My fondest memory of eating Greek brings me back to my first year of university. Whenever my friends and I decided to stay in residence and have a girl’s night, we ended up ordering the most inauthentic chicken souvlaki meal you could imagine. We sprawled out around my dorm room to talk about our lives away from home while we bonded over our love for tzatziki sauce.
One thing I definitely don’t cook enough of is authentic Greek cuisine. To compensate however, I love using the essential herbs and spices that go hand in hand with Mediterranean cuisines. As an extra bonus, these meatballs are a healthy alternative since we use minced turkey + chicken, a bunch of spinach, and almost no added fat besides the vegetable oil you sear them in.
- 2 packs of minced turkey
(minced chicken would work too)
- White onion,
about 3/4 of diced
- 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, minced
- 2 big handfuls of raw spinach,
chopped like herbs (I know this is not a measurement, but it’s accurate)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- Panko breadcrumbs, add as you go
- Vegetable oil, for searing
- 1 + 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 tsp of onion powder
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 1/4 tsp of salt + pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Next, mix together all your spices in a small bowl and set aside.
Prepare your chopped vegetables also: the onion, garlic, spinach and cilantro and set aside.
[TIP] All of this prep may seem like of extra work but it will keep you organized in the kitchen and make the assembly of the recipe go way faster.
2. In a smaller skillet, let 1 tbsp of vegetable oil heat on low-medium heat. Allow the onions, garlic, and half of the spice mixture to saute until the onions are tender and almost translucent. Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes. Heat a larger frying pan with two glugs of vegetable oil on medium-high heat to prepare for the next step.
3. To a large bowl, add the minced turkey/chicken. Add one egg, the raw spinach and chopped cilantro, the cooked garlic and onions and the rest of the spice mixture. Combine together using your hands–I’m not going to lie, it’s not pleasant, but your hands are your best tool for the job.
4. Next is to add breadcrumbs. I don’t put a measurement in the recipe since I usually play it by touch-consistency and sight. The goal is to find the right binding consistency that will keep the meatball together so that it doesn’t crumble apart while cooking. However, too much panko can also dry out too much moisture which we don’t want since we’re using lean proteins with not much fat content.
I added panko 3 different times, incorporating after every set. For visual purposes, about this much:
5. Next, your heated pan should be ready to start searing the meatballs. Using your hands again, create golf-ball sized meatballs and place in pan. If you hear a sizzle? Perfect.
If the oil splatters too fast for your liking, turn down the heat to just below medium temperature. You will have to do this step quickly since you’ll have to wash your hands afterward for handling.
6. Using tongs, sear the meatballs onto all sides until they are beautifully golden brown. You may need to add a touch more oil as you cook but wait till the pan seems dry or is forming small crusty brown bits before doing so. When happy with the sear on the meatballs, transfer to the baking sheet.
7. Add another couple glugs of vegetable oil for your second round of searing. This round will be faster since the pan will have heated fully, but if you need to do three rounds of searing for your own comfort, by all means!
Repeat step 4 to sear the remaining meatballs. Remember you aren’t trying to cook them completely through–you just want some texture on the outside.
8. Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy hot — or cold, they’re amazing as leftovers.