Mediterranean Meatballs + Feta Orzo Salad

This was one of my favorite meatball and sauce recipes in my days of running my personal chef business. Yes, I have retired from that aspect of my career. Lol. The spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves meet with garlic, onion, and bell pepper for a beautiful melody of flavor. I also find this one very easy to make, using my grandmother's meatloaf for inspiration. In the south, meatloaf was often served with some vegetables, macaroni and cheese, rice, or pasta. The feta pasta salad was inspired by those sides with a Mediterranean flair.


Here's the Bonus: I'm going to give you a cheater's way of making the sauce. Just grab your favorite jar of marinara sauce, or use my classic tomato sauce recipe, and let's go! This recipe makes about 4 generous servings.


INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

1/2 lb ground lamb

1/2 lb ground turkey

1 1/2 tsp salt + 1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 cup of staled or toasted bread, broken into small crumbs

1/4 sweet onion, grated

1/4 red bell pepper, grated

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 TBS fresh parsley, finely chopped


Sauce

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce (cheat: use a jar of marinara)

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 cup dry red wine (white works too)

1/2 cup of chicken broth (Sub: vegetable broth or water)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 TBS Honey (add more if needed)

salt + pepper to taste



Feta Pasta Salad

3 cups cooked orzo pasta, according to package instructions.

3 oz feta cheese, crumbled small

2 TBS whole milk

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 red pepper, chopped small

1 1/2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

salt + pepper to taste


INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1- Get your balls in order

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Using lightly oiled hands, mix all of your meatloaf ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil your hands again, and roll meatballs that are just larger than golf balls. Place them on the baking sheet with at least a inch+ space between each. you should have about 6 to 7 meatballs when you're done.

  4. Place them in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until natural fats begin to come out. Remove from oven and set aside.


Step 2- Get saucy with it

  1. In a decent sized non-stick skillet, add 1 TBS oil, with spices for your sauce. Toast the spices for over medium heat about 2 minutes until they are fragrant and slightly nutty. Add your tomato sauce, stir and reduce until the edges start to brown a little and the oils have risen to the top.

  2. Add wine, broth, and honey and reduce half-way again. Stir and scrape down the sides for any flavor. TASTE RIGHT HERE! Taste sauce it should be slightly sweet and a little loose (it will cook down). Add salt and pepper as needed. Remember, as it reduces it will taste a little more salty and sweet so don't panic. Trust the reduction process.

  3. Add meatballs with any juices to the sauce and gently turn them in the sauce until covered. Cover the skillet and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer meatballs in sauce for an additional 10 minutes.


Grand finale - Step 3

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add feta cheese and milk. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, or until cheese is soft and mix is hot. Use a fork and mash and mix them until blended, but not completely smooth.

  2. Add pasta, red bell pepper, parsley, with a squeeze of lemon. TASTE HERE! Add salt+pepper as needed.


Serve as pictured- meatballs and sauce over pasta. Enjoy!



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