Meatballs are one of our favorite comfort foods and oh boy, do they ever stir up a hunger as they simmer on the stove! They can be just as simple or as fancy and you like. We love this recipe because it has plenty of cumin and oregano with a touch of parsley and is served in a delicious roasted red pepper tomato sauce. We love to serve it with hummus and pita on the side plus a healthy sprinkling of feta cheese on top.
Two tips to making these meatballs are to finely grate the onion instead of chopping, and to use stale bread soaked in water in place of breadcrumbs! Use your favorite ground meat for this recipe. We often make three or four batches at once, each batch with a different type of meat to please everyone’s palate! If you use turkey, cut down slightly on the egg, or add a couple tablespoons of regular bread crumbs because ground turkey is less dense than the red meats are, and they tend to need a bit more filler to bind the meat, egg, onion, and seasonings. Also, if you tend to like red meat on the more rare side, you can do the same with these meatballs. In fact, we really love the lamb meatballs a little pink, and the elk you don’t want to overcook since it is such a lean meat. But, when we make turkey, chicken, or pork meatballs, we cook them all the way through!
Turkish Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
- 1 lb. ground meat lamb, beef, bison, elk, venison, pork, chicken, or turkey
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 small onion finely grated (this is important to grate rather than chop the onion)
- 2 thick slices of stale bread
- 1 medium egg if you have large eggs, use slightly less than 1 whole egg per pound of meat
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup water for cooking
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese for garnish
Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Sauce
- 8 vine-ripened tomatoes cut in half
- 2 orange or red bell peppers stem removed, seeded, and cut into quarters
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/4 cup water
DIRECTIONS – Meatballs
- In a mixing bowl combine meat with garlic and onion. Splash bread with enough cold water to moisten the bread, then squeeze out excess liquid and crumble into the bowl. (This really keeps the meatballs nice and moist. But, with the turkey or chicken meatballs, be sure to add an extra 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs in addition to the soaked bread, or cut down on the egg, because ground poultry is so much less dense than the other ground meats.) Add egg, cumin, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Blend thoroughly to a smooth paste.
- With lightly oiled hands, divide the meat into roughly 10 balls. For dinner, we usually make 11/2 to 2-inch balls, but for party appetizers, we make them more like 1-inch in diameter.)
- Heat oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat, and fry meatballs until nicely browned on all sides. Add water to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until meat is cooked through. Time will vary depending up which meat you use, and desired doneness. For example, we prefer the red meatballs cooked on the rare side, but the turkey needs to be completely cooked. Cooking time will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes after browning.
- Add roasted red pepper and tomato sauce (recipe below) to the pan and heat until both sauce and meatballs are hot.
- Serve with a side of hummus and warm pita bread. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese.
DIRECTIONS – Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
- Preheat oven to 425⁰ F. Prepare a casserole dish or baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Cut tomatoes in half and peppers in quarters. Mix olive oil with garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Coat peppers and tomatoes with this mixture.
- Roast for approximately 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool and coarsely chop veggies and stir in 1/4 cup water to make a chunky sauce. Add to the meatballs and continue to cook until heated through.