1 hour 30 mins
0 hours 10-15 mins
1 hrs 45 mins
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This recipe was completely inspired by Geoffrey Zakarian from the Food Network. I love Greek and Mediterranean food and I love lamb kabobs. When I saw what he did with ground lamb and how he turned it into a skewered lamb souvlaki, I knew I’d try it. But I decided to make meatballs for my pita “sandwich”. It was a little faster for me and I used a cast iron skillet to get the meat crispy and browned on the outside (Much like I’d get if I was grilling lamb on an outdoor grill.) I had to make other tweaks to his recipe (I don’t like cilantro… I apparently have that “soap” enzyme everyone is talking about… LOL) and I used fat-free Greek yogurt and light sour cream much to Geoffrey’s dismay. (Taking care of my heart, so I try to limit the saturated fats… there are plenty in the lamb so I cut out extra where I could without sacrificing flavor.) I left out and added where I needed to and made this my own and the results are great. If you like those Mediterranean flavors, give this a try. What Chef Zakarian introduced me to in this recipe is a heavier hand with spices. I don’t usually use a lot the spices in this recipe to flavor my meat. I really liked it. The Tzatziki is also made completely different than my usual sauce so this was a really different and exciting dinner. Thanks for the inspiration!
1 Cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 Cup light sour cream
1/2 Cup finely chopped English cucumber
1/4 Cup grated onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 Tsp. ground cumin
1/2 Tsp. honey
1/2 Tsp. kosher salt
1/4 Tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Cloves garlic, grated
1 Lb. Ground lamb
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
2 Tsp. Ground coriander
2 Tsp. Ground cumin
1 Tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 Tsp. Ground allspice
1/4 Tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 Clove garlic, grated
1 Cup English cucumber, thinly sliced and cut into half-moons
1/4 Cup Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 Small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
3 Compari tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil for brushing pitas
1 Tsp. Zaatar
2 Lemons, cut into wedges
1) In a large baking dish, combine the lamb, oil, coriander, cumin, salt, allspice, cinnamon and garlic until combined. Do not overwork the meat or it will be tough. Divide the meat into four sections and then again so you have about 8 small mounds of meat. Shape each one into a meat ball. Cover the dish and chill for an hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
2) In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, onion, dill, vinegar, cumin, honey, salt, cinnamon, pepper and garlic until combined. Set aside in the refrigerator to chill. You can make this the night before too.
3) Before you cook the lamb, make the salad topping. Mix the cucumber, parsley, oregano, onions and tomato in a large bowl. In a small dish, add the vinegar and 3 tablespoons oil and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and gently toss to coat.
5) A couple of minutes before the meat is done, brush the pitas with some oil and sprinkle with the zaatar seasoning. Heat a skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Add the pitas and heat and lightly brown on both sides. This will take 2-3 minutes per side.
6) To serve, top a pita with 2-3 lamb meatballs, some tzatziki sauce and top with some salad.
7) Serve with the lemon wedges and extra tzatziki sauce on the side. Enjoy!
NOTES: This Lamb Meatball Souvlaki makes regular appearances at my house. I also love Lamb kabobs and usually had them at family events until I made this grownup lamb meatball “sandwich”. This dish is easier to make and family and friends really love the fresh salad on top so it has become a favorite. Authentic Souvlaki is made with marinated meat like lamb that is then grilled and served on pita or with a salad. In this recipe, I’m substituting Greek lamb meatballs for the lamb chunks like you’d find on a kabob. Greek lamb meatballs are easier to make and chew and my family just likes them better. I’ve kept all the traditional flavors of Souvlaki in this dish and also have all the traditional toppings.
In NYC, we used to get lamb Souvlaki wraps right off the food trucks. They’d wrap skewered, marinated grilled lamb in warm pita bread, top them with sauce and wrap them in foil so you could eat as you walked. So delicious. BTW, don’t confuse Souvlaki with Gyros which use a thinner cut of meat. That meat is piled up on grilled pita bread and then topped with the traditional Tzatkiki, and Greek salad.
So, if you love these flavors, try this Greek lamb meatball alternative. Whether you call it a wrap or a sandwich, it is delicious.
A couple of notes about this recipe:
1) You will have extra sauce left over. Use it on chicken or serve it as a dip with veggies and crackers.
2) Be sure to taste both the sauce and the salad for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you like. Seasoning is a preference so use your taste buds to decide for yourself.
3) You’ll note I used fat-free Greek yogurt and light mayo. Feel free to use full fat if that works for you. Either way, the flavors are great.
4) While the Chef recommended keeping the meatballs in the fridge overnight, I only let my meatballs rest an hour before cooking. They still came out great. While I use a skillet to heat my pitas, these would be great thrown on an outdoor grill so be sure to do that if cooking outside.
If you like lamb, be sure to try some of my other lamb recipes like my Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Rosemary & Thyme with Roast Garlic Aioli or my Leg of Lamb with Garlic Gravy
Other lamb favorites include: