This Greek-inspired pita recipe is a definite crowd-pleaser – both my husband and any dinner guests we have served them to love them! Moist lamb meatballs stuffed with rosemary and goat cheese are nestled in fresh pitas and topped with tzatziki, cucumber, tomato, greens and sauteed mushrooms. With all the veggies tossed in, these make a great meal on their own but can also be served with a fresh salad or some roasted (or grilled) zucchini.
The meatballs can be made in advance, frozen, and reheated for a quick weeknight dinner, or you can prepare the pita ‘fixins’ while the meatballs cook. Either way, prepare yourself for some pretty rave reviews come dinner!
- 2 oz goat cheese
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 454g/1 lb ground lamb (see tip below)
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1-1/2 cups chopped cucumber
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cups your favorite leafy greens (mixed greens, spinach, and/or lettuce)
- 4 whole wheat pitas
- Tzatziki, for serving
- Heat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, mix together the goat cheese and rosemary. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the lamb, egg, bread crumbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together with your hands until the mixture appears uniform.
- Using a kitchen scoop or spoon, scoop out one meatball and place it in your palm. Create a small indent using your finger, then put approximately 1/2 teaspoon of goat cheese in the indent. Seal the meatball around the goat cheese, pinching gently if necessary and rolling lightly between your palms. If there is a seam visible, place the meatball, seam-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. The finished meatballs should be about 2 inches in diameter (or you can make them larger if you like, just adjust the baking time accordingly).
- Continue making meatballs until all the meat mixture has been used up. If any goat cheese mixture remains, discard it.
- Bake meatballs for 15 to 18 minutes, until browned and cooked through. (Ground lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees F, however it is sometimes hard to insert a thermometer in to these meatballs without goat cheese leaking everywhere. I tend to sacrifice one meatball per batch and slice it open to ensure they’re cooked through.)
- Heat oil in small frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute until soft and have shrunk, about 8 to 10 minutes. Put the cooked mushrooms in a small bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Place chopped cucumber, tomato and greens into separate bowls.
- Just before serving, warm the pitas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds on low setting, until just warm and pliable.
- To serve, slice open the pitas (slice into the edge and then cut half way around). Spread tzatziki inside the pita, add three meatballs (you may want to cut the meatballs in half to make them easier to eat), and fill with mushrooms, cucumber, tomato and greens. Roll up and enjoy!
Bake meatballs then allow to cool. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in fridge overnight and then reheat gently in the microwave or oven.
Tip: It might be difficult to find fresh ground lamb, depending on your location and the time of year. If so, talk to your grocer or butcher about when they expect to have fresh lamb, or check to see if they have it in the frozen section. Make sure to thaw the lamb completely if it was previously frozen.
Meatball recipe inspired by: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/goat-cheese-stuffed-lamb-burgers/