Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

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Meatballs are the coolest. The ones you see pictured aren’t your typical Italian, breadcrumb-filled, pork and beef meatballs, though they are my first love. These are a little different. There’s so much flavor like mint (whoa!), a good amount of cumin, ground up turkey and zucchini up in these things. They’re topped with a sour cream and Greek yogurt sauce that’s perfectly tart and creamy with little hints of sumac. Very special.

This recipe comes from the upcoming book JERUSALEM. (If you were a fan of the book PLENTY, then you’ll love this, too.) It’s a beautifully laid out book, with stunning pictures, lots of history and vivid descriptions about Jerusalem, the city and its cuisine. I’m pretty excited about it.

In the book these were actually called Turkey and Zucchini Burgers–and if you like, you can shape these into patties–but I figured since the party attending season is coming up, I’d miniature size them and make them appetizer friendly. But you have options!

I never promise “easy” if the recipe isn’t easy, but these are easy. Promise.

This meat-a-ball process starts with making the sauce. It’s Greek yogurt, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Also, sumac!

If you’re not familiar with sumac, it’s a Middle Eastern spice that comes from the berries of a flower. It has a bit of a tangy flavor that works really nicely on top of these meatballs. I will admit, that even in Los Angeles, it’s a little difficult to find. If you do buy it just for this dish, other uses include: a little sprinkling atop hummus, in the dressing for a fattoush salad, dusting it on roasted potatoes, and I’m personally super curious how it tastes on popcorn.

If you have trouble spotting it at your grocery store, it’ll be okay–this dish will still taste amazing without it.

These meatballs have green onion, cilantro and mint.

The mint is my favorite. You get little bits throughout the meatball, making them taste… almost refreshing.

I never had a meatball even come sort of close to being refreshing, until these.

Zucchini is still hanging out at the farmer’s markets here in LA.

If that’s not the case in your part of the world, I bet butternut squash or kobocha would work nicely, too.

The meat mixture situation gets added to a bowl. And then all mixed up.

I used a tablespoon measure to scoop out the mixture and shaped each little cute meatball with my hands. They get a little pan fry and then to the oven to finish the cooking process. Serve them on a platter. With skewers. And the sauce.

Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

Print this recipe!

1 pound (300g) ground turkey
1 large zucchin, coarsley grated (scant 2 cups/200g)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 6 1/2 teaspoons sunflower oil (canola oil will work too)

Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:
Scant 1/2 cup (100g) sour cream
Scant 2/3 cup (150g) Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. First make the sour cream sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the sunflower oil. Mix with your hands. Using a tablespoon, scoop a tablespoon and a half of the turkey mixture and shape into about 22 meatballs.

3. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16 inch thick on the pan bottom. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the meatballs in batches on all sides. Cook each batch for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown.

4. Carefully transfer the seared meatballs to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

Recipe from JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy @Macncheesenpeas October 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Yum!! these look like a healthier version of classic meatballs. I’d love to try it with butternut squash because I don’t think we have zucchini at my farmers market in Boston.


Kasey October 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Ah! I am so glad you posted this recipe – it was one of the ones my eye was immediately drawn to in the book. My first thought was, ‘drat! zucchini is pretty much gone from my market!’ I only wish I had the recipe sooner. Love the adaptation of the burgers to meatballs cause, let’s face it, who doesn’t love meatballs?


Margherita October 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Love love love turkey meatballs and can’t wait to try this version with zucchini. I also love the sauce recipe; sounds like a great combination!


Jackie October 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm

These sound so delicious and comforting, perfect low carb too since there is no bread crumbs. Zucchini is one of my fav vegetables, must try this recipe!


Bev @ Bev Cooks October 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I wanna stick my face on those.


Carolynn October 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

oh my, those look so good I don’t know if I could eat them!


Leah October 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I love putting veggies in meatballs! And I think sumac is pretty cool – it’s almost like salt and vinegar flavoring in a spice…to me anyway!
Can’t wait to get a copy of Jerusalem – I love the meatball idea.


Katie @ Blonde Ambition October 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I took a middle eastern cooking class earlier this year and was introduced to sumac…I love it! I bet it’s perfect with the mint too.

Ground turkey gets bland so easily, but I love everything you added to these, especially the zucchini. This summer I was sneaking zuccs into everything I could!


Yelle October 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm

These look absolutely amazing! I would love these for an appetizer at Thanksgiving.


rosita vargas October 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm

¡Qué bella propuesta! abrazos y abrazos.


Julie @ Table for Two October 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I love the ingredients and flavors you got going on in that little meatball! It’s so little yet is packed full of flavor and goodness!


Rachel @ Baked by Rachel October 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Love this idea! It’s such an interesting twist on meatballs.


Laura October 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I am totally making these for my meatball-loving 5 year old. These look wonderful!! And I am so excited for that book, it is at the top of my xmas list!


Jess October 16, 2012 at 1:16 am

Those are totally lovely, and would be such a fun dinner! Great idea to make them into meatballs. Who doesn’t like meatballs?! 😉


Abby October 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

These look delish. Can these be made ahead of time? And any idea if they’d stand up to the freezer?


Adrianna October 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

I made a few extras I had last night and they were great, so I say yes they can be made a day or two ahead of time. As for the freezer, I haven’t tried it but I can’t see why not. Just be sure to store them in a freezer-safe container.


Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet October 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

These look fantastic! I imagine a little larger, with a nice green salad or tabbouleh would make a great dinner. Yum!


Heather@SugarDish(Me) October 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

I’m sort of sad right not the I didn’t grow any mint in my herb garden. I’d like refreshing meatballs!


Emily@ Totes Delishy October 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

I think these can be characterized as healthy-turkey,zucchini,baked. That means I can eat obscene amounts of them without feeling guilty! Can’t wait they look fantastic and I love sumac!


GIGI October 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

hmmm these look so diff. yum! will have to try this. every recipe ive made so far has turned out awesome! thanks. gigi. food and beauty blogger @ http://www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com


Becky October 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

These look and sound delicious!! Definitely saving this recipe :)


Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes October 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

I love meatballs – all varieties!


Eileen October 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

Zucchini in a meatball is a great idea! Every time I hear anything about this book, I’m more and more impressed. :)


Megan October 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

These look amazing. I saw the burger recipe in Jerusalem the other day and actually stopped and drooled over it. Making them into meatballs is inspired! (I’ve decided I’m doing a Mad Men party for my birthday this year, and meatballs are definitely retro enough to add to the menu. This recipe makes them a little classier and tastier, though!)

Also, I had commented on the giveaway blog about how my upcoming dinner on Friday night was expected to be incredible. It absolutely was, but the reason I bring it up is because they did the whole meal from the Jerusalem cook book! As I was eating, I was like, “Some of this is so Cozy Kitchen.” We had the stuffed peppers, sweet potatoes with fig and goat cheese, and bulgar wheat and coriander salad. My favourite thing though was the beetroot and yoghurt dip. I actually thought it was some kind of hummus at first. You must definitely try it!


Adrianna October 17, 2012 at 12:23 am

HAHA! This is the best comment ever. Thank you, Megan. That’s sounds like an awesome dinner party, fareal. I was eying that beetroot and yogurt dip, going to try it now! Thank you!


Suzanne Perazzini October 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Cumin, cilantro, garlic, mint and all with sour cream – I’m sold. They look so wholesome and delicious.


Christina @ The Beautiful Balance October 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I am definitely passing this on to my meat lovers :) LOVE that you used sumac in this recipe, so creative :)


Jayne October 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I love this combination! We can’t get ground turkey where I am though. Perhaps ground pork might work.


Adrianna October 17, 2012 at 12:24 am

Yes! Ground pork would be pretty tasty.


Jane October 17, 2012 at 6:10 am

Just found your blog and these meatballs look amazing! What a fun twist on regular meatballs :)


britainknee October 17, 2012 at 7:51 am

Yum! I love turkey meatballs, but I’ve never thought of adding vegetables to them- zucchini sounds like it would be a great addition!


Mara @ Elemental Custard October 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

YUMMM these look super delicious. Ground turkey is my new favourite thing for meatballs and chilli. I totally will add zucchini next time!


Maddie October 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

If you’re looking for sumac, try a Middle Eastern/Persian food store. A lot of them have it


Bam's Kitchen October 19, 2012 at 4:13 am

These little meatballs look so moist and delicious and love the addition of veggies and zucchini. Love your little place here and looking forward to keeping in touch. Take care, BAM


this is lemonade October 19, 2012 at 6:35 am

This looks like an amazing recipe. I’ve just recently posted a meatball recipe that I thought worked really well, with rice in it. I MUST try this. It looks succulent and good enough to eat even raw! And I love zucchini so it’s just a no-brainer. I don’t cook much with turkey though, haven’t eaten it in ages, but this sounds like something really nice to do with it!
Thanks for sharing! I’ve pinned it! :)


Dana October 19, 2012 at 6:58 am

Zucchini is such a smart idea to put into meatballs! It’ll help keep things nice and moist, and extra veggies never hurt. I wish I had this recipe a few months ago, when we were up to our knees in zucchini.


Jack Tyler October 20, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I love meatballs! I’m loving it since I am just a kid.


Harlan October 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

They look delicious – I think I will purchase the cookbook too!


unikorna November 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Your food art is amazing, I am in love with your cooking style. Lovely photos…really :).


Elle March 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

Made these for dinner last week and they were a complete hit! Everyone went for seconds and agreed they prefer this to any beef meatball they’ve had. Really great flavour and spice, thanks for posting; I’m sure this will become a regular in my kitchen!


Polly October 12, 2013 at 5:31 am

I’m about to make 5 lbs. of these for as an appetizer for a party. I did use ground beef/chuck instead, so crossing my fingers they will be as tasty. I am also wondering how to keep them moist while they sit in a large crockpot on the warm setting for several hours as there is no sauce or liquid. Thoughts?


Adrianna Adarme October 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

Ooof. I’m not sure. I’ve never kept meatballs in a crockpot but I have a feeling that it should steam in there and be ok. Are you serving it with some sort of yogurt sauce? If so, you might be ok!


Polly October 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Turned out great. What I did was add all the juices from baking and frying the meatballs straight into the crockpot plus I deglazed the pans as well and added that to the crockpot too. Everyone looked happy as they ate :)


Lola December 5, 2013 at 6:54 am

I made these and they are fantastic…great a room
temp for a party..I put a piece of grilled pita and a meatball
on a bamboo skewer for a party…wonderful.

It’s really helpful to read where someone has actually made
them instead of countless entries of how good it looks..not helpful.


Carola Votta Fisher October 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Do you have the nutrition info for the zucchini turkey meatballs?


Adrianna Adarme October 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm

No sorry I don’t provide that. But there are plenty of websites that allow you to plug in ingredients.


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