Healthy Lamb Kofta with a Simple Tahini Sauce

Here’s how the Mediterranean diet does meatballs.

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When it comes to meatballs, everyone thinks their own family’s recipe is the best. That’s because the meatball can be made in so many ways.

In America, we’re most familiar with the Italian and Swedish versions, but nearly every region of the world has some variation of a meatball. To name only a few, there are also Spain’s spicy albóndigas, South America’s skilpadjies, Japan’s tsukune, Poland’s pulpety, and the Mediterranean kofta.

Kofta varies by country (and can also be called kefta, köfte, keftedes, and so on). They can be made with lamb, beef, or even fish, such as in Bangladesh. In this episode of Eating by Heart, Colombe Jacobsen shows how to make a classic lamb kofta with the traditional condiment: a simple tahini sauce.

What makes these meatballs undeniably Mediterranean is their seasoning. While the meatballs found atop spaghetti are spiced with oregano and garlic, this lamb kofta has mint and parsley. (Here’s how to chop those herbs quickly!) It also uses bold spices like cumin and Turkish paprika. These flavors are classic in the Mediterranean region.

The tahini sauce is a typical condiment in Mediterranean food. (You might recognize it as the pale, thin sauce found in pitas with shawarma or falafel.) It is made from ground sesame seeds, which are extraordinarily high in calcium. Like most seeds and nuts, they are also full of heart-healthy fats and plant-based protein.

To round out the meal, consider some warm whole-wheat pita bread and a classic Middle Eastern side dish like tomato-cucumber salad. This fresh side is diced tomato, cucumber, and onion tossed with parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice, so the seasonings complement the lamb kofta perfectly. (Here’s the trick to dicing the tomato and how to slice an onion without crying!)

  • 1 cup tahini sauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 dash of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds pasture-raised ground lamb (best from shoulder with excess fat removed)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced mint
  • 1 tablespoon Turkish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a large bowl combine tahini, lemon juice, parsley and salt. Stir until combined. 2. In another medium sized bowl add the ground lamb, chopped onion, parsley, mint, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, lemon, and egg. Mix until combined. With wet hands shape into small 3” patties. 3. In a large grill pan add olive oil and place over high heat. Grill Kofte until nicely browned on each side, about 3-4 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves: 4
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Calories 72036%
Fat 56gr86%
Cholesterol 147mg49%
Sodium 222mg9%
Carbohydrates 21gr16%
Fiber 8gr32%
Sugar 3gr6%
Protein 40gr78%

*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Dairy Free
Dairy Free
Gluten Free
Gluten Free
Lower Sodium
Lower Sodium
Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar