Yesterday, I had perhaps my first full day of wallowing since moving out to California. Probably didn’t help that my Sunday was hazed by a rather late and intoxicated Saturday night involving many bad decisions, among them an avoidance-driven sprint through San Francisco. Really it all started well before Saturday’s antics, with a week that’s seen too many late nights at the office, too many color coded spreadsheets, and too much dating confusion to recount here. All that added up to a Sunday spent conjuring Bridget Jones, and dreading my impending lifelong spinsterhood.
With the help of some patient friends, a little sweat, and a long hot shower, I wish I could say I shook off my funk completely, but the truth is I just flat out embraced it: spinsterhood be it as it may, a girl’s gotta eat, right?
The kofta here are a riff on a recipe my mom made growing up, taken I think from a picture filled, sea blue book on Greek cooking. Kofta, a Persian term meaning “ground” or “minced,” are common across the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North Africa. The flavors here are sweet-savory with the warmth of allspice and raisins tempered by red onion and and unusual, zesty, and pretty-in-pink tzatziki.
The tzatziki is a copy-cat version of one anyone who’s eaten at Sofra in Watertown, MA will recognize. It’s the basic yogurt-garlic-dill combo, but with raw grated beets instead of finely diced cucumbers, which lend vibrant color and sweet crunch. I only recently discovered the joy of raw beets, grated for salads or slaws. Add some stove-charred pita bread, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, and a few slivered kalamata olives, and prepare for the the best [non-Italian] meatball sandwich ever.
Should you be less inclined towards dinner worthy fare, this recipe works well as a starter. Just make your meatballs smaller and serve the tzatziki on the side for spooning or put a dab in a lettuce leaf along with a kofta and some fresh dill.
One Year Ago: Bulgur and Butternut Salad.
Two Years Ago: Creamy Eggplant Spread with Almonds and Yogurt.
Makes about 24 meatballs and serves 4-6, or one single lady with lots of leftovers as the case may be.
Kofta + Beet Tzatiki
For the Kofta
- 3 tbsp raisins, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes and then drained
- 1 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground lamb
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- canola oil for frying
- warm pita
- arugula or other greens
- chopped kalamata olives
Combine the raisins and onion in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Combine this mixture with the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Using your hands (it’s really the only way to mix thoroughly!), mix, mix, mix, until uniform! Divide into roughly 24 meatballs – the mixture is quite wet – and refrigerate until needed.
For the Beet Tzatziki
- 1 medium raw purple beet, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used 2%), plus more for topping
- 2 tbsp very finely chopped red onion
- 1 small clove garlic, pressed with the back of a knife and very finely chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for topping
- salt and pepper