Keftethes (keh-FTEH-thes) are savory Greek meatballs. Keftethes can be served as an appetizer or, when paired with a nice feta salad, can become the main dish. 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.
For the tastiest meatballs, prepare the ground meat mixture earlier in the day and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This allows the flavors to really meld. The traditional recipe calls for frying the meatballs, but this baked version is quite good and a bit healthier.
- Olive oil (or cooking spray) for greasing baking sheet
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 onions, finely chopped or grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Garnish: salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with either olive oil or cooking spray.
- 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 1 hour.
- Roll the meat mixture into balls about the size of a walnut. Place on the greased baking sheet about an inch apart.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the meatballs midway through the cooking time.
- Allow the meatballs to cool before serving.
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.
Like almost every Greek food, keftethes 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, such as lamb or pork, which are excellent choices.
- Serve with a tomato sauce or a creamy egg-lemon sauce called avgolemono.
- Add Greek oregano or cumin to the meat mixture for a distinctly Greek flavor.
- Try adding just a little bit of wine or traditional Greek ouzo (licorice liqueur) to the recipe for a unique taste.