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What isn't to love about the pita? The pocket is welcoming, inviting everything from falafel and chicken to hummus and eggplant—or all of the above. So beloved are they in the U.K., I was pleased to learn when living there, that kebab shops are the late night food stop of choice. You can even eschew the pita completely, and have your doner kebab served directly over French fries.
But in this recipe, the pita is preserved, and receives a slightly more highbrow treatment: lamb meatballs, held together with pine nuts instead of bulgur, are enhanced with tons of spices, onions, garlic, herbs, and a quick tzatziki sauce. It makes an ideal weeknight dinner, but it certainly wouldn't be bad in the early hours of the morning, either.
(Organized by area of the market)
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch parsley
- Baby lettuce leaves, shredded carrots, red onion (optional, for serving)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 4 pitas
We're assuming you already have a lemon, sugar, cayenne pepper, a yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If not, add those to the list!
The Game Plan:
About 40 minutes before dinner, preheat your gas grill. (For baking, broiling, or pan-frying directions, check out the full recipe here.) Place some wooden skewers in water to soak while you prep the lamb. Toast the pine nuts, mince 1/4 cup of the onion and parsley, and peel and smash the garlic. Grind the pine nuts to a meal in the food processor—they'll be your binder.
Mix the lamb with the nut meal, onion, parsley, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for 15 minutes (or up to overnight, but then this won't be "dinner tonight"—it will be dinner tomorrow).
While the meat is resting, make your tzatziki sauce with the Greek yogurt; 1/2 cup diced, peeled, and seeded cucumber; 1 teaspoon each lemon juice and salt; 1/4 teaspoon each sugar and cayenne; and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint. Keep in the fridge until dinner.
15 minutes before dinner, form the lamb into 1 1/2-2 inch balls—you'll end up with about 14 or 16—and slide 4 balls onto each skewer. Grill, rotating, for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the lamb is browned and cooked through.
Right before sitting down, halve pitas, arrange garnishes if using, and place 2 balls into each half pocket. Top with a dollop of tzatziki and serve.
Head over here to see the full version of this recipe.