Over the weekend, we had a few friends over to jump in the pool and fire up the barbecue, and all of a sudden I remembered why May is my favorite month of the year. There’s something so thrilling about an entire summer stretching ahead, with Memorial Day cookouts and lazy days by the pool on the horizon. With these long weekend get-togethers in mind, I’ve been experimenting with some interesting twists on more classic barbecue menus, like these turkey koftas that blend Middle Eastern inspiration with Argentinian flavors. Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with turkey. While I love how lean and protein rich it is, I’ve also had one too many turkey dishes that taste downright bland. So when coming up with this recipe, I decided to pack it full of as many flavor boosters as possible, including garlic, lemon and loads of herbs. The final result is a total crowd-pleaser (just ask any of my taste-testers at the office), and paired with this summer herb-packed chimichurri sauce, it becomes seriously party-worthy. Speaking of the chimichurri, it comes together in under 5 minutes, and is the perfect condiment for just about any grilled meat that goes on your grill all summer long. Keep reading for the recipe and more photos by Buff Strickland.
Turkey Koftas with Zucchini Ribbons & Chimichurri
*makes 8 – 10 skewers
for the koftas:
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 egg yolk
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons on a mandoline
for the chimichurri:
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- squeeze of lemon juice
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, garlic, zest, herbs and shallot. Use your hands to combine, then add the egg yolk, a big pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix just until everything is combined, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up 24 hours. Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the chimichurri: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil and agave. Add remaining ingredients, whisk to combine, and let stand at room temperature for about an hour (or refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
- Preheat the oven to 400. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat, and remove the meat from the fridge. Pinching off about 2 tablespoonfuls at a time, roll into meatballs. Thread the meatballs onto the bamboo skewers, alternating with zucchini ribbons that have been accordian-folded into thirds. For each skewer, I use 2 zucchini ribbons, and 2 – 3 meatballs.
- Brush the grill with oil, then cook the skewers until browned, flipping once (about 2 minutes per side.) Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, then bake in the oven for 5 minutes to cook through.
- Remove from the oven, and serve the koftas with the chimichurri sauce.
*photos by Buff Strickland.