Monday, June 15, 2009

Zatar Spiced Meatballs

Sorry for the lag in posting, but I jumped at an opportunity in Chicago and will be here for the summer. Most of it is exciting, though trying to navigate a new city is challenging in ways I hadn't expected. I got accustomed to having a decent grasp of grocery store isles and that has gone out the window. It took me 4x longer to buy a basket's worth of food because I had no idea where things were and kept finding new products and needing to pour over the fine print. I am excited about upcoming farmers markets and finding some specialty stores.

In the kitchen I have had a few dinner success; last night was an impromptu aloo mattar with brown rice that turned a few left over potatoes and half a bag of frozen peas into a great meal. Last week I made pupusas for the first time.

Tonight I embarked on Zatar spiced meatballs. This isn't much of a recipe, its more of a list of things I through together, but I am actually proud of this fact. Throwing things together in a bowl/pot/pan was how I used to cook and doing it more and more often know makes me feel like I am getting my kitchen fingers back.

Inspired by some delicious zatar I picked up at The Spice House in Evanston, IL, I decided to modified the lamb meatball recipe I made in January, and worked off this Food&Wine recipe to create dinner.

Zatar (also spelled Za'atar, satar, zahtar or zatr) is a blend of herbs, sesame seeds and dried sumac. I love it sprinkled atop hummus, but I always think of Lebanese flat bread, that my mom brought home from the deli, smeared with olive oil and zatar when the spice is mentioned. I think missing that bread might inspire my next baking project... but back to dinner!

Zatar spiced meatballs
-diced 1/4 an onion
-minced 1 clove garlic
-zatar spice [WARNING - many zatar spice blends contain roasted wheat as an ingredient. Please read carefully!]
-salt and pepper
-1lb. ground chuck

The mixture wasn't coming together too well, so I added in 1 egg to help bind everything together.
Then I formed them into meatballs:

I pan fried them in a tablespoon of olive oil, drained them and served them up.

I added lime juice to some hummus and served it with the meatballs on a corn tortilla with a slice of pickle - hot sauce on the side, a bit reminiscent of the falafel at Rami's in Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA. For some crunch, there is cumin slaw and a watermelon & feta salad on the side.

Cumin Slaw
-head of cabbage, sliced thin
-half lime juice, half apple cider vinegar to coat cabbage
-a few pinches of salt (this is less than you think you need, its ok)
-whole cumin seeds (to taste)
Toss well to combine. This tastes better the next day.

Watermelon & Feta Salad - this is something I saw on Top Chef last season and thought was weird sounding, but always wanted to try. A sale on whole watermelons, $2.99 at Stanley's, sealed the deal. (Stanley's is seriously the most amazing place I have been to in a long time! They have the cheapest produce I have ever seen. The organic section is often way cheaper than the conventional. I was in sensory overload, and loved ever second.)
For the salad I...
-watermelon cubed
-chopped or crumbled feta
-thinly sliced onions (I used Vidalia)
-balsamic vinegar and olive oil to coat, really just a little because the watermelon will weep
-a few pinches of salt and black pepper

Dinner was a success and there is enough for left overs!

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