Recipe: Pan-Roasted Lamb Meatballs with Sautéed Greens and Sumac Yogurt Sauce [with video]

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Pan-Roasted Lamb Meatballs with Sautéed Greens and Sumac Yogurt Sauce

An earthy dish with Middle Eastern accents featuring rich lamb meatballs over sautéed broccoli rabe and turnips, finished with a tangy sumac yogurt sauce, pickled red onions, and a scattering of fresh herbs. If your grocery store doesn’t stock sumac (a pleasantly fruity, brick-red spice) or harissa (a fiery hot Tunisian chile paste), you can find them online or at Middle Eastern grocers. Garlic scapes are the shoots that emerge from developing garlic bulbs; if they aren’t in season, you can sauté some chopped garlic along with the broccoli rabe instead. 

Servings: 4 servings
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 3 garlic scapes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • Quick Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)
  • 1-1.5 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tbsp tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 1 tsp teaspoon dill pollen (optional)
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut in half where stems meet the leaves
  • 8 small turnips, preferably ‘Hakurei,’ greens cut off and reserved, leaving 1/2-inch of stem on turnips
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced across the grain
  • Sumac Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)
  • Handful sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • about 4 tbps roughly chopped fresh mint, lemon basil, and dill
  1. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to hot pan followed by the garlic scapes (if using). Sauté until skin starts to blister and turn brown. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

  2. Make pickled onions and set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, combine lamb, paprika, mustard powder, dill pollen (if using), a sprinkle of salt, and about 1 tablespoon oil. Using your hands, form into 8 meatballs. (Do not overwork the meat).

  4. Chop broccoli rabe stems into ½-inch pieces and slice greens crosswise into 1- to 2-inch-wide pieces, keeping stems and greens separate. Cut turnips lengthwise into quarters and reserve. Chop turnip greens crosswise into ½-inch-wide pieces. Return skillet with garlic scapes to stovetop, add broccoli rabe stems, and sauté over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add turnip greens and red onions and sauté for 1½–2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe greens, season with salt and pepper, and sauté another 6–7 minutes, until greens have wilted and onions have softened. Remove from heat.

  5. Make yogurt sauce and set aside.

  6. Preheat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, coat bottom of pan with oil and add meatballs. If you don’t hear a sizzle, your pan is not hot enough. Sauté for 8–10 minutes, turning occasionally, until meatballs are brown on all sides and cooked through. 

  7. Preheat a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add a little oil followed by reserved turnips and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 2–3 minutes or until turnips are lightly browned. Add snap peas to pan and sauté for 1 minute to warm them slightly.

  8. On a platter, make a bed of sautéed greens followed by meatballs and then turnips and snap peas. Drizzle yogurt sauce over the top (or serve it on the side) and sprinkle on three-fourths of the pickled onions (reserving leftovers for Rustic Raw Garden Veggie Salad or another use). Scatter fresh herbs over the top.


Quick Pickled Red Onions
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins

  • .5 large red onion, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, combine onions, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside for about 30 minutes, giving onions a quick stir now and again. Onions will release additional liquid as they marinate.


Sumac Yogurt Sauce
Prep Time
3 mins
Servings: 1 cups
  • 12 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, use a spatula to fold together yogurt, sumac, and harissa paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a squirt bottle or airtight container. Stored in the refrigerator, this sauce will last for a little over a week.

Recipe: Pan-Roasted Lamb Meatballs with Sautéed Greens and Sumac Yogurt Sauce [with video]