time, covered and re-heated.
Serve with yogurt sauce and flatbread.