Lamb Meatballs with Cucumbers and Herbs

Lamb Meatballs with Cucumbers & Herbs
Photo: Linda Pugliese
2 to 4 Serves

Flecked with coriander, cinnamon, and cumin, lamb meatballs rest on a bed of dill, parsley, and mint in this composed salad that takes cues from Middle Eastern cuisine. Serve them with a swipe of labneh and quick-pickled red onions and golden raisins—and enjoy the culinary journey. This recipe is featured in the cookbook Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession ($26.99,


  • ½ small red onion, very thinly sliced

  • cup golden raisins

  • ¼ cup red-wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, plus more for serving

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Kosher salt (we use Diamond Crystal) and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound ground lamb

  • ½ bunch fresh parsley

  • 1 bunch fresh mint

  • 1 bunch fresh dill

  • ½ cup plain (or fresh) breadcrumbs

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 6 Persian cucumbers, halved and thinly sliced on the bias

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup labneh, or sheep's-milk or Greek-style yogurt

  • 1 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine onion, raisins, and vinegar and let soak, tossing every now and then so everything gets vinegary. Put coriander and cumin seeds in a skillet and cook over medium heat, shaking skillet around a lot quite vigorously to move them around. When they start to smell fragrant and toasty, after a minute or two, transfer to a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or cutting board. Crush them up just a bit and transfer to a large bowl.

  2. Add Aleppo pepper, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and ground lamb to bowl with spices. Chop leaves from parsley and half of mint and dill; add to bowl. Add breadcrumbs and egg and grate in 1 clove garlic; use your hands to mix and combine. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Divide mixture into 12 balls and put on sheet.

  3. Bake 12 to 15 minutes for medium (about 145°F on an instant-read thermometer). Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine cucumbers, pickled-onion mixture, and 1 handful each parsley and mint leaves. Season with salt and black pepper and drizzle with a little oil.

  4. Put labneh in another bowl; grate in remaining 1 clove garlic and zest of lemon. Season with Aleppo pepper and salt. Swoop mixture onto your serving plate or platter with the back of a spoon. Top with salad and meatballs. Cut zested lemon into wedges and serve alongside.

Cook's Notes

Excerpted from the new book Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession ($26.99,, by Jess Damuck, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 by Jess Damuck. Photography by Linda Pugliese.

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