I honestly can't remember when I started falling for mid-east cuisine, but I've fallen hard. Its still a treat for me too, since Steve isn't a huge fan of Middle Eastern and Greek foods. Is this a guy thing? I've heard of many other guys who, as one put it, "have never found (him)self craving something with chickpeas." But hummus, tahini, falafel, dolmades, spanikopita, I'll take it all.
This is a pretty good introduction to this part of the world's food - nothing too drastic but still a few new flavor combos (Apricots in a meatball? Say what?!?) None of these ingredients are too difficult to find either - the ground coriander could be tough, but you can always take coriander seeds and grind them in a peppermill if you like.
One thing I would change is to use my handy-dandy food chopper to chop the red onion - they didn't hold together very well with all the chunks of onion and apricot floating around in there. Smaller pieces would fix that, I believe.
And don't miss out on the dressing - its a refreshing bit that will totally transform the meal!
Meatballs with Couscous and Feta
Adapted from Real Simple, October 2010
1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup vinegar (white is just fine, but rice vinegar is pretty tasty)
1 pound ground lamb, beef, or a mixture of the two
1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small red onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 box couscous such as this
4 ounces Feta, crumbled
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. (Can be done ahead of time) Combine the cucumbers, sliced onion, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, and set aside (refrigerate if making this ahead of time).
2. Heat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, apricots, coriander, chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Form into 1 ½-inch balls (about 20) and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until cooked through, 18-22 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to the box's directions.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.
5. Serve the couscous with the meatballs and cucumber salad - sprinkle feta over the top. Drizzle with the dressing.