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Don’t roll your vegetarian ‘meatballs’! Smash them for better flavor

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Don’t roll your vegetarian ‘meatballs’! Smash them for better flavor
ENT

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Don’t roll your vegetarian ‘meatballs’! Smash them for better flavor

2024-04-22 20:24 Last Updated At:04-23 00:41

Keftedes are Greek meatballs, sometimes made with a mixture of chickpeas and sardines. For our vegetarian version, we substitute the sardines with feta cheese, which gives the keftedes a deeply savory note while keeping them meat-free. Based on the chickpea and sardine keftedes from “Smashing Plates” by London chef Maria Elia, this version is just as flavorful. In this recipe from “Tuesday Nights Mediterranean,” which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we flatten portions of the chickpea mixture into patties directly in the skillet, instead of shaping them into balls. This creates more surface area for browning and speeds the cooking. To begin, we whisk an egg with paprika, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper, then add the chickpeas, mashing them with a potato masher until they are broken down but not completely smooth. Feta and herbs are mixed in, and the mixture is shaped into balls and transferred to the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes, which helps them hold together in the skillet. Once smashed into a nonstick skillet, let the delicate keftedes cook undisturbed until they form a golden brown crust, and flip them only once. These chickpea patties are great with a simple salad, or tuck them into pita with vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, cucumber and radishes. Serve with yogurt-tahini sauce and lemon wedges.

CHICKPEA AND FETA KEFTEDES

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This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

Keftedes are Greek meatballs, sometimes made with a mixture of chickpeas and sardines. For our vegetarian version, we substitute the sardines with feta cheese, which gives the keftedes a deeply savory note while keeping them meat-free. Based on the chickpea and sardine keftedes from “Smashing Plates” by London chef Maria Elia, this version is just as flavorful. In this recipe from “Tuesday Nights Mediterranean,” which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we flatten portions of the chickpea mixture into patties directly in the skillet, instead of shaping them into balls. This creates more surface area for browning and speeds the cooking. To begin, we whisk an egg with paprika, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper, then add the chickpeas, mashing them with a potato masher until they are broken down but not completely smooth. Feta and herbs are mixed in, and the mixture is shaped into balls and transferred to the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes, which helps them hold together in the skillet. Once smashed into a nonstick skillet, let the delicate keftedes cook undisturbed until they form a golden brown crust, and flip them only once. These chickpea patties are great with a simple salad, or tuck them into pita with vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, cucumber and radishes. Serve with yogurt-tahini sauce and lemon wedges.

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

Start to finish: 45 minutes Servings: 4 ½ cup whole-milk plain yogurt

¼ cup tahini

6 teaspoons lemon juice, divided, plus lemon wedges to serve

1½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 large egg

1½ teaspoons sweet paprika

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Two 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

½ cup finely chopped fresh mint, flat-leaf parsley or a combination, plus whole or torn leaves to serve

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, tahini, 4 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Transfer ⅓ cup of the mixture to a large bowl. Into the remaining yogurt mixture, stir the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside for serving. To the large bowl, add the egg, paprika, cinnamon, the remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, ¾ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, then whisk to combine. Add the chickpeas and mash with a potato masher until broken down but not completely smooth. Add the feta and herb(s), then mix well. Form into 12 evenly sized balls (each about a scant ¼ cup); place on a plate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add 6 of the balls, spacing them evenly apart (return the remainder to the refrigerator), then flatten each with a metal spatula into a 2- to 2½-inch patty. Cook until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, gently flipping them once. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining oil and patties. Top the keftedes with whole or torn herb(s) and serve with the yogurt-tahini sauce and lemon wedges. EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for chickpea and feta meatballs. (Milk Street via AP)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rep. Thomas Massie’s role in the failed bid to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson didn’t harm his standing with Republican voters in his Kentucky district, where he easily won his primary election on Tuesday in the conservative stronghold.

Massie far outdistanced challengers Eric Deters and Michael McGinnis to maintain his hold on the seat representing the 4th District, which stretches across northern Kentucky. With no Democratic opponent in the fall, Massie’s primary victory cleared his way to claim another term in November.

The libertarian-leaning congressman said his victory amounted to a “referendum on thousands of independent votes I have cast in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Kentucky’s 4th District.”

“I want to thank the voters for trusting me to represent them again, and I look forward to continuing our fight for personal liberty, economic freedom, fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government,” Massie said in a statement.

Elsewhere, the dean of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, Republican Rep. Hal Rogers, easily defeated three challengers in the 5th District covering eastern and parts of southern Kentucky. No Democrat is running for the seat. Rogers is a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which positions him to steer federal money back to his Appalachian district.

Rep. Morgan McGarvey, the state’s only Democratic congressman, coasted to victory over two opponents in the Louisville-area 3rd District. In November, he'll be challenged by Republican Mike Craven, who won his primary in the Democratic-leaning district.

Republican Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, will be opposed by Democrat Erin Marshall after both were unopposed in the 1st District primary. The Bluegrass State’s other congressmen — Republicans Brett Guthrie and Andy Barr — were unopposed in the primary.

Massie’s congressional race drew attention for his reputation of defying his party’s leaders — from then-President Donald Trump to the House speaker — without being punished by his constituents.

Massie aligned with fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in the recent attempt to remove Johnson from his post as speaker. Massie co-sponsored Greene’s ouster resolution, which was overwhelmingly rejected by their colleagues.

Before the primary, Massie sounded unconcerned about any blowback from voters for trying to remove the speaker — nicknamed “MAGA Mike Johnson” by Trump. The former president remains enormously popular in the district.

“It’s a lot of inside baseball and ultimately, because he’s still the speaker, I think a lot of people don’t care,” Massie said last week.

Four years ago, Massie drew Trump’s wrath when the congressman singlehandedly caused a delay in passing a massive COVID-19 relief package. Trump called the Kentuckian a “third rate Grandstander.”

An unapologetic Massie said he tried to hold up what he considered to be an unconstitutional vote for a wasteful bill. Massie deflected Trump’s jabs by joking he was at least “second rate” as a grandstander.

Despite the presidential smackdown, Massie cruised to reelection that year. Two years later, Massie picked up the former president’s endorsement on his way to another reelection victory.

“They still appreciate somebody who will come up here and vote the way he believes is best, even if it’s at odds with Trump sometimes,” Massie said of his constituents. “So that’s sort of my brand at this point.”

In another twist, Massie supported Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ failed bid for the White House, again risking Trump’s anger. The ex-president didn’t give an endorsement in Massie’s primary race this year.

Massie's challengers included Deters, a former gubernatorial candidate who played up his steadfast support for Trump and portrayed Massie as a “goofball” lacking accomplishments in Congress.

Since joining Congress in late 2012, Massie has been known as an avid deficit hawk and staunch gun-rights supporter. In a recent post on the social platform X, Massie wrote: “America is on a path that won’t end well. We are borrowing money at an unsustainable rate, accumulating enemies through endless war, and eroding rights like free speech & privacy.”

Kentucky’s most contentious campaign in the fall is likely to be over a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow taxpayer money to flow to private or charter schools. If it is ratified by voters, state lawmakers could then decide whether to support private or charter school education with public funds. The state's popular Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, will align with the Kentucky Education Association, a group representing tens of thousands of public school educators, in opposing the measure.

FILE - Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., listens to the testimony of Attorney General Merrick Garland during House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies budget hearing on Capitol Hill, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Washington. Kentucky voters go to the polls for the primary election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Republican Rep. Rogers, faced three primary election challengers in the 5th District, which covers eastern and parts of southern Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

FILE - Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., listens to the testimony of Attorney General Merrick Garland during House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies budget hearing on Capitol Hill, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Washington. Kentucky voters go to the polls for the primary election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Republican Rep. Rogers, faced three primary election challengers in the 5th District, which covers eastern and parts of southern Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

FILE - Democrat Morgan McGarvey speaks to supporters in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, after the won the race for the state's 3rd Congressional District. Kentucky voters go to the polls for the primary election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Rep. McGarvey, the state’s only Democratic congressman, has two opponents in the Louisville-area 3rd District. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

FILE - Democrat Morgan McGarvey speaks to supporters in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, after the won the race for the state's 3rd Congressional District. Kentucky voters go to the polls for the primary election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Rep. McGarvey, the state’s only Democratic congressman, has two opponents in the Louisville-area 3rd District. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

FILE - Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks during a TV news interview at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Fresh off his role in a failed attempt to topple the House speaker, Republican Rep. Massie downplayed any political fallout back home in Kentucky as he looked to maintain his dominance in his solidly conservative district as Bluegrass State voters headed to the polls Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE - Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks during a TV news interview at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Fresh off his role in a failed attempt to topple the House speaker, Republican Rep. Massie downplayed any political fallout back home in Kentucky as he looked to maintain his dominance in his solidly conservative district as Bluegrass State voters headed to the polls Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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