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Lamb Meatballs with Kale, Cumin Yogurt, and Carolina Gold Rice

Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr
Hands-on time 25 mins
Total time 48 mins
Yield Serves 4
Lamb meatballs appear in various forms across the Middle East, but the beauty of our foodways in the Southern U.S. is that we have great lamb from people like Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm in Virginia, great farms producing amazing local and organic kale, wonderful dairies for yogurt, and a burgeoning staple crop in the return of rice to our agrarian landscape. Handle the meatballs gently, and form them with as little handling as possible. This will keep them tender.


  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 12 ounces lean ground lamb
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups chopped Red Russian kale or other kale
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups hot cooked Carolina Gold rice
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

Nutrition Information

  • calories 448
  • fat 23.4 g
  • satfat 6.6 g
  • monofat 11.2 g
  • polyfat 3.5 g
  • protein 22.9 g
  • carbohydrate 36.4 g
  • fiber 2.5 g
  • cholesterol 104 mg
  • iron 4.1 mg
  • sodium 508 mg
  • calcium 154 mg

How to Make It

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small cast-iron pan over medium heat; cook 5 minutes until toasted and just beginning to smoke, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Place spice mixture and chili powder in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground.

  2. Return pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool completely.

  3. Combine spice mixture, onion mixture, breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lamb, and egg in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meatballs; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan; drain well. Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel. Return meatballs to pan. Add kale, stock, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

  4. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, and ground cumin in a small bowl. Spread 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture in bottom of each of 4 shallow bowls. Top with 1/2 cup rice and 1 cup lamb mixture. Sprinkle evenly with pine nuts and mint.