Greek lamb meatballs and rice is great Mediterranean comfort food, perfect for the chillier days and earlier sunsets of this time of year! And you can make this comfort food right in one pot. Bonus! So, get together some brown rice, ground lamb (or beef you prefer), a few spices and herbs, a packet of snap peas, and – of course – a sprinkle of feta to put it over the top. It’ll take about an hour start to finish, but most of that is in oven so you can relax while dinner cooks. Double bonus.
I love pasta and meatballs! It is one of our favorite dinners around here and one that always satisfies. However, Italian meatballs aren’t the only meatballs in the world. Shocking, I know. 🙂
A while back, I thought I’d try for a Greek spin on meatballs. With lamb. And oregano. And plenty of feta. And some lemony rice.
Actually, I started with orzo pasta, but it tended to fall apart in the time I needed to braise those yummy meatballs, and I wanted a one-pot meal (less dishes!) which meant cooking everything separately was a no go. So, then I thought – RICE. In the time it takes to get happy, braised lamb meatballs I would also have happy, cooked rice.
Since we are all about brown basmati here, that’s what I used. It does take longer than white rice (if you’re in a hurry, you can cut 20 min off the cooking time!), but it adds lots of flavor and more nutrition to the dish, so I think it’s worth it.
A few pointers about the recipe:
- Don’t skimp on the lemon. It adds so much bright flavor to the dish!
- Don’t skimp on the salt either. You want those meatballs to be full of flavor and salt is important for that.
- Also, be gentle with the meatballs. Not too many breadcrumbs! And use a loosely packed ground meat.
- You can use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh, but the fresh oregano packs a big flavor punch.
- Definitely pop the pan in the oven when you are ready for the braising portion of the program. You can cook it on the stove top, but you will have to be very vigilant so it doesn’t burn. (Don’t ask me how I know. 🙂 )
- The rice will still be fairly saucy when you take the pan out of the oven. Don’t worry. It’ll soak up the juice while it rests.
- And add the feta! It really does put it over the top.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
- 1 lb ground lamb (or beef)
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup shredded kefalotyri (or parmesan cheese)
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 1/2 cup vermouth (or white wine) or white wine
- 2 3/4 cups low or no sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 slices lemon seeded and cut into
- 8 oz snap peas cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 6 oz feta cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- To make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, mix together all the meatball ingredients until combined. Divide the mixture into 12 meatballs.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and brown them on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a bowl.
- If needed add another tablespoon of olive oil; then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, and kosher salt. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice. Cook the rice for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the vermouth and simmer for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, coriander, and lemon zest. Bring the stock to a boil.
- Return the meatballs to the skillet. Scatter the lemon slices over. Cover and place skillet in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and add the snap peas. Let the rice rest for 5 minutes with the cover on. Stir in the lemon juice and fresh oregano. Serve topped with feta cheese.
- You can use white basmati if you prefer. Just reduce the braising time to 20-25 minutes.
- Fresh mint and fresh thyme make great additions to the recipe. Add them with the fresh oregano at the end.
- Frozen baby peas make a nice substitute for the snap peas. They barely need to cook so stir them them with the lemon juice after the rice has had its rest.