In October of last year, I made one of the best, and prettiest, dinners I’d had all year and couldn’t wait to tell you about them. Then I got a *little* (29 flights and 24 cities in 7 weeks) busy and somehow (somehow!) they — along with the Dutch apple pie, this endive salad and some brown butter carrots I’m still holding out on you — fell by the wayside. And so let me present a long-overdue entry in the Best of 2017 files, eagerly hoping to make a run in 2018.
This dish is inspired by two others. The first is a favorite recipe from my first cookbook, the sesame-spiced turkey meatballs that teeter on a lemony smashed chickpea salad; I will forever love the combination of lemon, spices, chickpeas and just enough protein to balance the meal out. The second is a sheet pan chicken with turmeric, roasted and lightly pickled red onions and lemon I spied on the New York Times website last year and couldn’t get out of my head. However, I’m on a bit of a meatball kick, especially since I recently realized (only after all of you have been telling me for years and me stubbornly waiting to find out) how easy they are to bake, and how delightfully they keep their golf ball shape when you do. And those spiced meatballs, just barely tweaked, work fantastically here.
The result is packed with flavors, textures and color; and we scooped it into bowls with lemony salted yogurt and lightly pickled onions and pita wedges, and all I want it more fun, playful dinners like this all year.
One year ago: Crusty Baked Cauliflower and Farro
Two years ago: Swiss Chard Pancakes and Blood Orange Almond and Ricotta Cake
Three years ago: My Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup and Butterscotch Pudding
Four years ago: Chicken Pho
Five years ago: Gnocchi in Tomato Broth
Six years ago: Buckwheat Baby with Salted Caramel
Seven years ago: Pizza with Bacon, Onions, and Cream
Eight years ago: Barley Risotto with Beans and Greens
Nine years ago: Vanilla Almond Rice Pudding
Ten years ago: Crunchy Baked Pork Chops and Pickled Carrot Sticks
Eleven years ago: World Peace Cookies and Leek and Mushroom Quiche
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
1.5 Years Ago: Corn, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta
2.5 Years Ago: Very Blueberry Scones
3.5 Years Ago: Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings and Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
4.5 Years Ago: Grilled Bacon Salad with Arugula and Balsamic and One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes
Sheet Pan Meatballs with Chickpeas, Turmeric and Lemon
If you’d like to keep this dish, and meatballs, dairy-free, you can replace the 1/4 cup plain yogurt with 2 tablespoons of water, bringing the water in the meatballs to 1/4 cup. And of course skip the salted lemon yogurt at the end.
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound (455 grams) ground turkey
- 1/2 cup panko, or another plain, dry breadcrumb
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, hot paprika, or red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint leaves, or a mix thereof, plus more to garnish
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 3/4 of a lemon)
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- Toasted pita wedges
- Harissa or another hot sauce
Meanwhile, make meatball mixture. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a fork or (my recent discovery) a potato masher to mix. Form into 1.75-inch meatballs; I use a #40 cookie scoop, which holds about 1 2/3 tablespoons.
Remove sheet pan with chickpeas from the oven (leave oven on) and move the chickpeas to the sides of the pan, clearing a space in the center. Lightly coat center with a thin coat of oil, either brush or spray it on, just to be safe. Add meatballs to oiled area, not touching. Place baking sheet in oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.
Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
Combine yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
When meatballs are cooked, scatter remaining fresh herbs over the tray. Serve with lemony onions and yogurt, toasted pita wedges and hot sauce. Repeat as often as needed.