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This week we’re celebrating National Meatball Day! For a different take on traditional meatballs, our own Barbara Wilder came up with this spicy lamb recipe to delight your taste buds. The cool yogurt and bright minty pesto are a revelation.

Lamb Meatballs with Raisin Pesto

recipe by Andy Baraghani for Bon Appetit Test Kitchen


  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley, plus 1 cup parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teraspoons salt, plus more
  • 2 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt for serving


  1. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees. Combine egg, panko, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, finely chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Finely grate 1 garlic clove into bowl. Add lamb and mix with your hands until evenly distributed.
  2. Gently roll lamb mixture into 1 ½” diameter balls (about the size of a golf ball; you should have about 20). Place on a rimmed baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Bake meatballs until browned and cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, puree mint, raisins, parsley leaves with tender stems, remaining garlic clove, remaining ½ cup oil, and a big pinch of salt in a blender until smooth. Taste the pesto; season with more salt if needed.
  4. Spread yogurt over plates and divide pesto and meatballs on top.

Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Meatballs can be formed 2 months ahead; freeze on baking sheet until firm, about 2 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag and keep frozen until ready to thaw and bake.

Try a yummy Greek salad, some roasted cauliflower, lemon roasted potatoes, or maybe lentils or barley with mushrooms as an appropriate side dish.  What a great way to celebrate meatballs!