Spicy Sesame Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpeas with Tzatziki

I’ve been waiting all week to post these bad boys.

This past weekend, Husband and I hosted my parents.  Normally, this is a good excuse to shuttle off to that restaurant we’ve been dying to try but can’t quite justify the expense…but since my parents were coming off a 3-day Civil War/college reunion tour, they wanted some home-cooked food. Enter sandman Deb Perelman.

Tip: next time your parents are coming off a 3-day Civil War tour (I’ll let you all ponder that in your heads.  Parental units hopping on and off a bus, checking out battlefields, dressed in orange and/or tiger stripes, chanting about Old Nassau.  My dad , the civil war buff, bopping about in his Abe Lincoln t-shirt.  My mom, the bewildered German, wondering when the part is when she gets to see her kids.  Makes me giggle.) make them this.

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Spicy Sesame Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpeas with Tzatziki (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

for your meatballs

  • 1 pound ground turkey (use a mixture of lean and fatty meat, so it does not dry out)
  • about 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • small handful cumin
  • small handful coriander
  • large pinch of salt & pepper
  • about a tablespoon of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (better if toasted quickly)

for your chickpeas

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • small handful sumac
  • a big bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • a bit of lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch salt, pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
  • olive oil
  • optional: olives (blech) or anchovy paste (yum), to add brininess

for your tzatziki sauce

  • about two cups plain Greek yogurt
  • about 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a little grated zest
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • optional: fresh dill, 1 clove minced garlic (there’s lots of garlic in the rest of this recipe, so I omitted it, or I should say, Husband omitted it, since he’s in charge of tzatsiki in our house!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Comine all of your meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly, using your hands, but do not overwork the meat.  Shape the meat into little golf balls.
  3. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large saute pan and brown the meatballs.  Do not overcrowd the pan.
  4. On a large pan covered with aluminum foil (to make your cleanup easier!), bake the meatballs for about 10 – 13 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, get your smashed chickpea salad going.  Combine all of the chickpea ingredients in one bowl, minus olive oil.  Mash (a potato masher works well!) together – leave it a big chunky.  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.
  6. Finally, mix all of your tzatziki ingredients together in another bowl.  Season to taste.
  7. Serve everything together, all at once, and let the praise wash over you like a college fight song.

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The Verdict:

I know it LOOKS like a lot, but if you have the ingredients, this is easy-peasy and oh-so-good.  Mom, Dad & Husband all raved about this little combination, which we also served with salad and pita bread…tiding us all over until the next Civil War battlefield tour.

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Roasted Salmon with Horseradish and Homemade Dill Creme Fraiche

All of the Safeway grocery stores in DC have an alliterative descriptor, ranging from the innocuous to the offensive.

There’s the Social Safeway up in Georgetown (also sometimes known as the Single Safeway), where it’s rumored you can pick up a date (it’s also just the closest Safeway to the Georgetown campus).  There’s the (former) Secret Safeway, which no one could ever find – (now a ridiculously delicious small-batch grocery store; if you visit DC, you must eat their kale slaw).  There’s the Senior Safeway, located by the Watergate, where some of our more…experienced citizens live.

And there’s the Safeway closest to us, not-so-affectionately known as the Soviet Safeway.  This nickname is based on two primary reasons: 1. its inability to stock fresh bread and anything but the most wilted of vegetables; and 2. its obscenely long lines.

All of this is a (very long) say of saying I don’t buy fresh fish often.  The Husband loves this, as he’s just not into fish.  As someone who negotiates with my sister for the last piece of lox, I feel differently.

This salmon (not from Safeway) was amazing – recipe based on Cooking Light‘s.  It takes a while – but none of it is hands-on; make it the night before, spend a few quick minutes before you leave for work in the morning, and it’s ready in 20 minutes after you get home.  I promise it will make for a very fiesta-y Friday.

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Roasted Salmon with Horseradish and Homemade Dill Creme Fraiche

**if you want enough creme fraiche to adequately feed more than 2 people, would suggest doubling the ingredients starting with heavy cream going through s&p**

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (about 3-4 sprigs)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 big tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 1 pound salmon (this is enough for 2 people, with leftovers for lunch)
  1. Prepare creme fraiche: before you go to bed, combine cream, buttermilk and vinegar in a small bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature, about 8 hours.  When you wake up, add the dill, about 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Cover again and refrigerate, about 8-12 hours.  You’ll have a lovely, tangy sauce when you get home from work.
  2. Prepare horseradish “marinade:” combine a pinch of salt, pepper, horseradish, parsley, shallots, capers and olive oil in a small bowl.  Mix thoroughly, and then spread over the salmon fillets.  Cover and refrigerate, about 8-12 hours.
  3. Cook fish: preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place fish (skin side down) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast for about 12-15 minutes, or until done.  Serve with creme fraiche and a side of simple, roasted asparagus (which magically takes the same amount of time as the fish!).

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The Verdict:

The Husband cleaned his plate.  I nearly licked mine.  Pack any leftover fish with a bit of spinach and a dollop of the sauce, and have yourself a merry little lunch.  Also: when was the last (or any, in my case) time you made your own creme fraiche!?  There’s something that’s definitely not stocked at our Safeway.