I don't follow a strictly "Mediterranean Diet," but if I ever decide to, it would not be much of a sacrifice. I love all of the flavors and foods associated with that style of eating. And it is no problem for me to make the meat play a supporting role on my plate.
When I saw a recipe for chicken meatloaf that called for feta cheese, fresh mint, leeks, squash and kalamata olives, and suggested serving all of that alongside a Greek salad, I knew I had to try it. And then, of course, tweak it.
I added a bit of Greek yogurt, minced garlic and dried oregano, and turned that meatloaf into meatballs. The feta cheese and yogurt give these meatballs a tangy flavor and keep them moist.
They come together quickly and bake in about 15 minutes, sharing a rimmed baking sheet with the sliced squash, leeks and halved olives.
While the meatballs are in the oven, you have just enough time to whip up a Greek salad of greens, red onion, tomato and, if you like, another little sprinkle of feta in your homemade vinaigrette.
Greek Chicken Meatballs With Squash
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the baking sheet
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped, plus whole leaves serving
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- For the vegetables:
- 3 medium yellow squash, trimmed and sliced a ¼-inch thick
- 1 large leek, trimmed, well-rinsed and thinly sliced
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- For the salad:
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, washed and sliced
- ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus more as needed (optional)
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, feta, yogurt, mint, garlic, oregano, pepper and allspice. Form the mixture into 16 equal-size meatballs, just under 1 ½-ounce each, and place in the center of the prepared baking sheet.
In another large bowl, gently toss together the squash, leek, olives and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until everything is coated. Arrange the vegetables around the meatballs and transfer to the oven. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees.
While the meatballs are cooking, in a large serving bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, feta and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, oregano and mustard. Pour the dressing over the salad, lightly toss to combine, and sprinkle with a few mint leaves. Taste, and season with salt, pepper and more feta, if needed.
To serve, smear a heaping tablespoon of Greek yogurt on the plate and place the meatballs and squash partially on top of the yogurt. Spoon the salad next to the meatballs.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 560 calories, 29 g protein, 42 g fat, 22 g carbohydrate (10 sugar), 122 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.
Adapted from "Chicken!" by the editors of Good Housekeeping (Hearst Books, 2019).