Like so many food blog lovers, I was anxiously awaiting the release of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook last fall. Deb's blog is arguably one of the best out there, so I could not wait to try her new recipes in her long-awaited cookbook. Lucky for me, Deb's book tour swung through DC, so we got to see her at Politics and Prose. So exciting and inspiring!
She still has a few appearances to go, hopefully near you!
Her cookbook does not disappoint. I want to try ALL the recipes (and will one day!), but one in particular stood out. A friend told me she made this for her boyfriend, and that it was so good they just stared at each other with wide eyes. With that, it became the first of Deb's recipes that I made.
It takes two steps: first the meatballs, then the chickpea salad.
Start with the meatballs:
Prepare the ingredients: ground turkey, breadcrumbs, water, spices, egg, and sesame seeds. The original recipe calls for Aleppo pepper, but I used regular ground black pepper. I also used store bought bread crumbs instead of making my own.
First, toast the sesame seeds. Spread them in an even layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. It doesn't take very long, so be sure not to burn them!
In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients lightly with a fork.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Wet your hands, and form the turkey mixture into small meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches (golf ball sized, according to Deb). Place them on the baking sheet.
Heat several tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs, leaving some room between them and working in batches if necessary. Brown them on all sides, turning until completely browned.
Once browned, move the meatballs back onto the baking sheet. Bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes and then set them aside.
Meanwhile, make the smashed chickpea salad. In a large bowl, mix two cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, sliced green olives, spices, lemon juice, and garlic.
Mash it with a potato masher, large fork, or pastry blender until it's coarse but not mushy, like this:
Now usually I hesitate buying special ingredients for a recipe and try to get by with what I already have in my pantry, like the pepper. This salad calls for a spice called sumac though, which I splurged for because the taste really makes the dish. According to Deb, it's "a dark-red ground powder that tastes almost like a sour paprika and is used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking." I was intrigued, and it was worth it! Sumac adds a nice, dynamic flavor to this otherwise simple salad, and I really liked it.
Next, drizzle the salad with olive oil and sprinkle with more sumac to make it look pretty. Serve it cold or room temperature, topped with the turkey meatballs. The cool salad and warm meatballs work SO well together. Plus, it works well re-heated as leftovers, too. Make sure you only heat up the meatballs, though. Enjoy!
Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad
Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
1 pound ground turkey
2/3 cups breadcrumbs
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo or black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Canola oil to coat pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, lightly mix all ingredients until just combined. Heat several tablespoons oil in a large pan. With wet hands, form 1 1/2 inch meatballs and brown in pan, turning occasionally. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 - 15 minutes.
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup sliced green olives
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Option: Chopped fresh parsley
In a large bowl, combine everything but the olive oil and mix to combine. Using a potato masher, large fork, or pastry cutter, smash the mixture until coarse but not mushy. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Garnish with additional ground sumac. Serve with Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs.