Mediterranean flavors abound in this healthy and delicious Turkey Kofta Bowl. The turkey meatballs are packed with onion, garlic, mint, and warm spices like cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It’s balanced with a bright and citrusy tomato, cucumber, and onion salad. And the creamy bed of hummus helps hug all the flavors together. But the star of this bowl is undeniably the spicy herbed Zhoug sauce that will have your taste buds singing for joy.
Bowl VERZUZ Battle: How It Works
This week is round 4 of the first inaugural BOWL VERZUZ. A head-to-head battle with my husband, Chef Kenneth Temple. Each week we are given the same featured ingredient, and we must build a bowl around that ingredient. This week’s featured ingredient – meatballs.
Every Friday in January, we will share our submissions, and we need you to vote on the best bowl by leaving a message in the comments below. My submission for this week’s battle is Turkey Kofta Bowl, turkey meatballs topped with spicy herbed Zhoug sauce on a bed of hummus accompanied by tomato, cucumber, and onion salad. While Kenneth’s delicious Mediterranean Lamb Meatball Bowl can be found here. If you like mine, leave a message below. If his bowl is your favorite, leave a comment on his page.
Turkey Kofta Bowl Ingredients
To make this crave-worthy turkey Kofta bowl, you’re going to need the key ingredients listed below.
- Ground Turkey: While Kofta is traditionally made with beef or lamb, I love making a leaner version with 85% lean ground turkey. Feel free to use any of the three types of meat to make yours.
- Kofta Seasoning: The key to the best Kofta is the herbs and spices used to season it! Get ready to break out the spice cabinet because you will be using a ton of flavorful herbs and spices for both the turkey Kofta and the Zhoug sauce.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh cilantro is absolutely essential to the Zhoug sauce we’ll be pairing with the turkey Kofta bowl. Additionally, you will need mint and cilantro or parsley to make the Kofta itself. Fresh, vibrant flavors are super important in this recipe, so I highly recommend sticking to fresh herbs.
- Bread Crumbs: Make sure to use plain bread crumbs, as we will have plenty of seasoning from the herbs and spices. This ingredient helps bind the Kofta mixture and keep it from falling apart.
- Jalapenos: These are the stars of our Zhoug sauce (aka spicy cilantro sauce) and add a ton of fresh, vibrant flavor. To adjust the heat level, add or remove jalapeno seeds as you deem necessary.
- Tomato Cucumber Salad: Made simply with fresh vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, and za’atar, this light and refreshing salad makes a beautiful addition to this amazing Kofta bowl.
- Hummus: This will serve as the base of our bowl, so make sure to choose a brand that you really love or, better yet—make your own hummus from scratch.
How to Make the Best Turkey Kofta Bowl
To make this mouth-watering Kofta bowl, you will need to prepare the Kofta, Zhoug sauce, and tomato cucumber salad. For the sake of convenience, feel free to use store-bought hummus and garlic sauce.
Turkey Kofta: In a food processor, add onion, garlic, mint, parsley, and process until very fine (like salsa). Next, add the ground turkey, bread crumbs, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika, salt, sumac, black pepper, and cayenne, then process until everything is combined.
Take about 2 tablespoons of the mix and mold into sausage shapes or meatballs. If skewering the meat, mold it around the skewer by squeezing tightly, then place on a sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to keep your Kofta from falling apart.
Spray rack with cooking spray and heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side, turning the Kofta to cook evenly or until the interior temperature registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Zhoug Sauce: Pulse garlic and jalapeño in a food processor until they are in small pieces. Then, add the cilantro, mint, cumin, cardamom, coriander, salt, chili flakes, and lime juice. Pulse 3-4 times.
With the machine still running, pour the olive oil through the feeder tube until the mixture is relatively smooth but still has a bit of texture.
Tomato Cucumber Salad: In a large bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, za’atar, kosher salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined. Then, add tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and toss until everything is coated with the dressing.
Bowl Assembly: Divide hummus evenly into 4 bowls as the base. Add 4 Kofta to each bowl, followed by the salad and garlic sauce. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Zhoug sauce into each bowl and enjoy.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to help you make this turkey Kofta bowl recipe:
- Don’t feel like firing up the grill? You can bake Kofta in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- When making Kofta and Zhoug sauce, fresh herbs are essential to achieving the delicious flavor we’re going for. Make sure to stick to fresh herbs rather than substituting dried herbs in their place. Trust me; it makes a huge difference.
- I prefer to grate onions for the Kofta because the result is finer than chopped onion, but it produces quite a bit of excess moisture. To avoid this, try pressing down on your grated onion with a spoon to release the juices, and then use a paper towel to absorb them. This helps create a tighter Kofta mix.
- If you don’t have ground turkey or simply want to go the more traditional route, you can swap it out for ground beef, ground lamb, or a combination of the two.
- For a show-stopping (and delicious) final dish, garnish your bowl with fresh herbs and crumbled feta cheese just before serving it.
What is Zhoug Sauce?
Zhoug sauce, also spelled as Zhug or Shug, is a spicy Middle Eastern condiment used to add flavor to everything from Kofta to fish and vegetables. It’s made from a basic combination of fresh cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, mint leaves, lime juice, olive oil, and spices. This delicious sauce is spicy, refreshing, and packed with incredible flavors.
While Zhoug sauce is known for having a bit of a kick, you can easily control the heat when you make it from scratch. If you love spicy food, keep all of the jalapeno seeds. For a medium heat level, remove half of the seeds. If you prefer your dishes on the mild side, remove all of the jalapeno seeds. It’s that easy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the answers to some of the most common questions about this turkey Kofta bowl recipe:
What is Kofta seasoning made of?
Popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, Kofta seasoning is a flavorful combination of herbs and spices used to season ground meat. While the exact ingredients can vary, my recipe calls for salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, smoked paprika, and sumac.
What meat is Kofta made from?
Kofta (or Kefta) is most often made from lamb, but many people use beef or a combination of the two. I prefer to use 85% lean ground turkey for a lighter option in this recipe. It’s still incredibly delicious, especially with all the wonderful spices we mix in.
How do you keep Kofta on the skewer?
To keep Kofta on the skewer, you will want to lay the skewered Koftas in a single layer on the sheet pan. Then, cover the pan with saran wrap or foil and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. The bread crumbs should also help to keep the Kofta from falling apart.
More Recipe Ideas
Now it’s your turn!
Turkey Kofta Bowl is the perfect dish for anyone who loves Mediterranean food. It’s packed with fresh ingredients and spices that will make your taste buds dance! So what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try, and let me know how it turned out.
I hope this recipe has inspired you to get cooking. Also, try some of my other bowl recipes, Sunshine Clementine Smoothie Bowl, Jerk Soul Bowl, and Healthy Soul Bowl – you won’t be disappointed! Remember to come back and leave me a five-star review when you do.
Oh, and don’t forget to cast your vote for the Bowl Verzuz Battle down below as well.
- ¼ onion grated or finely minced, see note 1
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoons mint sprigs chopped
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, chopped
- 1 lb 85/15 ground turkey
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sumac optional
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Cooking Spray
Zhoug Sauce (aka Zhug, Shug, or Skhug)
- 3 jalapenos roughly chopped (see note 2)
- 3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro roughly chopped & long stems removed
- 4 fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamon
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes optional
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Tomato cucumber salad
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 english cucumber approx 1 cup, sliced & quartered
- 1/4 small red onion approx ½ cup, chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon zaatar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Plating & garnish
- 2 cups prepared hummus
- ½ cup garlic sauce – toum optional
To make turkey kofta
- In a food processor add onion, garlic, mint, parsley, and process until very fine like a salsa. Add ground turkey, bread crumbs, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika, salt, sumac, black pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and process until everything is combined.
- Take about 2 tablespoons of the mix and mold into sausage shapes or meatballs. If skewering the meat, mold it around the skewer by squeezing tightly and place on sheet pan. Secure kofta shape by covering and refrigerating for 30-60 minutes.
To prepare in the oven
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Lightly spray grill rack or baking rack with cooking spray and place over a sheet pan. Arrange kofta over the rack and bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
To prepare on the grill or grill pan
- Spray rack with cooking spray and heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Grill 5-6 minutes on each side, turning them to cook evening or until the interior temperature registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
To prepare Zhoug Sauce (aka Zhug, Shug, or Skhug)
- Pulse garlic and jalapeño in a small food processor until they are in small pieces. Add the cilantro, mint, cumin, cardamom, coriander, salt, chili flakes, lime juice, and pulse 3-4 times.
- With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feeder tube until the mixture is relatively smooth but still has a bit of texture.
To prepare tomato-cucumber salad
- To a large bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, zaatar, kosher salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined.
- Add in tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion and toss until everything is coated with the dressing.
To assemble bowl
- Divide hummus into 4 bowls as the base. Add 4 kofta to each bowl, followed by the salad and the garlic sauce. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Zhoug sauce across each bowl and enjoy.
- Grating onion is preferred because the result is finer but it does produce alot of excess moisture. I like to grate onion in a large bowl. Then with a spoon, I press the onion to 1 side of the bowl to release the excess juices. I then use a paper towel to pat and absorb the onion juice. This helps create a tighter kofta mix.
- To control the final heat level of the Zhoug sauce do the following:
- Hot/fiery: keep in jalapeno seeds
- Medium: remove half the jalapeno seeds
- Milk: remove all the jalapeno seeds
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
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