Turkey and courgette meatballs with spinach and feta salad

Last week I made the turkey and courgette meatballs from Jerusalem. They were not an unqualified success. Partly this is my fault – I forgot the spring onions, and still couldn’t find sumac, so abandoned the sauce. Both would definitely have helped matters.

But, well, turkey is bullshit, isn’t it?

Turkey and courgette meatballs with spinach and pine nut warm salad
Turkey and courgette meatballs with spinach and pine nut warm salad

Again, I won’t quote the recipe in full, but it’s pretty simple.

It’s grated courgette with turkey mince and an egg to bind. Neither of those are the most balls-out flavourful of ingredients, so a lot of the work is done by plenty of fresh mint and coriander, plus garlic, cumin, and cayenne. You just blend these things with seasoning and what turned out actually to be quite a lot of spring onion.

The mix is quite wet – it doesn’t look like it’ll hold together while frying, but it does if you’re careful when turning the patties over, and the colour is splendid.

With it, I put a simple salad of wilted spinach with toasted pine nuts, some fried onions and crumbled feta. So, basically a dollop of spanakopita filling, without the pastry or egg binding. Make sure the onions are cooked slow and gentle to soften without browning  much, you could even start to caramelise slightly. Wilt the spinach first, and press out the water. Then throw in the spinach and pine nuts with the at the end. This warms the spinach through, gets some oil coating it, and drives any last moisture off. Crumble feta through and serve. It probably needs a little salt, and would happily take a herb or two. Fresh dill would be the classic. But it’s perfectly tasty without.

The turkey meatballs are an odd one. The courgette is providing bulk and moisture rather than flavour, but there’s still a strong risk they’ll be crumbly and dry. Mine were. This in turn sits ill with the quantity of ground cumin, which can be grainy to the taste if not cooked out quite. The cayenne fades a little, so they’re not overpoweringly feisty, but the overall taste definitely lacked something.

Basically, there’s a reason the recipe had plenty of spring onion in it, and I really should have gone out to get some once I realized my mistake. The freshness would have certainly helped, especially if they retained some crunch. Which, given the quick cooking time they almost certainly would have.

I still think the main problem is that turkey doesn’t really taste of anything. Seriously, it’s balls.

The salad was great however, and I’ve made it as a light main course since.

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