Baked Greek Chicken Meatballs with Tzatziki

I’ve been slightly under the weather today, but not enough to actually warrant being “sick.”  I’m just enough under the weather that I’ve been hearing something rustling on my kitchen table all day, but just now found the energy or curiosity to look over and see that it’s the wind moving the magazine sitting there.  I’m not sick enough to not work, but I am icky enough to work in my sweatshirt on my couch while watching Ina Garten.  You get the picture.
I don’t have a segue into the food above, just that I wanted to let you know that there could have been a wild animal in my breakfast nook all day, but because I feel slightly under the weather I didn’t care enough to, you know, look up.  What is that sound?  It sounds like a mouse rustling around.  Or a raccoon.  It’s Probably nothing.  The cat will take care of it.


What is that about?  I think it has something to do with wanting my mommy when I don’t feel 100%.

I also want to tell you about dinner last night.  All day today I couldn’t stop thinking about it and mentioned it no less than 4 times.  It was all of my favorite flavors on one plate! It was a full meal, not just a bowl of pasta!  Look at me go!

It started with a craving for Greek salad, which you will hear about soon, and evolved from there.  I didn’t want anything as heavy as beef or lamb, so I decided to make a chicken meatball spiced with Greek seasonings and one of my all time favorite sauces, tzatziki.

It starts with meatballs.  Put a pound of ground chicken in a bowl.

 

Add half an onion, diced, and 3 cloves of garlic that are minced.
Now for the seasonings.  A teaspoon of dried oregano, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and the zest of one lemon.  Then add some salt and pepper, of course.  The oregano brings that yummy Greek flavor and the lemon zest gives it a great fragrance and freshness that is usually missing in meatballs.
Add an egg and some breadcrumbs and get your (clean) hands in there and mix it up until just combined.  Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with a tough, dense meatball.
When the meat is well mixed, lightly oil a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the meatballs out with your hands.  I made mine pretty big because I wasn’t eating pasta or anything with them, and I wanted them to be stand-alone.
Drizzle the tops with a little bit of olive oil and put them in the oven for 12 minutes.  After 12 minutes flip the meatballs and cook them for 12 minutes more.  If you make your meatballs smaller you won’t need to cook them as long, just make sure that when you cut into it and peek inside, there is no pink.

While the meatballs are cooking, mix up your tzatziki.  Tzatziki is a Greek-yogurt based sauce that is spiced up with garlic, cucumber, dill and lemon juice.  I’ve made a tzatziki sauce before with grated cucumber, but this time I decided to peel and dice the cucumber very small and leave them like that.  The result was a slightly less strong cucumber flavor and a nice crunch.

Add some Greek yogurt to a bowl and add half an English cucumber that has been peeled and small diced.
Next take a handful of fresh dill, remove the stems, and chop.  Add that to the yogurt and cucumber.
Grate or very finely mince 1 small clove of garlic and throw that in.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the juice of half a lemon.  Mix it up!
Chill that in the refrigerator until dinner is ready, then serve on the side of your Greek chicken meatballs.
The chicken meatballs are moist and get a slight crunch on the edges from the baking sheet.  By baking and not frying the meatballs you lighten them up considerably without sacrificing taste.  The mild chicken flavor is supported by the bright lemon zest and the earthy oregano.
When topped with the tzatziki sauce this dish is Summer on a plate.  It’s fresh, it’s tangy, it’s light–it’s everything you’d ever want to eat when the sun stays out past 9:30.  Add a Greek salad panzanella, which you will hear about soon enough and which will completely blow your mind, and the entire meal is a filling, light, well balanced meal.
Greek flavors are some of my favorites during this time of year, and this dish is no different.  That tzatziki sauce might be my favorite part of the whole thing.  Gosh that stuff is good.

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Here’s the recipe!


Baked Greek Chicken Meatballs with Tzatziki 

For the Meatballs:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you can handle it!)
  • 1 lemon’s zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a baking sheet and set it aside.
  2. In a medium bowl add the ground chicken.  Add the onion and garlic, the oregano, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Add the egg and the breadcrumbs.  With clean hands, lightly mix the chicken mixture together until just combined.  Be careful not to over mix.
  3. Roll the meatballs in large portions.  Place them onto the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and flip them over and cook them for 12 more minutes, or until they are no longer pink inside.
  4. Serve with tzatziki sauce on the side an a Greek salad (Coming soon… did I mention that?)

For the Tzatziki Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced very small
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 lemon’s juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated or minced very fine
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a bowl combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, chopped dill, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  2. Serve with Baked Greek Chicken Meatballs!

Enjoy!

 

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