Turkey Zucchini Meatballs



Meatballs are the coolest. The ones you see pictured aren’t your typical Italian, breadcrumb-filled, pork and beef meatballs, though they are my first love. These are a little different. There’s so much flavor like mint (whoa!), a good amount of cumin, ground up turkey and zucchini up in these things. They’re topped with a sour cream and Greek yogurt sauce that’s perfectly tart and creamy with little hints of sumac. Very special.

This recipe comes from the upcoming book PLENTY, then you’ll love this, too.) It’s a beautifully laid out book, with stunning pictures, lots of history and vivid descriptions about Jerusalem, the city and its cuisine. I’m pretty excited about it.

In the book these were actually called Turkey and Zucchini Burgers–and if you like, you can shape these into patties–but I figured since the party attending season is coming up, I’d miniature size them and make them appetizer friendly. But you have options!

I never promise “easy” if the recipe isn’t easy, but these are easy. Promise.

This meat-a-ball process starts with making the sauce. It’s Greek yogurt, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Also, sumac!

If you’re not familiar with sumac, it’s a Middle Eastern spice that comes from the berries of a flower. It has a bit of a tangy flavor that works really nicely on top of these meatballs. I will admit, that even in Los Angeles, it’s a little difficult to find. If you do buy it just for this dish, other uses include: a little sprinkling atop hummus, in the dressing for a fattoush salad, dusting it on roasted potatoes, and I’m personally super curious how it tastes on popcorn.

If you have trouble spotting it at your grocery store, it’ll be okay–this dish will still taste amazing without it.

These meatballs have green onion, cilantro and mint.

The mint is my favorite. You get little bits throughout the meatball, making them taste… almost refreshing.

I never had a meatball even come sort of close to being refreshing, until these.

Zucchini is still hanging out at the farmer’s markets here in LA.

If that’s not the case in your part of the world, I bet butternut squash or kobocha would work nicely, too.

The meat mixture situation gets added to a bowl. And then all mixed up.

I used a tablespoon measure to scoop out the mixture and shaped each little cute meatball with my hands. They get a little pan fry and then to the oven to finish the cooking process. Serve them on a platter. With skewers. And the sauce.

Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

Print this recipe!

1 pound (300g) ground turkey
1 large zucchin, coarsley grated (scant 2 cups/200g)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 6 1/2 teaspoons sunflower oil (canola oil will work too)

Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:
Scant 1/2 cup (100g) sour cream
Scant 2/3 cup (150g) Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. First make the sour cream sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the sunflower oil. Mix with your hands. Using a tablespoon, scoop a tablespoon and a half of the turkey mixture and shape into about 22 meatballs.

3. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16 inch thick on the pan bottom. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the meatballs in batches on all sides. Cook each batch for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown.

4. Carefully transfer the seared meatballs to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

Recipe from JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Lola December 5, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I made these and they are fantastic…great a room
    temp for a party..I put a piece of grilled pita and a meatball
    on a bamboo skewer for a party…wonderful.

    It’s really helpful to read where someone has actually made
    them instead of countless entries of how good it looks..not helpful.

  • Reply Polly October 12, 2013 at 5:31 am

    I’m about to make 5 lbs. of these for as an appetizer for a party. I did use ground beef/chuck instead, so crossing my fingers they will be as tasty. I am also wondering how to keep them moist while they sit in a large crockpot on the warm setting for several hours as there is no sauce or liquid. Thoughts?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Ooof. I’m not sure. I’ve never kept meatballs in a crockpot but I have a feeling that it should steam in there and be ok. Are you serving it with some sort of yogurt sauce? If so, you might be ok!

      • Reply Polly October 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm

        Turned out great. What I did was add all the juices from baking and frying the meatballs straight into the crockpot plus I deglazed the pans as well and added that to the crockpot too. Everyone looked happy as they ate πŸ™‚

  • Reply Elle March 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Made these for dinner last week and they were a complete hit! Everyone went for seconds and agreed they prefer this to any beef meatball they’ve had. Really great flavour and spice, thanks for posting; I’m sure this will become a regular in my kitchen!

  • Reply unikorna November 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Your food art is amazing, I am in love with your cooking style. Lovely photos…really :).

  • Reply Harlan October 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    They look delicious – I think I will purchase the cookbook too!

  • Reply Jack Tyler October 20, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I love meatballs! I’m loving it since I am just a kid.

  • Reply Dana October 19, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Zucchini is such a smart idea to put into meatballs! It’ll help keep things nice and moist, and extra veggies never hurt. I wish I had this recipe a few months ago, when we were up to our knees in zucchini.

  • Reply this is lemonade October 19, 2012 at 6:35 am

    This looks like an amazing recipe. I’ve just recently posted a meatball recipe that I thought worked really well, with rice in it. I MUST try this. It looks succulent and good enough to eat even raw! And I love zucchini so it’s just a no-brainer. I don’t cook much with turkey though, haven’t eaten it in ages, but this sounds like something really nice to do with it!
    Thanks for sharing! I’ve pinned it! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Bam's Kitchen October 19, 2012 at 4:13 am

    These little meatballs look so moist and delicious and love the addition of veggies and zucchini. Love your little place here and looking forward to keeping in touch. Take care, BAM

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