Kefta-Style Meatballs with Grilled Grapes and Yogurt Sauce

By • August 9, 2010 • 40 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is a combination of a few different restaurant dishes that I have enjoyed over the years. I've gone through a handful of versions, but this one has stuck around. I usually make them with ground beef, but lamb is great too. Also instead of serving as an appetizer, skip the toothpicks and pile it all into a warm pita. I know the grilled grapes sound a little odd, but they really work...trust me. - roseinparisroseinparis

Food52 Review: You will fall in love with this recipe as you're mixing the meatball mixture, which sends up wafts of cinnamon, mint and garlic. After browning the meatballs, you sandwich them between a grilled (seared, really) grape -- we used red, and loved how their skins blistered and charred -- and a garlicky, lemon yogurt sauce. For parties, you can make everything ahead of time, and assemble the skewers and sauce just before guests arrive. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 6

Meatballs

  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch small seedless grapes, red or green

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. For the yogurt sauce: Mix all ingredients. It's best when made at least 30 minutes ahead of time, to allow flavors to meld.
  2. In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients in the meatball list. Don’t over-mix.
  3. Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil and toss the grapes, lightly browning on all sides, remove and set aside.
  4. Shape meat mixture into small meatballs, fry in the pan, adding more oil if needed to make sure they don’t stick. The heat should be fairly high to ensure a good sear. Toss or turn to make sure all sides brown. Drain on some paper towel, allowing to rest for a few minutes.
  5. Assemble on large cocktail toothpicks: grape first, then meatball on the bottom. Serve with yogurt sauce for dipping.
Jump to Comments (40)

Tags: fruit, meatballs, mint, yogurt

Comments (40) Questions (2)

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

These were awesome!! I made them for a baby shower appetizer and everybody ate them up. I did bake them instead and then quickly rolled them around a hot pan on the stove top to remove the excess meat fats that weren't too appealing to the eye. I found they cooked a lot more evenly and conveniently than they did when I cooked them stove top (I test ran these the week prior). I also roasted the grapes all at once for convenience and I think they brought out their sweetness! I made these bites sized and they produced about 30. They were a crowd pleaser and so pretty! Loved the combo of the grape. I live in sunny spain and can't wait until the Moscatel grape is in season. I think that would be a killer combo!

Robin

12 months ago robin

Hey looking for a hearty appetizer, and found this one, but do you think you could bake the meatballs? Not so into frying.

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11 months ago Greenbeetlegirl

Robin,
I have made these & just baked them with great success. I formed them all & baked them in a baking dish at 375 til cooked through. But, you will need to fry the grapes to get the blistered skins which also Caramelizes them and makes them fantastic!

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over 1 year ago kath1

Fried grapes! Our new best food. The meatballs were lovely too, I used lamb and it was amazing.

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over 1 year ago Greenbeetlegirl

Loved these! Just made them for dinner-I doubled the recipe & browned the meatballs in batches & finished them in the oven as I cooked off the rest & worked on the sides... I must admit: I wasn't sure about the grapes- but, my whole family loved them with the meatballs- nice sweet contrast!
My side dish suggestions: serve the meatball/ grape skewers on a bed of couscous with a side of sautéed kale! truly was wonderful together...dinner party worthy meal. Thanks for the recipe.

Sit2

over 2 years ago Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

I want to say to you these are fantastic...I've made them several time over the past year.
And one of the BEST things from this website ever. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You.

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almost 3 years ago tota

Did you answer about doing these ahead and re-heating? would love to serve for a drinks party we are hosting, but need to be made beforehand if possible. Also, I am thinking turkey instead of beef, would that work?

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almost 3 years ago roseinparis

Yes, they can definitely be made ahead and re-heated. Regarding, turkey...I have never made this recipe with ground turkey, but as long as it's not too lean, it should work well.

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almost 4 years ago Melody

Any ideas on what other dishes would complement this?

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almost 4 years ago cheese1227

Grilled or sauteed eggplant with Middle Eastern spices would be great. Maybe getting those small pita's and stuffing them with eggplant and serving them warm with the meatball skewars?

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about 4 years ago Ruth

I have made these twice so far, once as an appetizer and the second time as a pita filling with shredded lettuce. Both times they were a hit. We moved into the pita arena because everyone wanted to eat them for dinner again! I used lamb as that is what we have in the freezer having recently purchased a locally grown lamb. Delicious.

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about 4 years ago ehuschke

Excellent recipe! I doubled the recipe and made half of the batch with ground turkey and the other half with ground pork. Both turned out really well, but my guests preferred the pork because they were obviously more "meaty". I was initially hesitant about the mint/cinnamon/grape combination but they really compliment eachother. The lemon zest was also a nice addition to the yogurt sauce.

Lots of compliments. I will make this one again :)

Thanks for a great recipe!

Bike2

about 4 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on coming in second, which is not a bad place to be!

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over 4 years ago vharmer

Any suggestions on how to cook this ahead of time and re-heat the meatballs and grapes? Thanks!

Bobhostphoto

over 4 years ago Robert McDiarmid

both me and my hubby were hesitant about "fried grapes" - but it is amazing yummy! :) My recipe for this challenge was also a kefta style meatball - but yours is so easy and delicious. CONGRATS!

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over 4 years ago EmilyC

These sound so good -- thanks for sharing!

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over 4 years ago Rhonda35

I made these tonight - so, so good! Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

Pears

over 4 years ago freshparsley

This looked so good that I tried it instead of our usual Swedish meatballs recipe. Perfect for summer and such a refreshing change with the lovely yogurt sauce. You have my vote!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

I just had kefta lamb meatballs with grapes at Aziza in SF. They were delicious. Look forward to trying these!

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Yum! I LOVE Aziza! I thought of trying this great recipe with lamb too.

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over 4 years ago DigNDine

I was really bummed I didn't make the meatballs finals but now I know why. These look great and I am going to try them tonight! Congratulations.

Bike2

over 4 years ago Sagegreen

I am in such awe of these recipes! Don't feel badly, but I have the same kind of feeling about my recipes after seeing these!

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over 4 years ago lapadia

Lovely flavors and the grape to top it off - YUM. Congratulations on the Editors' Pick and good luck in the finals...voted!

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over 4 years ago lacerise

this recipe looks scrummy (combo of, well, you know). i'm not a big fan of grapes, but i can tell they'll be perfect in this dish. and i've got them growing like crazy over the arbor on my deck right this very minute! look forward to trying this, stuffed in a pita, this weekend.

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over 4 years ago cheese1227

These look AMAZING. On the menu this weekend. Heck, maybe tonight. What do you think about making them with lamb?

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over 4 years ago roseinparis

Ground beef is usually easier for me to find, but it works with lamb too as the other flavors are strong enough that they don't get overpowered.