Oh, it's all blend and extend all the time in this house right now. Last week, I finally got around to trying this method of adding ground mushrooms to ground beef in order to make your meat go farther and add a serving of vegetable to dishes while you are at it. The result were these Jamaican Patty Pops and I have to tell you, I was actually kind of amazed at how much the addition of the mushrooms worked as far as texture and and keeping the meat moist was concerned. I spent the rest of the week perfecting these Middle Eastern Inspired MeatBalls, which had been my runner up idea for the appetizer challenge until I got it right. These little meatballs are also great on their own and made a nice little dinner served with a dollop of tzatziki, a greek salad and a chunk of bread.
If you are lucky to live near a store that sells middle eastern groceries, you can find the preserved lemons, pickled turnip and sumac there and some larger grocery chains like Loblaws carry these things as well, sometimes in the Kosher area. They are both easy things to make but require time to cure so they aren't last minute additions. As always, if you can't find them, leave them out. If you don't like spicy food, leave the hot pepper out and if you like it hotter, add more in. If you can't find a scotch bonnet pepper, use a jalapeno. Replace the preserved lemon rind with the juice from a lemon and the zest from about half of it and I would replace the pickled turnip with some julienned radish for some zingy crunch. You could also throw in some crumbled feta or a bit of arugula, some thinly sliced red onion. It's a sandwich, right?
Middle Eastern Spiced Meatball Wraps
Ingredients:350g ground beef
175g button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large scallions, rough chop
1/4 cup parsley, rough chop
1/4 cup cilantro, rough chop
2 tbls fresh mint, rough chop
rind from 1 small, preserved lemon, diced
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp sumac
1/2 seeded, chopped scotch bonnet pepper or to taste
1/2 cup panko
1 egg, beaten
large flour tortilla
tzatziki, hummus, chopped tomato and pickled turnip
Directions:Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped, scrape into a bowl and set aside.
Pulse the garlic, scallions, parsley, cilantro, mint, preserved lemon, ginger, salt, cumin, allspice, coriander, sumac and hot pepper until finely minced. Scrape into the bowl with the mushrooms and stir to mix well. Add in the ground beef and mix lightly with your hand before adding in the panko and the egg and mix thoroughly using your hand.
Divide the meat/mushroom mixture into approx 20 portions and roll into balls, the size of a large golf ball. Put on a tray in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
When it's time to cook, heat a pan over med heat and coat the bottom with a light film of oil. Put the balls in the pan and flatten them down a little with a spatula. Fry for about 4 minutes, flip and cook for about 3 or 4 more minutes more.
To assemble the wraps, lay out a fresh flour tortilla and spread some hummus down the middle. Add some tzatziki on top of that, then lay out three meatballs. Arrange some chopped tomato and pickled turnip over the top, scatter a few fresh mint leaves and wrap folding the ends in, then the flap closest to you, roll in over until it's all enclosed, just like you would for a burrito.
Heat a clean pan over med heat and spray with some cooking spray or brush with a light coating of oil. Put the wrap, flap side down and cook until the bottom is nicely browned. Carefully flip it over and brown up the top, remove to a cutting board and cut in half.