Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sesame Spiced Turkey Meatballs with Chickpea Kale Salad

Sesame Spiced Turkey Meatballs with Chickpea Kale Salad

The inspiration for this recipe came from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.   In the original recipe, turkey meatballs are served over a smashed chickpea salad.  I slightly tweaked the meatballs and upped the veggies in the salad.  I ended up roasting a LOT of kale for a few minutes, and then topping it with a chickpea/cucumber/tomato/olive/spiced salad.  Meatballs came on top of everything.  This was really delicious!

One of the key ingredients in this is za'atar seasoning.  This is a spice mixture that can include lots of different ingredients, but one of the important ingredients in the kind I have (from Penzey's) is sumac.  If you don't have sumac or za'atar, just be warned that this won't taste quite the same.  The za'atar mixed with some of the other spices and lemon juice creates a really unique and delicious flavor in this meal.

I was really happy with my modifications to the original recipe.  I ended up with four large servings that included lots of vegetables!  Also, I liked that by serving it this way I didn't miss the rice that one might normally serve these types of meatballs on.  I think this is a great warmer weather meal because  it is not served hot.  While the meatballs are warm, everything else is cool/cold.

This is a great way to bring some different flavors into your typical dinner.  Let me know if you give it a try!

Sesame Spiced Turkey Meatballs with Chickpea Kale Salad

Sesame Spiced Turkey Meatballs with Chickpea Kale Salad

serves: 4


For the Sesame Spiced Turkey Meatballs:
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs (process 1-2 slices of torn bread in a food processor for a minute)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted or not)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Chickpea Kale Salad:
  • 1 pound kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1 tomato, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup green olives, sliced (depending on how many you want)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar seasoning
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt + pepper to taste


1) Preheat oven to 400F.  Start by preparing the kale for the salad:  Carefully pile kale onto a large baking sheet (no need to line it) and sprinkle with minced garlic.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (you don't need a lot).  Set aside.

2)  For the meatballs: Combine all meatball ingredients except the olive oil in a large boil.  Mix until combined.   Pour olive oil onto a second baking sheet and move it around to coat the pan.  Portion  meatball mixture into balls about 1.5 tablespoons in size (I used my cookie dough scoop and then rolled into balls in my hands-- I ended up with 26 meatballs) and evenly space them onto the baking sheet.

3)  Once oven is preheat, add both meatballs and kale to the oven.  Cook the kale for about 3 minutes, until slightly wilted, but still fairly bright green.  Remove from oven, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and set aside.  Cook meatballs for about 10 to 15 minutes, until internal temperature is 160F to 165F (how long it takes will depend on how big you make the meatballs).  You can turn the meatballs over 1/2 way through, but this is not crucial.   Once meatballs are cooked, remove from oven and set aside.

4)  While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the chickpea salad.  Combine the tomato, cucumber  chickpeas, olives, spices, and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5) To serve, divide kale/garlic mixture evenly among 4 plates or large bowls.  Top with chickpea/vegetable mixture, and then the meatballs.  

(recipe adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

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