With classic Middle Eastern flavors, these lamb meatballs make a great lunch or dinner. Make the cashew “yogurt” at least one day before you plan to serve the dish because it must stand at room temperature for several hours to allow the cashew to ferment like real yogurt. After it sits at room temperature, you can chill the “yogurt” in the refrigerator.
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1⁄2 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
1⁄2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 large sprigs oregano, leaves only, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chia seeds, ground in a spice grinder
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into 1⁄4-inch rounds
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
sprinkle of fresh dill, for garnish (optional)
To make the cashew “yogurt,” combine the cashews, lemon juice, and 6 tablespoons filtered water in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute; add more water as needed to achieve a yogurt-like consistency. Pour the mixture into a glass container, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, then refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drizzle a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
To make the meatballs, in a medium bowl, combine the lamb, parsley, mint, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and chia seeds. Mix well. Form the mixture into 12 evenly sized balls and place them in the prepared baking dish. Bake until firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
To make the salad, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, and scallions. Drizzle with the vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss well.
Divide the salad among 4 plates. Place 3 meatballs alongside the salad on each plate, drizzle generously with cashew “yogurt,” sprinkle on some fresh dill, if using, and serve.