Greek Bowl with Meatballs

 
  • Is your recipe rotation getting as tired of "quarantine" as you are? 
  • Have you run out of ways to use that pound of hamburger? 
  • Are you dreaming of exotic flavors - even though they'll be experienced around your own dining room table?
If you said yes to any of the above - or even one of them - I have a solution. Jill sent me a link to a new-to-her recipe that got thumbs up from the big people and little people at her house. It's now garnered a couple of other thumbs up from her dad and me.

Greek flavors don't show up on our dinner table as often as Italian, Mexican or good ol' American fare. But I think we may make a "trip" to the Mediterranean a little more often now that we've tried this recipe.

The meatballs are flavored with pork rinds. Since I was going to the grocery store anyway, I added pork rinds to the shopping list. For the record, I don't think I had ever purchased or even tasted a pork rind before this. Jill forgot to tell me she just substituted panko breadcrumbs. The recipe originator also suggested leftover garlic bread as a substitute for the pork rinds. Maybe the pork rinds provided a little extra flavor boost, but it's not a deal-breaker if that's not in your quarantine pantry arsenal.

The original recipe called for English cucumber, which has fewer seeds and a little less moisture. But I worked my way around that by using a regular, run-of-the-mill cucumber, grating it, and then squeezing out excess liquid before adding it to the Tzatziki Sauce.
I also didn't have fresh herbs available, so I substituted dried herbs. Dried herbs have a much more concentrated flavor, so the general rule of thumb is to use a third of the amount of dried as you would fresh herbs. I also cheat and use refrigerated minced garlic.

This recipe was the perfect place to use some of the "fancy" herb-scented olive oil Brent gave me for Christmas, but regular olive oil will work, too.

It may look complicated, but it's really not. Enjoy! If you try it, let me know what you and your family think!
Greek Bowl with 
Mediterranean Meatballs
Adapted from Our Life Tastes Good blog

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated cucumber
1 tsp. freshly minced garlic
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh dill
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly-cracked black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Mediterranean Meatballs
1/4 cup pork rinds, crushed
1 large egg
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp. freshly-minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly-cracked black pepper
1 lb. hamburger

Mediterranean Orzo
1 cup orzo
1 cup finely-diced cucumber
1 cup finely-diced tomatoes
1/2 cup finely-diced onion
1 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup feta cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

Toppings
Feta cheese
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish (I used green onion tops)

For Tzatziki Sauce: Grate cucumber. Squeeze excess moisture from it. Combine Greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper. Mix in lemon juice and stir to combine. Give it a taste and adjust the flavors to your liking. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. For best results, prepare Tzatziki Sauce earlier in the day or the day before. Keep refrigerated.

Meatballs: Combine hamburger with the other ingredients. Mix well. Form into meatballs using a medium-size scoop for uniform size and then roll into a ball. (You can form them by hand if you don't have a scoop). Place meatballs on a lightly-greased baking tray. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your meatballs. Rest meatballs 5-10 minutes before serving. (I lined my baking sheet with foil to make for easy clean up.)

Orzo: Prepare orzo as directed on the package until tender. Drain well. Toss with a little olive oil. Add diced cucumbers, onions and tomatoes, along with parsley, lemon juice and feta cheese. Toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve for each individual serving: Put rice in the bottom of the bowl. Top with 3-4-5 meatballs. Drizzle with tzatziki sauce. Garnish with additional feta cheese and chopped parsley (or chopped green onion tops).

Other notes:
  • You can use panko breadcrumbs or other dried bread instead of pork rinds. 
  • Fresh dill and parsley weren't available at my hometown grocery store. I substituted dried herbs. Dried herbs have a much more concentrated flavor, so the general rule of thumb is to use a third of the amount of dried as you would fresh herbs.
  • The original recipe called for an English cucumber, which has less water content. I didn't have that available, so I used a regular cucumber and then squeezed the moisture from the grated vegetable before adding to my Tzatziki Sauce.