Tasty Tuesday

Toasted Pine Nut Lamb Kofta with Grated Beetroot Freekeh Salad

Gemma Lush
Tuesday 6th August 2013
This week we’re excited to welcome a brand new Tasty Tuesday contributor – emerging Sydney-based food stylist Gemma Lush!  If you’re a regular reader of his column, Gemma’s very memorable name will probably already be familiar to you!  Ms. Lush has styled a few fabulous food shoots for us already, but with an impressive culinary repertoire of her own, we thought it was time to showcase some of her own delicious recipes!  This month Gemma will share with us four delicious Middle Eastern recipes, inspired by her travels across Turkey last year.  Please make her feel very welcome! – Lucy

Toasted pinenut lamb kofta with grated beetroot freekeh salad.  Recipe and food styling – Gemma Lush, photo – Phu Tang.  Background tiles by Jatana Interiors.  Ceramic bowls – Mud Australia.

When it comes to Middle Eastern food, the term ‘less is more’ does not exist. Meals are packed with bold, intense flavours, spices and herbs, making each dish incredibly fragrant and exciting. I travelled to Turkey last year and fell in love with everything about the country, particularly the amazing produce, flavours and methods used to prepare the food. Every dish I ate, from Istanbul to Cappadocia in central Turkey, was prepared with such love and respect. From the most intense 8 hour cooked cinnamon lamb, to the simplest tomato salad. The recipes for this month are inspired by the food I ate along my travels.

As a stylist I’m not just into the flavours of food, but how a meal looks. We really do eat with our eyes! Each dish over the next month is fabulous eaten as a solo dish week by week, however by the end of the Tasty Tuesday month you will have four recipes that make an impressive menu for an evening of entertaining. Try them along the way, then if you’re game, all together. I promise you they make for the most incredible feast!

To kick things off I’m starting with my toasted pine nut lamb kofta and freekeh salad. Every Australian loves a rissole, am I right? Kofta is a basically a jazzed up rissole, eaten widely over the Middle East. I have tried may recipes using different meats, spices and herbs. Every region I have visited and read about has a different take on how it should be done. The toasted pine nuts in this recipe give the kofta a lovely sweetness and a little extra crunch. I’ve experimented with meats and think it’s best to stick with tradition and use lamb mince. If you can, I highly recommend getting your meat from your local butcher, it needs to be super fresh and I promise your taste buds will thank you for it!

I like to team kofta with a fresh freekeh salad. Freekeh is an ancient grain that is processed from durum wheat, harvested while the grain is still young, soft and green. The grain originated from the ancient Arabic world and has a lovely nutty, firm yet fluffy texture. It has a hint of smokiness from the husks being burnt off after harvesting. Do have a fossick around for this grain, you will find it health food stores, delis and Middle Eastern grocers. It is delicious!

Ingredients

For the kofta

500g good quality minced lamb
50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 egg
Hand full of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin, ground
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp hot paprika
¼ tsp cinnamon
Good pinch salt
Olive oil for pan frying

For the freekeh salad

1 cup freekeh
1 ½ x large beetroots, peeled and grated
6 medjool dates, pitted and sliced into quarters lengthways
½ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup finely chopped mint leaves
1 lemon, skin removed and cut into segments
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin, ground
Good pinch sea salt

Method

Toasted pinenut lamb kofta with grated beetroot freekeh salad.  Recipe and food styling – Gemma Lush, photo – Phu Tang.  Background tiles by Jatana Interiors.  Ceramic bowls – Mud Australia.

For the kofta

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. You’ll need to pop the kofta in the oven at the end to finish cooking them through.

In a small fry pan on medium heat, gently toast the pine nuts, then set aside. In a large mixing bowl add the lamb mince and all remaining ingredients, gently combine them together. Once the pine nuts are cooled, mix through the lamb – I like to get in there and use my hands. You’ll get them dirty anyway, as you’ll need to roll the mixture into balls.

Once fully combined, roll the kofta into 50 cent sized pieces. Wet your hands with a little water, this will help prevent the mince mixture from sticking. You should get approximately 24 kofta from one batch.

Heat a fry pan until quite hot, drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add the kofta in small batches, frying for 2-3 minutes on all sides. They should be brown, charred and crispy and still raw on the inside. Once they are all fried, place the kofta onto a baking tray and finish off cooking for 5-10 minutes or until they are just cooked through in the oven. Finishing them this way will ensure the kofta retain their juiciness and not dry out. There’s nothing worse than dry minced meat!

Gemma Lush prepares the kofta.  photo – Phu Tang.  Ceramic bowls – Mud Australia.

For the freekeh salad

Freekeh is really easy to cook, I use the same method you would use to cook pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the cup of freekeh. Cook for 20 minutes until the grain starts to open up, make sure there is still a little bit of bite to the freekeh – just like overcooked pasta, overcooked freekeh is not very nice! When done, drain and rinse the grains in cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

With a knife, peel the skin off the lemon. Run your knife closely along the edge of the pith to remove each of the lemon’s segments. Having large bits of lemon in the salad means every now and then you get a lovely burst of lemony acidity, it adds real dimension to the dish!

I like to layer this salad, it’s a really pretty way to serve it.  Place the freekeh in your salad bowl and spread to form the base of the salad. Sprinkle the cumin and salt on top of the freekeh, then add the grated beetroot, dates, lemon and lastly herbs. Finish with the lemon juice and olive oil.

Enjoy the kofta and salad together with a generous dollop of hummus or Greek yoghurt. Delicious!

For more of Gemma’s beautiful styling work, do check out her folio website – and like every self respecting foodie, she has her own recipe blog too!  

Toasted pinenut lamb kofta with grated beetroot freekeh salad.  Recipe and food styling – Gemma Lush, photo – Phu Tang.  Background tiles by Jatana Interiors.  Ceramic bowls – Mud Australia.

Gemma Lush
Tuesday 6th August 2013

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