Please do not ask me to detail what I have eaten in the past couple of weeks. The holidays have turned me into a walking garbage disposal for all things fried, fatty, or fudgy, and just trying to remember exactly what that entails gives me a bit of a stomach ache. I’m not saying that I regret it, but I’d rather just pretend it didn’t happen… maybe we’re on the same page here.
One thing I definitely realized this year is that there are very few options for tasty and not-so-sinful appetizers out there. (Or at least not that my friends and family members seem to be aware of.)
I think sometimes the best appetizers are the ones that use interesting flavor and texture combinations rather than deep frying or heaps of sugar to keep your taste buds happy, so I decided to make these Cucumber-Wrapped, Feta-Stuffed Meatballs for a far less guilty indulgence.
This fun appetizer was inspired by my favorite type of food: Mediterranean. Often toted as being the “World’s Healthiest Diet”, Mediterranean food features heart and waist healthy ingredients– but this is not why I love Mediterranean food. I love it because it is so freaking delicious. It works out nicely.
To make these easy meatballs, I seasoned up some ground meat and shaped it around small cubes of salty feta. As I cooked them in a bit of olive oil, I sliced up some cucumber using my mandoline and spritzed it with a bit of lemon juice from my citrus sprayer. Then, I wrapped the cucumber around the meatballs and secured it with a toothpick. That’s really all it took!
I served these to my coworkers with a bit of hummus on the side, and they were a hit! I’ll definitely be making these again for my next get-together (or maybe just for dinner, with chopped cucumber instead of slices). Give them a try yourself and you’ll love them, too!
- 6 oz block feta cheese, cut into small squares (about ¾")
- Olive oil, for pan frying
- 1 bunch mint leaves
- 2 small cucumbers
- Fresh lemon juice
- Hummus or tzatziki, to serve
- 1.5 lb ground turkey, beef, or lamb
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup onion, minced or grated
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients. Mix well.
- Roll the meat mixture into 20 meatballs. One at a time, flatten the meatballs slightly, place the feta on top and press lightly, and then form the meatball again around the feta. Continue until all of the meatballs are stuffed with feta.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add in the meatballs in batches and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set the meatballs on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Using a mandoline, thinly slice the cucumber. Spritz or drizzle with lemon juice.
- Place a small mint leaf on top of each meatball and wrap the cucumber slices around the meatballs. Secure with toothpicks.
- Serve at room temperature or cold with hummus or tzatziki.
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