Monday, November 5, 2012

Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce

I think appetizers are one of the most fun things to cook. Taking inspirations and putting them into bite-sized treats allows the imagination to run wild!

I also love football Sunday. I am a tried and true New York Giants fan (sorry to my New England followers...) and it is always a big day when the game is aired up here in Boston.

Since I am finally done with my fall exam, I decided that this football Sunday needed to be special and fun (let's just not discuss the final score of the game...)

Instead of making a full meal, I cooked up two different apps to enjoy all throughout gametime. First, I made a batch of Buffalo Chicken Dip from Skinnytaste. This stuff is SERIOUSLY good and more guilt-free than a traditional buffalo chicken dip. It's also incredibly simple to put together.

I baked 3 chicken breasts when I woke up that morning and let them cool completely. Then I used two forks and shredded the chicken into dip-friendly strips.

 I replaced the white wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar because that's what I had on hand. I don't think there would be any difference, so feel free to use whatever is in your fridge! The end result was creamy, spicy, hearty, amazing dip. This will definitely be an appetizer staple in my house.

I decided that just eating buffalo chicken dip was probably not entirely acceptable for two people. So to counter the spicy richness of the dip, I made a batch of Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki sauce.

These meatballs are SO GOOD. They have all kinds of great Greek flavors in them (one of my FAVORITE cuisines) and we gobbled these up real quick.

And the tzatziki sauce for dipping? An added and totally necessary bonus.

Here's what you need for Greek Meatballs and Tzatziki Sauce:

The meatballs:

1 pound ground lamb*
1 egg
1/2 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 zucchini, grated and drained of excess liquid
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
A good amount of vegetable oil for frying

*A quick note about the lamb...I absolutely LOVE the taste of lamb, and it seems so essential for these meatballs. Plus, lamb and cinnamon really dig each other. They're like peanut butter and jelly, only different. I know that it is an acquired taste for some. I would recommend ground turkey in it's place if you can't get on board with the lamb. Of course, I also encourage to give it a second chance especially for these balls of happiness. I usually find ground lamb regularly at Whole Foods.

The sauce:

1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, grated, and drained of excess liquid
1 lemon (zest and juice)
2-3 green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients (except the oil) using your hands. Do not overwork--mix just until all the ingredients bind together.

Using a teaspoon measure (since these are appetizers and thus should be small and cute), roll mixture into balls and set aside on a piece of waxpaper. I got about 36 1-inch meatballs from the measuremeants above.
Clean hands well.
Completely cover the bottom of a large frying pan with vegetable oil and heat on medium.
Add 6 to 8 meatballs to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, turning occasionally to be sure all sides are browned and the center is no longer pink. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. You can also brown the outside in the oil then bake in a 350 degree oven until cooked through.

Repeat, in batches, with the remaining meatballs. Serve warm with tzatziki sauce.

For the sauce, combine all the ingredients into a small mixing bowl. Mix well and adjust your seasonings accordingly.

Cucumbers, green onions, lemon zest and juice...
The finished tzatziki...
These meatballs are tastes of Greek heaven. Bursts of the tangy feta pair so well with the rich lamb and cinnamon. The zuchinni adds depth to the flavor in the meatballs, especially when fried. When you dip them in the fresh and light tzatziki sauce, YUM!

Let's talk leftovers (if there are any). The meatballs and sauce make a great lunch on their own, but you can also slice the meatballs in half and stuff a pita pocket with meatballs, tzatziki, hummus, lettuce and tomatoes for a dynamite lunch upgrade!

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