Keftedakia with avgolemono

    50 min

    These little meatballs, made from a mixture of minced lamb and rice, flavoured with thyme, lemon and nutmeg, are grilled on sticks for easy eating - a perfect party nibble. The classic Greek egg and lemon, or avgolemono, sauce has a tangy flavour, which is a perfect complement for the meatballs.

    5 people made this

    Serves: 12 

    • 30g (1 oz) long-grain rice
    • 2 small red onions
    • 400g (14 oz) lean minced lamb
    • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
    • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into 24 small squares
    • extra virgin olive oil for brushing
    • salt and pepper
    • For the avgolemono
    • 1½ tsp arrowroot
    • juice of 2 small lemons
    • 100ml (3½ fl oz) lamb or chicken stock
    • 1 small egg
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:25min  ›  Cook:25min  ›  Ready in:50min 

    1. Place the rice in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes or according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
    2. Soak 24 long wooden cocktail sticks in warm water for about 10 minutes, then drain. Preheat the grill to moderate.
    3. Cut each red onion into 12 thin wedges, keeping them still attached at the root end.
    4. Combine the minced lamb, finely chopped onion, cooked rice, garlic, thyme, nutmeg and lemon zest in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well together using your hands. Shape the meat mixture into 24 small balls.
    5. Thread a meatball, 1 piece of pepper and 1 onion wedge onto each cocktail stick. Arrange in one layer on a rack in the grill pan. (The kebabs can be prepared 3–4 hours ahead and then kept in the fridge, covered with cling film.) Brush lightly with oil and grill for 15–18 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.
    6. Meanwhile, make the avgolemono. Mix the arrowroot with about half of the lemon juice, then stir in the rest. Heat the stock in a small saucepan until boiling, then stir in the arrowroot and lemon juice mixture. Bring back to the boil, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat.
    7. Put the egg in a bowl and whisk lightly. Slowly pour in the hot stock mixture in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly. Return to the pan and whisk over a low heat for about 4 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thick. Do not boil or the egg may curdle and spoil the texture. Stir in the chopped thyme, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    8. Serve the meatball skewers with the hot avgolemono sauce.

    Some more ideas

    Use green or yellow instead of red pepper, or replace it with wedges of bulb fennel.

    For a quick and easy lemon-mint dip, stir the grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint into 200g (7 oz) Greek yoghurt.

    To make turkey and sage meatballs, replace the minced lamb with minced turkey, and use 55g (2 oz) fresh white, Granary or wholemeal breadcrumbs instead of the rice. Flavour the turkey mixture with 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage in place of thyme. Make the lemon dip with chicken or turkey stock, and chopped sage instead of thyme.

    Plus points

    Minced lamb can have quite a high fat content, but because these meatballs are grilled, much of the excess fat is drained off.

    Making the meatballs with a mixture of lamb and rice means less meat is used than normal, and healthy starchy carbohydrates are added with the rice.

    Each serving provides

    Useful source of vitamin A, vitamin C.

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