|Turkey kofta with labne seasoned with za'atar|
I use scallions instead of chopping up yellow or white onions, which adds a little splash of green to the meatballs - not authentic but tasty and it's nice to have a little fresh green taste. You could also add some chopped parsley. Za'atar seasoning is typically made up of ground sumac (the red stuff often sprinkled on the top of Middle Eastern grilled meats at a restaurant), sesame seeds and a combination of thyme, oregano or marjoram. I also add a little ras el hanout, which is a Moroccan spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, turmeric, allspice, and could contain even more spices. I love that sweet savory scent that cinnamon can add to spiced up dishes. If you can't find either of these, see the substitutions in the recipe below.
Serve with some labne, thick Middle Eastern/Lebanese yogurt, but if you can't find that (if you live in Brooklyn, get it at Sahadi's on Atlantic Ave.), use the thickest whole milk yogurt you can find, a good Greek yogurt will be fine (if you like, drain yogurt over a few sheets of cheesecloth in a sieve overnight before using it). Mix in a little za'atar spice mix into the labne, drizzle with a good olive oil and sprinkle a little za'atar on top to serve. You could also serve with more a tzatziki yogurt and cucumber kind of sauce too. I
I like to serve the kofta alongside labne, hummus, baba ghanouj, a little warm pita or flatbread, some sliced cucumbers and wedges of tomato for a simple meal, especially on hot summer nights when you don't want to cook a whole lot!
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. za'atar (or equal parts of a combination of thyme, oregano, marjoram and sesame seeds, and if you somehow have sumac, add a bit of that too!)
- 1/2 Tbsp. raz el hanout (or 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. coriander)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
Combine egg, breadcrumbs, scallions, garlic and all the spices in a large bowl. Add the ground turkey and lightly mix together - try not to overwork the meat.
Form into oval-shaped meatballs, more logs I guess, about 2-1/2" long, an inch or so thick. You should get about 12-15 depending on how big you make them. Flatten them a little bit.
In a heavy skilled or cast iron skillet, heat a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add several of your kofta meatballs into the skillet without overcrowding. Let them cook for about 4 minutes until nice and golden brown. Flip them and cook another 3-4 minutes until cooked through. If they start to brown too quickly turn the heat down a little.
If you want to grill them on skewers, once you have finished forming your ovals or logs, put them in the refrigerator for a while, maybe a half hour, to chill and firm up before grilling. Insert skewers (soak in a little water for a while before using) through them and cook on the grill for about 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through until they are cooked through.