I saw this recipe on Health-Bent awhile back and filed it away in my little brain for inspiration. This week I picked up some fresh fennel and decided to create my own Greek meatball and what better way to eat Greek meat than with homemade tzatziki? I was truly surprised how easy it was to make and how delicious it was! And because I can’t do anything simple and plain, I decided to stuff the meatballs with a small square of feta cheese. Don’t worry, there are plenty of instructional photos at the bottom of the post and it’s easier than it sounds.
I also used these which my mom bought for me.
“Here. Figure something out with this,” she said. And so, the lonely preserved lemons sat in my fridge for weeks and weeks until I could think of something worthy to use their perfect yellow selves. There were in the Moroccan section of the health food section of my local supermarket. If you can’t find them or don’t want to use them, you can sub lemon juice, rind and salt, no worries. But I HIGHLY recommend them; they’re salty and sour and amazing, really unique.
I used beef but if you like lamb, I imagine a ground lamb/beef mixture would be perfect for this. Though my mother recently bought a pastured lamb and its butchered contents reside in our shared freezer, I’m just personally not a lamb fan. I know!
Feta-Stuffed Greek Meatballs with Homemade Tzatziki Dip
What you need:
- large container organic Greek Yogurt, strained
- 1 heaping tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp dill
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 c. chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded
What you do:
- This is the hard part to remember: The night before you want to make this dish, you need to strain your yogurt. It’s really simple.
- Place yogurt in the middle of a cheesecloth, tie top tight, and set in a strainer over a bowl.
- By the next morning you will have 10-12 ounces of liquid (whey) at the bottom and about 2 cups of yogurt left.
- You can use the leftover whey to make a variety of things: ricotta, cream cheese, etc., or use in place of milk in baked goods/pancake recipes.
- Add remaining ingredients and set back in fridge to let the flavors meld while you make your meatballs, or longer if you think abhead and make it earlier in the day.
What you need:
- 2 lbs grassfed beef
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 c. finely diced fennel bulb
- 2 tsp fennel leaves, minced
- 2 pastured eggs
- 3 tbsp diced preserved lemon (or 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt)
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 1 tsp fresh mint, finely minced
- 1/2 c. grated onion
- 1/3 c. almond meal (or binder of your choice) (you can also omit if you have very lean meat, like we did)
- feta cheese (in a block, not crumbled), cut into small squares
What you do:
- Slice your fennel bulb in half and remove the “core.”
- Melt butter in a saucepan on medium.
- Dice the fennel as finely as possible and add to the saucepan along with the chopped fennel leaves.
- Cook approximately 5-8 minutes until fennel is soft
- Add cooked fennel to meat with remaining ingredients.
- Form a flat patty in your hand and stick a small square of cheese in the middle.
- Make a ball around the cheese and place on baking sheet or dish.
- Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until slightly brown and cooked through.
- Makes about 15 large meatballs.
This post submitted to Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday!