Pasta and meatballs are a perfect match, but for a unique spin on this classic duo we turned to lamb instead of beef or pork, and to orzo instead of spaghetti, and we enhanced the dish with fresh, bold Greek flavors like mint, oregano, and cinnamon.
A panade — a simple paste made from Greek yogurt and panko — kept the meatballs moist and lent the dish welcome tangy flavor. We used our Dutch oven to deeply brown the meatballs and create lots of flavorful fond in the pot. Using some of the rendered fat to cook our aromatics gave our orzo pilaf a super-savory base.
After toasting the orzo to golden brown, we added a combination of white wine and chicken broth and cooked the orzo until it was nearly tender. We were then able to simply nestle our seared meatballs back into the pot to cook them through.
We finished the dish with a bright topping of cherry tomatoes, more fresh mint, and feta, which cut through the richness for a highly satisfying one-pot meal. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, you may need to brown the meatballs in two batches rather than one.
LAMB MEATBALLS WITH ORZO, TOMATOES AND FETA
Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes
1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons water
1 large egg
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint, plus 2 tablespoons torn leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cups orzo
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
Mash yogurt, panko, and water together with fork in large bowl to form paste. Stir in egg, minced mint, half of garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cinnamon until combined. Add ground lamb and knead with your hands until thoroughly combined. Pinch off and roll mixture into 18 separate 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown meatballs on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer to plate. Pour off all but 2 -tablespoons fat from pot.
Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to fat left in pot and cook over medium heat until onion is softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and golden, about 5 minutes.
Stir in broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has been absorbed and orzo is almost tender, 7 to 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low and nestle meatballs into orzo. Cover and cook until orzo is tender and meatballs are fully cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with tomatoes, feta, and torn mint. Serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 986 calories; 336 calories from fat; 37 g fat (14 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 179 mg cholesterol; 463 mg sodium; 97 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 57 g protein.
For more recipes, cooking tips and ingredient and product reviews, visit https://www.americastestkitchen.com. Find more recipes like Lamb Meatballs with Orzo, Tomatoes, and Feta in “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven.”
America’s Test Kitchen provided this article to The Associated Press.