chicken + beef koftas with spinach, pomegranate, dill + cilantro salad

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I love my friend Sarah, really love her. We met while working in book publishing, and bonded over the fact that our offices bookended an editor who believed life was lived by yelling on volume 10. We were bookish, slightly acerbic, women about to publish memoirs, and what started as chit chat amongst office mates turned into a seven-year friendship. Sarah is my people, and we’ll spend horrors watching 70s horror movies, dissecting yoga poses (she’s an ashtanga teacher), and talking about books in the way that writers love to talk about books–obsessively. We’re often oddly in the same orbit; we occupy one other’s headspace, and even today, right as I was about to tell her I discovered Sarah Wilson’s blog, she tells me about a granola she made, and pulls Sarah’s book off her shelf. We laugh as we normally do, and talk about everything and anything over brewed tea.

Your home smells like a yoga studio, I say, distracted by the rows of books on her shelves, a carefully-cultivated collection she and her book agent husband have amassed. And by way of entry, she hands me a mug, gives me a hug and I want to stand there and hold her longer.

Today we talked about a lot of things, in particular, the shape of this blog. It recently occurred to me that I’ve spent so much time creating a beautiful space that I rarely get to enjoy. Over the past few months, I’ve scanned my cookbooks and bake things based on what I have on hand, rather than immersing myself in books as a means to get inspired, to create. There is a difference between the two. It’s like listening only to wait for your turn to speak versus leaning in, breathing, allowing your friend to finish their sentences. I want this space to reflect the things that excite me–albeit a book, recipe, or pretty bauble on my wrist.

To that end, I’ve resolved to not post every day. I’ll post a few times a week, and only with recipes with which I’ve fallen in love. Only when I’m inspired. Only when I’ve got something real to say instead of filling a space with a pretty picture.

I ADORE JANE COXWELL, not only as a person (I’m privileged to know her in real life), but as an arbiter of taste. I admire the way in which she’s able to create a symphony with the recipes she creates. I found this chicken and beef koftas (consider them Middle Eastern meatballs), and was smitten by how much flavor they pack and how they’re slightly more virtuous than their Italian pork, beef and veal counterpart. I fixed the koftas over a simple herbed green salad, and can I say that I am excited to be COOKING WITH DILL?

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Jane Coxwell’s Fresh Happy Tasty (one of THE best cookbooks I own)
For the chicken + beef koftas: Serves 4
1/2 lb organic ground beef
1/2 lb organic ground free-range chicken
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp chopped red onions (I opted to use one large shallot)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 egg yolk
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 oz crumbled feta cheese (I nixed this as I’m going dairy-free)
2 tbsp safflower or grapeseed oil

For the Spinach, Pomegranate, Dill + Cilantro Chopped Salad: Serves 2
2 handfuls of spinach leaves
1 large handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1 handful of fresh dill leaves
1 garlic clove
Agave nectar (I nixed this)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Maldon salt/Fresh black pepper

For the chicken + beef koftas: Put the beef, chicken, cumin, coriander, cilantro, lemon zest, onion, and garlic in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Add the egg yolk, a couple of good pinches of salt/pepper to taste and mix again. Add the feta (if using) and gently mix again. Wrap the mixture in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ten minutes to up two hours.

Pre-heat an oven to 350F.

Remove the meat from the fridge and form into small meatballs. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the pan is very hot. Working in batches if necessary (I worked in two batches as I got 12 meatballs out of my batch), add the meatballs to the hot pan and cook on all sides for about 3 minutes total. Ensure they’re brown on all sides. Remove the koftas from the pan and place in a sheet of aluminum foil to form a small parcel. Pop them in the oven for another five minutes to finish them off. Serve hot over the delicious salad!

For the salad: Put the greens and garlic on a cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl. Add agave to taste (I’d venture you’d need 1/2 tsp), the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds. Season with salt + pepper. Give it a toss with your hands and serve it with the meatballs.

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