Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lamb and Lentil Mini-Meatballs with Cumin Yogurt Dip

Meatballs are usually a hit with the Kid Cultivation crew, but since Roo is allergic to eggs, my go-to substitution is silken tofu. It works beautifully in these Asian-Style Pork Mini-Meatballs, but given Beans love for beans and Looly's hatred of them, I thought I'd try something new.
I was hoping lentils would bind the meatballs and keep them from drying out. Mission accomplished. What I hadn't anticipated was the nice little bite the lentils would give the lamb, such a pleasant snap with each mouthful. They're a little unexpected and boast great flavor with or without the tangy yogurt dip. Cocktail parties, Christmas, New Year's Eve, I'm keeping this one in my back pocket for the holiday party potluck scene.

So, like I said, Looly abhors beans. She possesses a particular vehemence for lentils. She loves a plump sauce-covered meatball, however, especially if it came from Noodles & Company, but I digress. Even at home, she'll eat a meatball with sauce on it most of the time. I was fully prepared to drizzle marinara over these bad boys in anticipation that she would complain about yogurt sauce but I never got a chance. All three kids took down the meatballs before I got any sauce on the table - cumin yogurt or marinara. That never happens!
Now aside from Mufasa's praises, there were no rave reviews, choruses of delight or requests for second helpings from the six and under set. But the important thing is that the meatballs disappeared - no prodding, arguments, threats or negotiations. Of course Looly has no idea she ingested lentils, but I'm already eying a can of chickpeas.

Lamb and Lentil Meatballs

1 cup cooked lentils
1 pound ground lamb
3/4 cup Panko or other bread crumbs
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 small onion, grated or finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Put the lentils in a large bowl. Using your hands, mash the lentils a few times until about half of them are mashed into a paste and half are intact.
3. Add the lamb and all other ingredients to the bowl with the lentils. Mix well with your hands until everything is nicely combined.
4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the meat mixture into small balls, about 1 & 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on baking sheet and cook approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with Cumin Yogurt Dip (recipe below)
 Cumin Yogurt Dip

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped, fresh mint
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Serve with Lamb and Lentil Meatballs.

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