Thursday, August 20, 2009

Greek Meatballs and Lemon Couscous with Lemon Yogurt Dressing

Every once and a while I like to dig through my cookbooks and old cooking magazines to see if anything sparks an interest. The more I experiment with cooking and step out of my comfort zone, the more I find I like. If 5 years ago you tried to get me to eat a piece of sushi, I would have ran as far away as I could. 10 years ago I would have stuck up my nose at feta and couscous. I didn't know any better. I knew Italian food and I only knew the Italian food I grew up on. That was all great but there were so many things I didn't know, there was a whole other world of Italian food and of course, other cuisines I've never even seen. So going through these old magazines again are like going through them for the first time with a new set of eyes and a new set of taste buds. I found this particular recipe in a 2005 issue of Cuisine at Home. I used to get a subscription and I'm starting to think I should order it again. There are tons of great recipes and tips and no advertisements. It's about 50 pages of just recipes and photos!

This recipe was definitely a winner and I had all the ingredients so I followed the recipe exactly. Remember, if you don't have everything here you can still make this, it will just taste slightly different depending on what you substitute. However, I do want to recommend that you use the feta and the kalamata olives. They are excellent together and bring all the flavors together. I couldn't help but laugh to myself as I mixed oregano, scallions and feta into the meatballs. What would my grandmother think?! She'd definitely be horrified but she was so set in her ways that she wouldn't be able to understand that not all meatballs are Italian.

Greek Meatballs

from Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 52
August 2005

Makes 12 Meatballs


1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp scallions, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 lb ground chuck
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted, halved
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cups tomatoes, quartered or 2 cans whole tomatoes (28 oz. each)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cucumber
lemon zest
Lemon Couscous, see below
Feta Yogurt Dressing, see below


Combine Crumbs milk, feta, parsley, scallions, salt, oregano and egg in a mixing bowl.

Stir in the ground chuck and mix lightly but well. Shape the mixture into balls about 2" in diameter.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add olives, garlic and pepper flakes to the pan and saute 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, return meatballs to pan, and simmer 5 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve over couscous, topped with feta dressing and garnished with cucumber and lemon zest.

Feta Yogurt Dressing

Makes about 1/2 cup


1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


Combine all ingredients and stir well. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Lemon Couscous

Makes 2 cups


3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup dry plain couscous


Bring broth, lemon juice, butter, and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add couscous, stir, and cover. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.


Spryte said...

Wow!! Those look great!!!

Bob said...

Looks great, I love oregano in meatballs. Course, I love Greek seasoning in general. ;)

Lynda said...

This sounds so good!You had me at the meatballs, but as I kept reading I find there's alot of flavor in this dish! Bookmarked!

Danielle said...

This sounds fabulous! I've never made greek anything (that I know of)...but meatballs sounds like a great place to start. I'll have to "star" this recipe :)

Patti T. said...

There are so many great spins on meatballs aren't there? This sounds very tasty.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Your story sounds so much like mine....5 years ago I would never had thought of eating it is one of my summertime favorites! And hummus? Never! Yet I love it so much now, I make my own!

Culinary Alchemist said...

Those look SO delicious, I love greek flavors. You have made me hungry for meatballs, and your mentioning that not all meatballs are Italian, just reminded me that I have not made Swedish Meatballs in a LONG time.

Christine said...

This looks so yummy! I am hosting a dinner next month and I have chosen a Mediterrian theme, this will be a great addition. Thanks!

Bridgett said...

I love the feta yogurt dressing. These look amazing!

Stacey Snacks said...

I am glad you tried something different.
I had a girl here for dinner tonight, she HATES brussels sprouts, eggplant, cucumbers, blah blah......I made a ton of food and she LOVED everything. She apologized and was suprised she had never tried all of these foods, just thought she hated them, because she only grew up with roast beef and potatoes!
My husband was a bad eater, now he even eats sushi (on rare occasions!)

Teanna DiMicco said...

Hahah I am the SAME WAY! Didn't touch sushi, mushrooms, tomatoes, salt, ANYTHING! But obviously that has changed greatly! And I love looking back at old magazines where I bookmarked recipes to see where my tastes were years back! Needless to say, my tastes have changed even since I started cooking! Those meatballs, though, would forever be in my repertoire!

John said...

Looks great! But wouldn't your Italian grandmother want you to make ITALIAN meatballs??!?!? ;-)

Michele said...

Thanks everyone! These were fun to make because they were familiar but with an unfamiliar twist.

John - Of course you are right! If you look on my side bar you can see my recipe for ITALIAN meatballs!

Stacey, it was a very long time ago that I was picky like that!

Farmgirl Cyn/Teanna - Isn't it how we can be so scared of what we don't know? I'm glad I got over that!

Christine said...

I shared this recipe with a coworker and eager as she was she made it last night and brought it to work today. DELISH! Very flavorful. I can't wait to make it myself. Thanks for sharing this fantastic dish.

Michele said...

Christine I am sooo glad you liked it!!! It was my first time ever making anything greek besides tzaziki sauce and I thought it was great too!

Christine said...

Michele, have a question about this recipe. Two of my co-workers have made it and while it was delicious they both had the same problem, the meatballs fell apart. The only thing they changed was using 93% lean beef rather than the chuck. Do you think this could be the reason the meatballs didn't stay together?

Michele said...

Hi Christine,

I'm sorry that this happened to your friends. Mine did not fall apart but in the past I have had my meatballs split open a bit. I think it was because they were either too wet or too dry. It's possible that because the chuck has more fat it provides more moisture. Maybe they could try adding a splash of milk if they feel too dry. Also, did they increase the amount of meat to egg? That could affect it too. Have they ever made meatballs before? It could be that they weren't formed well. Let me know. If they have trouble forming their meatballs they can use the same recipe with little patties. Like a flat meatball. What do you think?

Christine said...

Neither are strangers to meatballs, too much moisture is what each thought the problem was. Next will be my turn to make them for my Mediterranean theme dinner! Hopefully mine turn out, but either way it is still super yummy. Thanks for your advice.

Michele said...

Anytime! Let me know how it comes out. Email me

Ivy said...

I've been craving these! My Greek host mother used to make them when I spent a summer abroad, she'd always make them with a HUGE amount of garlic. Thanks for recipe and lots of pictures! Nom nom!

Rikki said...

I Just stumbled across your website and I really like it!

I like the simplicity of your recipes and them not being exacting.

I'm an American living in Italy currently and with all the pasta, fresh cheeses, meats and olives possibilities it's overwhelming and sometimes I just hit a mental cooking block. Your site has a lot of great ideas and combinations.

I will try this Greek dish on my British friends tomorrow, I don't know if my Italian friends would approve ;) lol.
By the way, you wouldn't by any chance know what ground chuck is in Italian? I'm constantly guessing at the grocery store, my Italian isn't quite yet up to par.

Thank you very much for your website!


Michele said...

Rikki - You're so lucky to get to cook with all the best ingredients! I don't speak Italian but I asked my friend and she said that Ground (as in ground meat) is "macinato" and she thinks that Chuck is "spalla", but not sure. I hope that helps!