Friends are such a gift. When you combine friends with good food…particularly a home-cooked meal…it’s a winning combination for a memorable night. Since we have dinner parties so infrequently, we usually go big. That means spending about a day doing nothing but meal prepping — chopping, slicing, dicing, baking, cleaning, shoving things in closets, you name it. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it (something I can literally obsess over for weeks) and a whole lot of love (and failed experiments). Plus, when there’s two kids who are trying to help, it takes that much longer.
Over the next three posts, I’ll be sharing what I cooked for our Mediterranean-inspired party for 10 (including our two littles). It was the perfect weather — about 82 degrees, sunny, and little to no humidity. In fact, it was one of the last perfect nights before the mega humidity and rain has settled into stay for the summer. We stayed out on the back patio chatting late into the evening, sipping on wine while the kids slept peacefully in their beds. Ahhh…those summer nights!
This beef and lamb kofta lettuce wrap with tzatziki and a Mediterranean salad was our appetizer, but this could EASILY be your main course. I’ll start with the Mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad — easy and refreshing — that accompanied the beef and lamb kofta lettuce wrap with tzatziki.
Can we just talk about how massive this cucumber is??! It could eat my child!
Put the salad in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it. Next is the kofta. If you’re not familiar with kofta — think of it as a South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Balkan meatball (and you’ll often see it in a shape of a log). You combine a lot of spices into a bowl…
Add your choice of ground meat…
Form them into patties or balls…
And bake those suckers!
The final presentation included some Boston lettuce leaves as the base, with a smearing of tzatziki, then meatballs on top of that. On the side of the plate, I put a couple of spoonfuls of the Mediterranean salad to give some fresh crunch.
Mediterranean Tomato Salad
- 12 Campari tomatoes tomatoes, diced (about 3 cups diced tomatoes)
- 1 Large English cucumber* (or hot-house cucumber), diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground Sumac
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
*These are usually the cucumbers that are wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. Our stores call them hot-house cukes
- Place the diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and leave to drain for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the tomatoes and cucumbers to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to combine. Enjoy!
Beef and Lamb Kofta Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki
These meatballs, full of Mediterranean spices, are so unique and pair really well with the creamy and refreshing tzatziki.
- 1/4 c. of Panko break crumbs
- 8 ounces ground sirloin
- 6 ounces lean ground lamb*
- 5 tablespoons grated red onion, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons diced English cucumber
- 12 Boston lettuce leaves
*You could easily do this with all sirloin if you didn’t want the lamb
- Preheat your oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with lightly greased aluminium foil (or non-stick aluminum foil).
- In a large bow, combine bread crumbs, beef, lamb, 2 tablespoons onion, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; mix gently until just combined. Shape mixture into 12 (1-inch-thick) balls and place them on baking sheet.
- Cook for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, combine yogurt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cucumber, and remaining 3 tablespoons onion in a medium bowl, stirring well.
- To assemble, arrange lettuce leaves on a large serving plate; top evenly with tzatziki then kofta. Include some of the Mediterranean side salad next to your yogurt and meatball spread.