Grilled lamb kofta (middle-eastern meatballs) with vegetable couscous and herbed yogurt sauce

Mmmmmm!  A savory lamb and couscous dish inspired by the Middle East. It has an amazing complexity of flavors and textures; yet, it is so simple to make. I have to work with what I have; that means a small kitchen, an electric stove, and a charcoal grill. If I can make these dishes, so can you!

Ingredients

Herbed Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, shredded
  • cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fresh ground pepper

Vegetable Couscous

  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Italian zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ brown onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

 Lamb Kofta

  • 1 ½ lbs ground lamb from shoulder
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated brown onion
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 slice fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

 Preparation

Herbed Yogurt Sauce (Make ahead)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator forup to 5 days in a sealed container.

Vegetable Couscous (Make ahead – Partial)

Pre-heat oven to 400˚ F. Place uncooked couscous in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add hot liquid to the bowl, stir once and cover with saran wrap. Let it rest for 5-7 minutes.

Cut zucchini in half and bell pepper in 4 quarters, lengthwise. Lay out on a roasting sheet tray; drizzle vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes until slightly tender. Cool down and chop vegetables; set aside. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil and cover surface. Add onions, cumin, salt and pepper; sauté until golden brown and add to vegetable mixture.

Fluff cooked couscous with a fork into a large bowl; add vegetable and onion mixture and fresh parsley.Add lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil (optional); toss to coat.

Lamb Kofta

In a large bowl, combine ground lamb and rest of the ingredients through bread crumbs; mix gently. Cover and set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Split lamb mixture into 8 even parts. Form two 3” sausage-like meatballs around center of each metal skewer* (bamboo skewer ok) about 1” apart. Brush lamb with olive oil. Grill koftas until brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serve lamb koftas over vegetable couscous and the yogurt sauce on the side. May be served with Middle Eastern flat bread.

TO MAKE THIS DISH EXTRA TASTY:

Marinate lamb overnight. Once ground lamb has been seasoned per the preparation instructions, place in large re-sealable plastic bag. Seal bag and chill in the refrigerator overnight. This is another ‘make ahead’ tip that will add a lot of flavor to your Koftas and save you time! Bring out of the refrigetator at least 30 minutes before firing the grill!

Add onions to the skewers. Chop large chunks of brown onion and use on both sides of each meatball to add flavor and keep the meat moist. Brush with olive oil prior to grilling.

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