Keftethes (keh-FTEH-thes) are savory Greek meatballs. Like almost every Greek food, they can be made and served in many different ways. Once you master the basic recipe, try one or more of these variations:
- Instead of (or in addition to) beef, try different types of ground meat (lamb or pork are excellent choices)
- Serve with a tomato or egg-lemon sauce
- Add cumin for a distinctly Greek flavor
- Try adding just a little bit of wine or traditional Greek ouzo (licorice liqueur)
Keftethes can be served as an appetizer or -- with a nice feta salad -- can become the main dish of a full meal. Keftethes can be served either hot or cold, and they make a great take-along for a packed lunch or picnic. When served as an appetizer or meze (meh-ZEH), keftethes are often accompanied by tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt dip) and pita bread.
The traditional recipe calls for frying the meatballs, but this baked version is quite good and a bit healthier.
For the tastiest meatballs, prepare the ground meat mixture earlier in the day and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This allows the flavors to really meld.
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 2 onions, finely chopped or grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp. dried mint
- 1-cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp. grated cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Olive oil cooking spray or olive oil for brushing
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with either the cooking spray or brushed on olive oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Roll the meat mixture into balls about the size of a walnut. Place on greased baking sheet about an inch apart.
Bake in 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, turning the meatballs midway through the cooking time.
Allow the meatballs to cool before serving.
Note: If you prefer the traditional frying method, you will need to dredge the rolled meatballs lightly in flour making sure to shake off any excess. Heat olive or vegetable oil and add the meatballs in a single layer. Fry until nicely browned on all sides.