This time of year, tender herbs grow like weeds in gardens and come cheap in markets. The only downside is needing to use them up before the plants go to seed or before grocery store bunches go slimy. The most obvious options are pesto and tabbouleh, but meatballs are my favorite way to finish off my herbs.
Not only do leafy herbs add a bright freshness to smoky grilled meatballs, but they also lighten the texture. A generous bunch of green onions do the same, as do oats. This gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs brings a subtle sweetness to the meat mix.
Inspired by the kebabs and keftes of the Middle East, these meatballs include aromatic spices and a dip. While savory yogurt sauces are the classic pairing — and would taste great here — puréed avocado delivers a similar creamy coolness without any dairy. Blending in lots of herbs and lemon juice gives it enough nuance and flavor to work as a dip for anything else, such as chips or crudités.
The meatball recipe below can be varied according to your taste and whatever you have on hand. Keep the proportions the same, but use any tender leafy herbs. You can toss in some heartier herbs too; a teaspoon of minced thyme or rosemary would be nice.
As for the spices, cumin and coriander are solid starting points, but allspice or mace would work, too. And if you love spicy foods, stir some chile flakes right into the meatball mix and serve the meatballs with hot sauce. Recipe, T2.