Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs

I'm a sucker for any food served with a yogurt sauce. Whether it's tzatziki, raita, or cacik, I love them all. When my sister first made this kebab recipe last summer, I was instantly hooked. The keftas are delicious on their own, but when they get smothered with yogurt sauce, they taste amazing. This is one of those barbecue foods that disappears withing minutes of being set on the table.

The kefta kebabs are a little spicy, so you can tweak the amount of cayenne pepper used to your liking. I also didn't put the kebabs on skewers because I find it easier to grill them on their own. If you do want everything to be on a skewer, make sure you let the kebabs begin to cook through before flipping them on the grill. If you get overly excited and turn them too soon, they'll probably fall off/break apart.

I love the zucchini kebabs and the flavor they get from the lemon juice. Make sure you cut them wide enough so they can be threaded onto the skewers. If you're not a zucchini fan, you can use other grill friendly vegetables, or just make the meat. But whatever you do, don't skip the yogurt sauce! It is really easy to make, so there's no good excuse not to make it (unless you're lactose intolerant). This is one of my favorite kebab recipes and has a great "Middle Eastern" flavor.

Adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4

For the yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the zucchini:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini (1 1/4 lb total), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

For the keftas:
2 slices sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 lb ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

If you are using wooden skewers, begin by soaking them in water for 30 minutes.

To make the yogurt sauce, mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and chill until you need it.

To marinade the zucchini, mix together the lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar, and olive oil in a bowl. Add the zucchini and toss. Allow to marinade at room temperature while you prepare the keftas.

For the keftas, start by soaking the bread pieces in a bowl with water (make sure the bread is covered) for 10 minutes. When done, squeeze out the excess water and put the bread in a bowl.

In a food processor, pulse the onions, parsley, and cilantro finely until chopped. Add the bread, lamb, salt, and all the spices. Begin rolling out the keftas into balls, about the size of a rounded tablespoon. Flatten them slightly if you do not want to use skewers.

If using skewers, thread the keftas about 1/4" apart onto skewers. Thread the zucchini onto the skewers the long way (piercing through the flesh on either side).

Heat a grill to medium high. On an oiled grill rack, grill the keftas and zucchini until cooked to your desired level of doneness. Do not overcook these, cook until they are just done for the best results. Serve warm with yogurt sauce.

If you do not have a grill, you can broil these for 4 to 6 minutes on 2 baking sheets, about 5 inches from the heat course. Turn the keftas and zucchini kebabs over once during this process.

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