tangy sumac yogurt sauce, pickled red onions, and a scattering of fresh herbs

Pan-Roasted Lamb Meatballs with Sautéed Greens and a Sumac Yogurt Sauce

  • Author: Foodterra
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4 1x


An earthy dish with Middle Eastern accents featuring rich pan-roasted lamb meatballs over sautéed broccoli rabe and turnips, finished with a tangy sumac yogurt sauce, pickled red onions, and a scattering of fresh herbs.



  • 11.5 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon dill pollen (optional)
  • 3 garlic scapes, cut into inch and half batons
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut in half separating the stems from the leaves
  • 8 Hakurei turnips, greens removed and reserved, leaving 1/2-inch of stem on turnips, cut turnips lengthwise into quarters
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, reserve other half for pickled onions
  • handful sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • about 45tablespoons fresh mint, lemon basil, and dill, roughly chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, season as you go
  • olive oil, as needed

For the sumac yogurt sauce

  • 12 ouncesplain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Quick Pickled Onions

  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly ground pepper



  1. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to hot pan followed by the garlic scapes. Sauté until skin starts to blister and turn brown. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  2. Pickled onions: In a medium bowl, combine onions, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside for about 30 minutes, giving onions a quick stir now and again. Onions will release additional liquid as they marinate.
  3. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine lamb, paprika, mustard powder, dill pollen (if using), a sprinkle of salt, and about 1 tablespoon oil. Using your hands, form into 8 meatballs. Carful not to overwork the meat.
  4. Sauté greens: Chop broccoli rabe stems into ½-inch pieces and slice greens crosswise into 1- to 2-inch-wide pieces, keeping stems and greens separate. Chop turnip greens crosswise into ½-inch-wide pieces. Return skillet with garlic scapes to stovetop, add broccoli rabe stems, and sauté over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add turnip greens and red onions and sauté for 1½–2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe greens, season with salt and pepper, and sauté another 6–7 minutes, until greens have wilted and onions have softened. Remove from heat.
  5. Sumac yogurt sauce: In a medium bowl, use a spatula to fold together yogurt, sumac, and harissa paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a squirt bottle or airtight container.
  6. Cook meatballs: Preheat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, coat bottom of pan with oil and add meatballs. If you don’t hear a sizzle, your pan is not hot enough. Sauté for 8–10 minutes, turning occasionally, until meatballs are brown on all sides and cooked through.
  7. Preheat a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add a little oil followed by turnips and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 2–3 minutes or until turnips are lightly browned. Add snap peas to pan and sauté for 1 minute to warm them slightly.
  8. Plate the dish: Make a bed of sautéed greens followed by meatballs and then turnips and snap peas. Drizzle yogurt sauce over the top (or serve it on the side) and sprinkle on three-fourths of the pickled onions (reserving leftovers for Rustic Raw Garden Veggie Salad or another use). Scatter fresh herbs over the top.


  • Garlic scapes are the shoots that emerge from developing garlic bulbs; if they aren’t in season, you can sauté some chopped garlic along with the broccoli rabe instead.
  • Sumac yogurt sauce, stored in the refrigerator, this sauce will last for a little over a week.
  • If your grocery store doesn’t stock sumac (a pleasantly fruity, brick-red spice) or harissa (a fiery hot Tunisian chile paste), you can find them online or at a specialty grocers.
  • Category: entrée
  • Method: roast, sauté

Keywords: meatballs, lamb meatballs, yogurt sauce