How often do you make the same dish, over and over and over?
I have phases where I'll make the same favourite dish every week... until I get sick of it, or something else takes the mantle of 'most wanted'. I've made this lamb kebab/kofta three times in three months, so I'm not yet weary of it. It does take a bit of effort in pre-cooking the lamb and the zucchini, but this can be done beforehand, with the dish assembled, ready for the oven just before you want to serve it. And don't forget the amazing red sauce - the hint of chilli flakes in the sweet tomato sauce will have you coming back for more.
Just a note on terminology: I call them 'zucchinis', but the recipe (which is by UK-based Yotam Ottolenghi) refers to them as 'courgettes'. I'd also refer to the lamb balls as 'koftas' rather than 'kebabs', but I thought I'd follow the recipe. Heck, who am I kidding? This isn't some Nobel Prize essay - just call them scrumptious.
Courgette-wrapped lamb kebabs
2 tblsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
50g stale white bread, crusts removed
300g minced lamb
55g feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
15g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
light olive oil, for frying
2 medium courgettes (zucchini)
2 tblsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g Italian tinned tomatoes, crushed
pinch dried chilli flakes
1 tsp basil leaves, chopped
1. For the sauce: Place the oil and crushed garlic in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and chilli flakes and season with salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
2. For the kebabs: Soak the bread in cold water for 2 minutes, then drain and squeeze to remove most of the water. Crumble the bread into a large mixing bowl and add the lamb, crumbled feta, pine nuts, spices, garlic, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients with your hands until well combined, but do not overmix. Shape into 12 fat, cigar-shaped balls.
3. Pour 5mm (1/4") depth of olive oil into a large frying pan and shallow-fry the kebabs for 1 minute on each side until they are browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on a baking tray.
4. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
5. For the courgettes: Slice off both ends and then cut long, thin slices down the length of each courgette. You'll need about 12 slices (the same number as there are kebabs). Brush each slice with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place a chargrill pan over high heat. When heated, lay the courgette slices in the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until grill marks appear. Remove to a tray to cool.
6. Wrap each kebab finger in a slice of courgette and arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.
7. To serve, bring the sauce back to the boil, add the basil and stir through. Arrange the kebabs on serving plates and spoon over the sauce.
recipe adapted from Ottolenghi the cookbook
Ingredients, including tomatoes and garlic (for the sauce), and feta, egg, spices, pine nuts and lamb (for the kebabs)
The zucchini are chargrilled before wrapping around the pan-fried lamb kebabs.
Keep away from curious Tabitha cats.
The kebabs are beautiful when served with the sauce on top
And the sauce is also fantastic on its own, with pasta