Izmir kofte is a dish I grew to love quickly in Turkey. Little cocktail sausage-shaped meatballs with peppers, potatoes, and veg in a tasty tomato sauce. It’s the perfect blend of crispy tops and saucy flavourful bottoms!
I was never a big meatball fan when I was living in the UK. I occasionally had spaghetti and meatballs cooked up by an Italian friend at Uni but had never really thought much of them. But here in Turkey meatballs are a staple dish. Every Turkish mum has their own recipe and mine is based on my Mother in Law’s.
I first discovered Izmir kofte long before I had kids, when Unal’s mum first came to visit. Like most Turkish mums, she is heavily into cooking, always watching daytime TV cookery shows and pottering around the kitchen. In Turkey it seems family etiquette to let the older women do their stuff in the house, no asking, just let them take over or they get offended. This could, of course, be because she isn’t so keen on my normal English and Asian offerings, but whatever the reason, Macide is an excellent cook and I’m more than happy to have her rustle up a storm.
Every time the in-laws arrive I am amazed at the endless Tupperware boxes full of veg, olives, borek, cakes and supplies they bring with them – sometimes all the way on a 12 hour night bus from Bursa. Macide loves the local pazar (veg market). I have to agree, Tescos veg aisle it certainly isn’t, it’s row upon row full of open-air stalls selling fresh, organic veggies piled high and bought by the kilo. Macide was horrified to see me with my English shopping ways – buying up just a couple of cucumbers and peppers with one garlic bulb rather than a carrier bag full of groceries. “Sam, cok az!” (Sam, that’s too little!) she would say in amazement. From then on I quickly learned you buy everything in bulk.
This Izmir Kofte Recipe takes around 15 minutes to put together and around 45 minutes to bake. The kids love it and the leftovers are still great heated up the next day. We serve it simply with a little green salad on the side but in lokantas (local restaurants) they tend to serve rice with it. Have a go, I’m sure you will become a fan. It’s a flexible recipe, you can spice it up with a little chili in the meat patties or sauce if you fancy some heat, or throw in other veg you need to use up.
Izmir Kofte Recipe (Baked Turkish meatballs and veg)Print This
- The Veg:
- 3 Medium potatoes (Cut into apple slice sized wedges)
- 3 long green peppers (Deseeded and cut into wedges)
- 3 long red peppers (Deseeded and cut into wedges)
- 2 Carrots (Peeled and chopped into 1/2 cm slices)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- For Sauce:
- 1 tbsp tomato salca (tomato paste)
- 3 ripe tomatoes (Skinned and roughly chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
- ½ tsp dried oregano (kekik)
- 75 ml water
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- For Meatballs:
- 500 g Mincemeat (Beef, lamb or mix)
- 3 Slices stale bread (crusts removed and soaked in a little water then squeezed)
- 1 Large onion (grated)
- 1 tsp cumin
- handful parsley
- Salt & Pepper
Set the oven to 180 degrees.
- Add all the kofte ingredients into a mixing bowl and knead until well combined.With damp hands, tear off golf ball sized pieces and form into little fat finger shapes – each should resemble a cocktail sausage. Continue until all the meat is gone (you will probably end up with around 30). Cover with cling-film and pop into the fridge until needed
Blend the chopped tomatoes, salca (paste), garlic and oregano (kekik) with 75ml of water for a second or two in a hand blender.
Lightly grease a large oven tray and arrange the potatoes, meat patties and peppers on the bottom.
- Pour over the meat and vegetables and mix well. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pop in the oven for around 45 minutes to 1 hour – until the potatoes are soft and cooked with a few top crispy bits and the kofte has shrunk.
Serve with crusty bread and some green salad.
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