US: Pasta and meatballs is a perfect match, but for a unique spin on this classic duo opt for lamb and orzo instead of spaghetti, and enhance the dish with fresh, bold Greek flavours like mint, oregano, and cinnamon.
A panade a simple paste made from Greek yogurt and panko keeps the meatballs moist and gives the dish a tangy flavour. Use Dutch oven to deeply brown the meatballs and create lots of flavourful fond in the pot. Using some of the rendered fat to cook the aromatics gives the orzo pilaf a super-savoury base.
After toasting the orzo to golden brown, add a combination of white wine and chicken broth and cook the orzo until it is nearly tender. Then simply nestle the seared meatballs back into the pot to cook them through.
Finish the dish with a bright topping of cherry tomatoes, more fresh mint, and feta, which will cut through the richness for a highly satisfying one-pot meal.
Lamb meatballs with orzo, tomatoes and feta
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 to high heat until it is just about to smoke. 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.