Light Cucumber-Feta Grain Salad with Greek Turkey Meatballs

There’s something about Greek food that feels so natural in the summer. Maybe it’s my own subconscious connection with Greece to warmer weather to begin with, or maybe it’s just that the food always tastes so light and fresh. I’m not one of those people who finds that my appetite is diminished in the heat, but I’m also not so crazy that I don’t still crave lighter fare most of the time. So, although it requires striking up your stove top (or, perhaps, your grill, though I recently explained how that is not at all my area of expertise), this Greek Cucumber-Feta Grain Salad with Light Turkey Meatballs is worth it.

I say “grain salad” because I used quinoa, but imagine that something like couscous or farro might be a more ethnically appropriate grain to use. The original doesn’t even call for a grain, but I found the addition of the quinoa to be excellent in soaking up some of the intense dressing flavor while making for a slightly more filling dinner than just meatballs and cucumber on their own. All in all, I will definitely be making this again, and encourage you to try it out sometime this summer, too.

Cucumber-Feta Grain Salad with Greek Meatballs, adapted from Closet Cooking
Yield: 4 servings

The Ingredients
1 pound ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon lemon zest, divided
1/4 cup plus 3 ½-4  tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon oregano
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped dill chopped

The Method
Mix the garlic, half the lemon juice and zest, ¼ cup olive oil, oregano, and black pepper into the ground turkey and allow the mixture to marinate at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa according to package instructions* and set aside to cool.

Heat ½-1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Shape the turkey mixture into meatballs slightly larger than a golf ball, maybe 2 inches in diameter. Place the meatballs into the pan and cook about 5 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, cucumber, feta, dill, olive oil, and the remaining lemon juice and zest and serve alongside the meatballs.

*Generally, this involves a 2:1 water:quinoa ratio simmered for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until the little ring pops away from the seed and the water has been absorbed.


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