Spiced Green Meatballs with Pickle Rice and Salty Yogurt

SERVES: 4

These meatballs can be made with any and all types of ground meat, or a mixture of a few, so do your thang and play around with different combos. You’ll roast the meatballs on a baking sheet set on the oven floor to maximize browning without overcooking the meat--it’s a great hands off alternative to searing them in a skillet, which allows you to spend your time elsewhere in the recipe.

Active Time: 55 Mins

Total Time: 1 hrs 15 mins

Spiced Green Meatballs with Pickle Rice and Salty Yogurt

Produce

  • 2-3 bunches mixed tender herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, and/or mint)
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 garlic clove

Pantry

  • 8 baby dill pickles, plus 3 tablespoons pickle brine
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (or 2 tsp ground coriander)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup panko
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups long grain white rice

Dairy

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt

Meat

  • 1 ½ pounds ground meat, such as chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and/or beef

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Make the cucumber pickle salsa:

  • Finely chop enough herbs to yield 1½ cups chopped when lightly packed into measuring cups. Measure out ½ cup and transfer to a medium bowl. Reserve remaining 1 cup chopped herbs for the meatballs.
  • Dice 1 English cucumber and 8 baby dill pickles into ½-inch cubes. Transfer to the medium bowl with the herbs. Thinly slice 4 scallions and add half of them to the bowl, reserving the rest for the meatballs.
  • Grate one clove of garlic and add to the bowl along with ½ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons pickle brine, ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Stir to combine, check for seasoning, and adjust to your liking with a touch more salt or pickle brine, if desired.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

3. Cook the rice:

  • Place 2 cups long grain white basmati rice in a fine-mesh strainer and set it under cold running water.
  • Using your hands, swoosh the rice around in a circular motion while the water runs through it, until the water runs clear.
  • Shake the strainer to allow the excess water to drain off the rice.
  • Place the rice in a medium (3-quart) saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Stir in 2 ½ cups cold water and 2 teaspoons salt.
  • Set the rice over medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, cover the pot with the lid and reduce the heat to very low. Set a timer for 16 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Remove the lid, and fluff the rice with a fork.
  • Keep the rice covered in the pot until ready to serve.

4. Make the balls:

  • Coarsely chop 1 tablespoon coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (or use a mortar and pestle).
  • In a large bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Add 1 cup panko, the chopped fennel seed and coriander seed, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, 2 ¼ teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Add about one-third of the ground meat, the reserved 1 cup mixed chopped herbs, and the 2 reserved chopped scallions.
  • Use your hands to gently mix the panko mixture into the meat and herbs until it is evenly distributed and no pockets of panko remain. Mix in the remaining two-thirds ground meat until fully combined.
    Roll the meatball mixture into 8 equal-sized balls, (about heaping ⅓ cup meatball mix per ball).
  • Arrange meatballs evenly spaced on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Transfer to the oven and place directly on the oven floor.
  • Roast, turning once halfway through, until meatballs are deeply golden on the sides making contact with the baking sheet, about 16-18 minutes. The meatballs should be firm, but with some bounce when you press on them gently.

5. Serve it up:

  • Season 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt with salt.
  • Stir about 2 cups of the cucumber-pickle salsa into the fluffed rice. Season to taste with salt.
  • Divide the rice among bowls.
  • Top with meatballs, a drizzle of salty yogurt, and more salsa.

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