Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kafta-style meatball salad with yogurt tahini dressing

Yesterday I was able to leave the office a little earlier than usual so I decided to do something I hate almost as much as filing my papers: buying a bathing suit. A one-piece bathing suit.

Let me recreate the scenario, just so you can cringe a little. Because I know you've been there.
When: beginning of sales.
Where: a department store, Ladies' lingerie & beachwear section.
Who: myself and a million other ladies.

A few notes:
- I live in a country where the average woman is petite and has a good figure
- I live in a country where women often have beautiful olive skin
- I am a pale, freckly blonde
- I live in a country where thongs and Brazilian bikinis reign
- I want the '80's back, when one-piece bathing suits were cool (and when I looked great in a bikini so it didn't matter)
- I have had two children in the past 5 years
- I ain't getting any younger
- My bikini top and bottom are completely different sizes (and no, not in the good way i.e. larger on top, smaller on bottom)
 - No bathing suit looks flattering with your underwear sticking out of it.

A few questions:
- Why is there neon lighting in changing rooms?
- Why are the best mirrors just outside the changing room?
- Why do most changing rooms have flimsy curtains instead of doors?
- Why does the old bag in the changing room next to mine force her embarassed husband to go with her?
- Why does he have to stand right between changing rooms, exactly where the flimsy curtain doesn't reach?
- Why, o why do bathing suits never look as good on my rack as they do on the sales rack?

I actually made it out with two nice one piece bathing suits (I'm telling you, no one buys them anymore) and this time the changing room actually had doors. So I'm not complaining. But after seeing each and every shadow cast on my thighs (where there shouldn't be any shadows) by the neon lighting, I am increasing my running schedule and having more of this for lunch.

As you can see all the way down below, the kids loved it. My son was partial to the yogurt sauce while my daughter devoured at least 15 meatballs. They were also a great help making the meatballs.

Child labor

Kafta recipe loosely adapted from Joumana's.


Kafta (about 60 small meatballs)
2 pounds (about 1kg) ground beef and veal
1 large chopped yellow onion
a large handful of chopped flat parsley
1tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of sumac

Yogurt sauce
200gr Greek yogurt
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lime juice
roasted garlic

Mixed salad greens
olive oil

Chop the onion and put in a sieve with sumac and salt and let drain for at least 20 minutes. In the meantime, chop the parsley and mix the other spices. Drizzle some oil in a pan and fry the onions in it until soft and then put the meat, spices, cooled onions and parsley in a bowl and mix. I do not own a food processor or I would have followed Joumana's tip on this for the unique texture.
Heat the oven to 400F/200°C. Line a baking tray and make small meatballs. Bake until the meat is cooked and it starts browning. While the meatballs are baking, assemble your sauce. Mix the yogurt with a tablespoon of tahini, a good sprinkle of dry roasted garlic (or fresh roasted garlic smashed with a fork would be even better), the lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. Add some water if the dressing is too thick. When you pull the meatballs out of the oven, sprinkle with some salt and lime juice.
Chop up some tomatoes on individual plates with some mixed salad greens, after lightly dressing them with olive oil and a touch of salt. When the meatballs have cooled, add them on top of the salad and drizzle with the yogurt tahini dressing.

I read this post today, and it made me think about how priviledged I am to spend this carefree time with my kids, cooking with my them and taking cute pictures of their yogurt-covered faces. I am thankful every day for what I have and hope to help those who aren't as fortunate in my own very small way by posting this link.  


  1. Mi piacerebbe moltissimo rifare questa ricetta, visto che ai due le polpette piacciono parecchio, ma non ho trovato una traduzione per "sumac" di che spezia parliamo? "Lucida" noi comuni mortali......
    un bacione Barbs
    P.S. Le foto del piccolo che "sbarlecca" la ciotola sono IMPAGABILI!!!!!!

  2. Mmmmm..yum. Can't go wrong with meatballs! These look fantastic. I love the pics of the kids too - so cute!

  3. I AM CRYING!!! This is so spot on I felt like I was there in that dressing room with you!!! LOL! Just yesterday I was flipping through Victoria's Secret SUMMER SALE catalog and couldn't get over how skimpy they all were! I think there was ONE page that had only two, one pieces on it! I UNDERSTAND...I SOOOO TOTALLY UNDERSTAND!!

    Great meatball salad and dressing! Sounds great!!!

  4. I end up never buying bikinis over here on the other side of the ocean, because I feel most of them are way too big and padded on the top part... I don't want an armor, I want a bikini!!!

    Those meatballs look awesome! Koftas are soo good, is sumac the secret to good koftas??

  5. Mmmm sumac! it's been years since I've had it, thanks for reminding me! bathing suit shopping is horrific, and I also hate jean shopping. it's the darn mirrors! I can't wait to get out of my temporary furnished apartment, and cook with my own kitchen stuff again!

  6. Ack! I feel your pain!! A lot of people think that buying jeans is hell but then swimsuit buying is a whole different sort of hell altogether :P as for these meatballs and your pics of your littlies, just heaven!

  7. Buying bathing suit is probably the most stress-inducing chore for 75% of women, which is why I am glad the last few years has seen the emergence of these lines of bathing suits that claim to reduce one's size by at least an inch, the "miracle-suits". I guess they don't have them in Italy? Bummer.
    Well, at least you found something!
    These kaftas look great and glad the kids "helped"~

  8. Barbs - ciao cara! Si tratta del sommacco, non che questo sia di grande aiuto probabilmente. Se non erro, trattasi di una bacca essicata e poi macinata con un sapore acidulo. Probabilmente la trovi nei negozi mediorentali o online. Io l'ho comprata a NY. Al ragazzo la salsa yogurt è piaciuta parecchio!
    Divya - hi! thanks, I couldn't help it. The little guy was too funny with that bowl.
    Care's kitchen - that is the first one-piece I have bought in ages but with all the running around I do these days on the beach and little bodies clinging to me I am afraid that everything will fall out, now that it is not as firm anymore hehe
    Pola - that is exactly what I mean. You Italian girls have such great figures you probably only need the flimsiest of bikinis to keep you covered (although we will rediscuss post children, hehe). About the sumac, Joumana is certainly more of an authority than I am!
    Nicole - don't even get me started on the jeans!
    Lorraine - at least when buying jeans (as bad as it is) your flesh is not totally exposed to the neon lights.
    ToB - thanks for the inspiration. Miracle suits?? Gotta get me one!

  9. oh god wat a delish salad..

    totally jazzed it up with teh Kafta


  10. Hahahaha I am soooo glad I don't have to shop in Milan anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, I HAD to say that. I feel more "normal" here where you find all sorts of sizes in the shops... 2 kids in 2.5 years leave their mark/s, I know!!! ;-) I love the pics of your kids, they are sooo cute!!! <3

  11. The joys of shopping for swimwear you made me smile today, great description.

  12. Dolly - the kafta really was delicious
    Manu - Don't be, I totally agree...and I didn't even mention how bitchy salespeople can be here. I imagine shopping Down Under is sort of like shopping in the States.
    Lindy - :o)

  13. Yes, lighting in changing room has convinced me out of buying more than one dress. They just make you look awful. I wonder why no marketing genius has thought about it yet? Anyway, I am more than ready to recover from the shock with some koftas.

  14. Sweetie, I feel your bathing suit pain! Add to that the occasional store that still has a communal dressing room! Meatballs look totally delish!

  15. Your children are absolutely adorable! This sounds like an amazing salad - and I'm sure you look amazing in your bathing suit!

  16. Looks like this dish is perfect for people with tiny hands!

    (And bless you for facing the bathing-suit nightmare. I hope your struggles are rewarded with many hours of lounging pool- or seaside in the sun in the thing.)

  17. Caffettiera Rosa - True, there must be a better lighting solution. Maybe you are on to something...
    Andrea - Communal dressing room?? Luckily I have never encountered one of those and don't think I would ever buy anything in that store that I would have to try on.
    Peggy - I've looked worse in a bathing suit, but I've also looked better hehe
    Meister - it is perfect to make with tiny hands hehe. I hope to be rewarded by a few hours in the sun this weekend (but with wee ones, no lounging unfortunately...another reason for a one piece bathign suit, they just cling to you like mussels and pull at every string)

  18. These look delicious.
    And, as for swimsuit shopping---do it catalog/online. You can read the reviews. That's how I found the one that I have that I like a lot. All the reviewers were complaining that the torso was so short--which is just what I was looking for! Glad that you were able to find something in the store!


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