There’s a place called The Olive Tree. The Olive Tree is a Greek/Mediterranean Café that happens to serve the best kofta kebabs ever. They’re so good that I wanted to learn how to make them so that I could have them whenever I wanted. And I am sooo glad I did because these kofta kebabs– made with ground lamb, garlic, onion, and a ton of spices– are so juicy and flavorful that you won’t even feel bad that you’re eating a little lamb. And they’re even better with tzatziki, a greek sauce made with yogurt and cucumbers. After making this dish, you’ll feel like you belong in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Originally from Food Network [makes 4-6 servings]
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1 pound ground lamb
3 tablespoons grated onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, parsley, and spices.
2. Line a pan with aluminum foil. Divide the meat mixture into 28 rough balls. Mold each piece around the pointed end of a skewer, making a 2-inch oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. Lay the skewers on the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. (Or just stick the balls on the stick like I did because it’s way easier.)
3. Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare a grill. Brush the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki and flat bread.
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled
1. If you’re using plain whole milk yogurt, line a small sieve with a coffee filter. Put the yogurt in it, set it over a bowl, and refrigerate 12 hours. Discard the expressed liquid and put yogurt in the bowl.
2. Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub into the cucumber with your hands. Set aside 20 minutes, then squeeze the cucumbers to express as much liquid as possible.
3. Smash the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Stir the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint into the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.