Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
  2. Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Weeknight Ragù

This comfort food dish was very well-received in my house. Everyone in my family was fighting over the leftovers! It was easy, full-flavored, and absolutely delicious.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and substituted sour cream for the heavy cream. I also adjusted the consistency of the finished dish with pasta cooking water. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 lbs ground pork, turkey, beef, or chicken, preferably dark meat
  • kosher salt
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Calabrian chiles in oil, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 7 T double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 7 T sour cream or heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs (20 to 24 oz) rigatoni, gemelli or other short pasta
  • 2 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • basil leaves, for serving
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high.
  2. Add ground meat in 12–14 pieces (patties), spacing evenly, and season with salt.
  3. Let cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned underneath, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn over and cook until deeply browned on opposite side, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (It won’t be cooked through.)
  5. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to pot over medium heat.
  6. Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add chiles/red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until paste is slightly darkened in color, about 3 minutes.
  9. Return meat to the pot and break up into small pieces.
  10. Add sour cream/heavy cream and 2 1/4 cups water.
  11. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, and simmer gently until liquid is reduced by one third and flavors have come together, 15–20 minutes.
  12. Season ragù with salt and pepper.
  13. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  14. Add pasta to ragù along with 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and Parmesan.
  15. Cook, stirring and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  16. Transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls. Garnish with basil and reserved Parmesan. Serve.

Weeknight Meatballs

The large size of these meatballs prevents them from becoming overcooked in the oven- genius. I also loved the store-bought marinara shortcut. We ate them with an entire loaf of sourdough baguette garlic bread which was essential. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I used ground turkey and modified the proportions. Easy and delicious comfort food. Everyone absolutely loved it!

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings, about 12 to 14 meatballs
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup milk or water
  • 1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 3/4 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef (20% fat) (or other ground meat)(I used 1 2/3 pounds ground turkey)
  • warm homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (I used 28 oz jar of Rao’s marinara)
  • basil leaves, chiffonade or torn, for serving
  1. Place rack in top third of oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly brush a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  3. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, vigorously stir eggs, panko, milk, salt, garlic powder, several cranks of pepper, Parmesan, and remaining 3 T oil in a medium bowl until nearly a smooth paste.
  4. Mix in one quarter of meat (combining just a small amount of meat in the beginning makes it easier to incorporate the rest without overmixing).
  5. Add remaining meat and mix well to thoroughly combine, but don’t overwork it.
  6. Using oiled hands or a large cookie scoop, form into 12 to 14 large meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake meatballs until well browned underneath, about 15 minutes. Using a stiff metal spatula, pry up and turn over meatballs (they may want to stick a bit). Bake until browned on second side and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers 160°, 4–7 minutes.
  8. Divide meatballs among plates and spoon some sauce over. Alternatively, warm the sauce in a large, shallow pan and place the meatballs into the sauce.
  9. Top with basil and more Parmesan.

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.

Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
  3. Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
  5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
  7. Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
  12. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  13. Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  14. Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
  15. Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Greek Stuffing

I have gone to a hair salon owned by a lovely Greek family for many years. Beyond being a relaxing experience to just be there, we often discuss food and new restaurants- it’s great. After hearing about this Greek Thanksgiving stuffing for almost as many years, I finally got the treasured family recipe. 🙂

This dish is reminiscent of one of my son’s favorite rice and meat dishes, Thai One-Pot, with a Greek twist. It incorporates cinnamon, raisins, roasted chestnuts, as well as pine nuts.

My friends eat it as part of their Thanksgiving feast, but it is also hearty enough to be served as a main course. We ate it for dinner with roasted broccoli on the side. I modified the original recipe by using fresh mushrooms and ground turkey instead of ground beef. It was very unique and delicious!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 24 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 13 oz organic roasted, peeled chestnuts, crumbled lightly
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 turkey liver or 2 chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 1-2 T ground cinnamon
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 T freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a 14-inch skillet.
  2. Add the chopped celery and onion; sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the rice: In a medium pot, bring chicken stock, rice, and 1/2 tsp salt to a simmer. Add the chestnuts, crushed tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, and cinnamon stick; mix. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pot so that I could use it to finish the dish.)
  5. While the rice is cooking, add the olive oil to the hot 14-inch skillet, followed by the ground meat and chopped liver.
  6. Season the meat with 1 T salt, 1/2 T black pepper, and 1 T ground cinnamon. Cook until no longer pink, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the rice is tender, remove the cinnamon stick.
  8. Add the onion, celery, and mushroom mixture to the cooked meat, followed by the cooked rice mixture. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

This recipe is absolute GENIUS. It was a genius idea for me to make it on Super Bowl Sunday too. I am usually cooking while my family is watching the game- and commercials- in another room. This year, the meal was cooked and ready to go; it was kept warm in the pressure cooker with the lid in place while I was sitting on the sofa with everyone. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the garlic and used ground turkey and whole wheat spaghetti. I also made it in my stove top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot.  We enjoyed it with garlic bread and Caesar salad. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 basil sprigs, plus more thinly sliced for serving
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (not thin spaghetti), broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or substitute veal, pork or beef)
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a stove top pressure cooker or Instant Pot on sauté. Stir in garlic, red pepper and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, salt and basil sprigs; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix together ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped basil, egg, salt and garlic. Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. (I used a large cookie scoop and placed them on a large plate, shaping them into balls when I placed them into the pot.)
  4. Pour 1 cup water into sauce in pot, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pot.
  5. Scatter uncooked spaghetti over the sauce.
  6. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over spaghetti, stirring gently (try to keep the spaghetti on top of the sauce), then top with meatballs.
  7. Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Manually release the pressure, then remove the cover and stir to separate the spaghetti.
  8. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  9. At this point, the pasta will be almost but not quite cooked through. Place the top back on the pressure cooker (loosely) and let it sit for 3 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and spaghetti is al dente but not mushy.
  10. Serve dolloped with ricotta, if using, and sprinkled with thinly sliced basil and more Parmesan if you like.

Turkish Meatballs with Lime-Yogurt Sauce

I have several recipes to share from Christopher Kimball’s wonderful book, Milk Street.

This recipe used several genius techniques. The first was using a French technique, panade, which incorporates a bread and dairy paste into meat to bind it together and keep it moist during cooking. These meatballs were incredibly tender as a result. The author also uses the microwave to infuse oil with shallots, garlic, and spices- genius!

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and substituted Greek yogurt for whole milk plain yogurt. I really loaded the pita bread halves with meatballs, sauce, and toppings making them essentially knife and fork “sandwiches.” These meatballs would also be wonderful served over rice with a green salad. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with 1 1/2 cups sauce

For the Meatballs:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • one 8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)(white pita is preferable)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 ounce), finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Lime-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 3 T tahini
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

For Serving:

  • 2 to 3 pita bread rounds, halved
  • tomato slices
  • cucumber slices
  • red onion slices
  • fresh mint or parsley leaves
  • lime-yogurt sauce

To Make the Meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together 2 T of the oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pita bread, yogurt, and water. Use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil mixture, the mint, ground meat, salt and pepper. User your hands to thoroughly mix.
  3. Divide the mixture into 12 portions, then use your hands to roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. In a 12 or 14-inch skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add half of the meatballs, and, using a spatula press them into 1/2-inch thick patties.
  5. Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs are well browned on both sides and register 140 degrees F at the center, about 4  min on the first side and 2 minutes after flipping.
  6. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

To Make the Sauce:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

To Serve:

  1. Fill half of a pita bread pocket with 2-3 meatballs.
  2. Top with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, herbs, and sauce, as desired.

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