Free from / Fruit & veg / gluten-free / Meat

Middle Eastern supper: Spiced turkey & courgette meatballs with lemon yoghurt sauce

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In spite of the recent raincloud firmly placed over England, I am going to stick to sunshine food for the next few months – fresh fare with crunch and zing and a lightness that winter’s offerings can lack. I’m spring-cleaning my diet mainly because this is my kind of food but also because it’s time to reclaim that stubborn notch on my belt that I lost to gluttony and hibernation last winter – before it gets warm enough for flimsy dresses and we all have to bare ourselves, armed only with oversized sunglasses to hide the shame. I jest (a little).

Anyway, my lovely boyfriend gave me the Jerusalem cookbook last Valentine’s day. It’s bursting with herbs and spices and big fresh flavour combinations – it’s a beautiful book – yet the cynic in me does note just how well my boyfriend does out of my continuing culinary education…That said, on this occasion he relegated me to the role of sous-chef and I was ordered simply to chop!

These turkey and courgette meatballs are a great healthy midweek supper or packed lunch – turkey mince is easy to find, very affordable and low in fat. I find turkey can dry easily but the courgettes make these really succulent – the fresh herbs and spring onions add zing and the cumin and cayenne bring an exotic warmth, making this a wonderful go-to dish.

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A recent find in my local charity shop…

The recipe in the book calls for sumac in the yoghurt sauce. Sumac is a lemony, tangy spice often used in Middle Eastern cooking and I don’t have any in my cupboard. So I just upped the quantity of lemon rind in the sauce and hoped for the best…If you are lucky enough to have sumac, lob it in. If not, don’t sweat the small stuff I say!

We ate ours on a bed of tabbouleh but you could pop these into pitta with a little salad, douse with the lemon yoghurt and enjoy a really posh kebab!

Spiced turkey & courgette meatballs with lemon yoghurt sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

– 500g turkey mince
– 1 courgette, coarsely grated
– 3 spring onions
– 1 large egg (free-range please)
– handful fresh mint, chopped (about 6 stalks)
– handful fresh coriander, chopped (about 10 stalks)
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
– seasoning
– sunflower oil for frying

For the lemon yoghurt sauce:

– 250g Greek yoghurt
– 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (substitute one teaspoon with sumac if you have it)
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
– seasoning

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Mix all the ingredients for the lemon yoghurt sauce together in a bowl and pop in the fridge to chill.

For the meatballs, mix all the ingredients, apart from the oil, together in a large bowl with your hands until everything is evenly mixed. Shape into approximately 16 meatballs.

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In a frying pan on a medium heat, sear the meatballs in a little sunflower oil for about four minutes until golden brown all over.

Place on a lined baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Tip: Raw turkey is not good news so do sacrifice a meatball to check that they are cooked in the centre before serving!

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Serve immediately with the chilled lemon yoghurt sauce.

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The perfect spring supper

Source: Based on recipe from Jerusalem cookbook; photos by pip & little blue.

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