When life or more specifically your weekly produce box, hands you beets pair them with Minty Lamb Meatballs and serve them on a bed of Whipped Feta. I know, far less quippy than the whole lemon to lemonade saying. I’m fairly certain they won’t be words to live by anytime soon. But these Minty Lamb Meatballs with their various accouterments could very well be gracing your table imminently. This is such a fabulous low key meal. Serving companions range from a variety of simple salads to the extremely chill bag of storebought pita. Like a little black dress, you can dress this meal up or down. And even if you’re full sloth come suppertime and add nothing to it, this platter still comes across as effortlessly elegant even if you’re far from it.
Summertime cooking is supposed to be easy. In fact, the cooking in “summertime cooking” should be silent in that it should be close to nonexistent. Take it from someone who lived without air conditioning for the better part of a decade, preheating an oven is not a summertime activity. But sometimes there just isn’t a way around it.
There are a lot of summertime classics that make use of an oven. Strawberry shortcake for instance or peach cobbler. And in my case, it’s a surplus of beets. Lots and lots of beets. And there isn’t much you can do with a beet without roasting it first. But before I get into that, you might be wondering how I found myself in this beet predicament.
Well, back in the early days of COVID, I realized my summertime farmer’s market trips were in jeopardy. And once my own self-centeredness subsided, I realized more than my enjoyment was at stake. Most small farmers rely on earth mama millennials such as myself to buy their wares at said farmer’s market. And as any obnoxious, lightly-hippied millennial would, I genuinely care about local growers and would love to give you a pamphlet on the subject. But all kidding aside, I was worried about the small scale farmers, so I started looking into getting a produce box and found my favorite farmer’s market was putting one together. So I signed up.
Now, when I signed up, I was confident I would love everything in the box and would genuinely enjoy the surprise. Well, in reality, I was half right. I did and do enjoy the surprise every week. But I didn’t anticipate the sunchokes and the beets. Apparently, there are particular pieces of produce I’m not super into.
The sunchokes were unfortunately a no-go for me. I don’t like them but if you disagree please feel free to contradict me in the comments below. Perhaps I haven’t found the proper way to enjoy them? But the beets occupy a far more ambiguous space for me. I don’t love beets but I also don’t hate them. For me, beets are a companion piece. They’re far too sweet to be consumed in isolation. But beets are an excellent source of balance when paired with more assertive flavors, like lamb, mint, and feta. Essentially, my beet-related words of wisdom boil down to this – beets need salt. And in my case, a lot of salt.
While this platter certainly plays well with a glass of chilled wine, it is not an entirely summer-friendly dish. You do have to roast those beets and that can be a 40 minute, 400°F affair. You could put them on the BBQ too, but if you have a charcoal grill, like me, you’ll have to keep it running fairly hot for a while – not always an easy feat. The nice thing about beets is you don’t have to check on them a ton, so you can shove them in the oven and head outside and stand under the sprinkler for the duration. And if you think I’m joking about the sprinkler part, you don’t know me.
The good news is after you get those beets nice and tender, you only need to saute or grill the meatballs and that’s it for cooking. Whipping feta is a chill affair in more ways than one. Just pop the cheese in the food processor, add a little olive oil and fold in some yogurt. No heating required.
What happens next is up to you. Maybe you serve this as an appetizer before heading into a more elaborate main course. Maybe you pair it with a host of freshly chopped vegetables and salad. Or maybe you rip a bag of pita chips open with your teeth and plunk a bottle of wine on the table. There ain’t no shame in your summer dinner game. Honestly, it’s far too hot to put on airs.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Minty Lamb Meatballs with Roasted Beets & Whipped Feta. Honestly, this dish makes for such great patio food. And while it is simple and low key to make, this platter will keep you feeling elegant even if your mascara has melted halfway down your face.
Minty Lamb Meatballs with Roasted Beets and Whipped Feta
- 454g (1 lb) small mixed beets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 285g (10oz) feta cheese coarsely crumbled
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
Minty Lamb Meatballs
- 228g (8oz) ground lamb
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fresh mint finely chopped
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes
- 1 tsp honey
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Minty Lamb Meatballs with Roasted Beets & Whipped Feta
- 1 batch Whipped Feta see above
- 1 batch Roasted Beets see above
- 1 batch Minty Lamb Meatballs see above
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves tightly packed
For the Beets
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Scrub and halve the beets. Drizzle a baking sheet with half of the olive oil. Use a pastry to evenly distribute the oil. Arrange the beet halves on the baking sheet cut-side-down. Drizzle the beets with the remaining oil and sprinkle the salt over top.
- Transfer the beets to the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Flip the beets and roast for another 15 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Take the beets out of the oven and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and halve once more. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the Feta
- Place the feta in a large food processor and blitz until the cheese takes on the consistency of a coarse powder. Turn on the food processor and slowly stream in the oil. Blitz until the cheese takes on a thick, spreadable consistency.
- Transfer the cheese to a bowl and add the yogurt and garlic. Fold the ingredients into the feta until well-integrated. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. If you decide to transfer the feta to the fridge, be sure to set it out on the counter for at least 10 minutes prior to serving to soften and become spreadable again.
For the Meatballs
- Place all the ingredients, with the exception of the oil, in a bowl and, using a clean hand, mix together until all the ingredients are thoroughly integrated.
- Using a tablespoon as a guide, measure out and form anywhere from 11-14 meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the meatballs. Sear the meatballs on all sides, then reduce the heat and cook the meatballs covered for 5-7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Spread the Whipped Feta in an even layer on a large platter. Top with the roasted beets and meatballs. Finish the dish with the tomatoes and fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately with farro, pita, and/or mixed greens.