I say meatball, you say kebab- an Italian girl makes a Middle Eastern Meal

I love Italian food. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what my mother cooks, it’s the smells of home.

But I have a very culturally diverse palate. Mexican, Brazilian, Chinese, French, you name it. Since dating my boyfriend, my appreciation for Middle Eastern flavors has really grown.

I always loved Greek salad and kebabs and gyro and falafel and hummus. (I really like food in general and there’s very little I’ll say no to.) Then I ate homemade hummus and babaganoush and tabouli and my mind was blown. And no salad will ever hold a candle to his dad’s.

What meme makes in her kitchen is magic. I had never had a stuffed grape leaf (dolma) I really truly loved until I had hers. Instantly addicted.

Thankfully, meme always sends us care packages. Because much as I try, mine never tastes quite like hers.

Also thankfully, there is an amazing Turkish restaurant near us that makes food that tastes almost, almost, like meme’s. We even brought meme there. It has the meme seal of approval.

So if we’re really having cravings, we have that down the street.

But I was away from itty bitty city kitchen yesterday. I had a lovely trip to D.C. with my coworker for a day in our office there, but you know I hate eating out two days in a row.

I’m a good cook. I’ve watched meme in the kitchen. I can do this.

I’m going to tackle one of my boyfriend’s favorites. He’s had a rough week. And a rough week surely calls for Adana Kebabs.

Adana Kebabs are essentially minced meat (lamb, beef, veal, whatever, though lamb is traditional) with some vegetables and seasonings that is mixed and formed into logs, skewered and then grilled.

I’m switching it up and baking mine since there is no room in my city kitchen for a grill, but I’m working with all the Middle Eastern ingredients, so the flavorings should be similar enough to make up for the lack of grilled taste.

Now call me crazy, but doesn’t that sound like a meatball? Some ground meat with some stuff in it to add to the flavor? So it’s a log shape instead of a ball shape. Details, details.

This isn’t totally the traditional way, but hey, I’m an Italian girl from Jersey making kebabs. ┬áKebabs, meatballs. Same thing!

I used

  • 1 pound ground beef (you can use lamb. Grocery store didn’t have any today)
  • small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 white onion, diced
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • paprika
  • all spice
  • salt and pepper

Throw all of the ingredients in a bowl


and mix until well combined.


Form the mix into sausage-shaped logs. I almost said mini meatloaves, but meatloaf is one of the few foods I cannot stand, so I will not draw that comparison.

Lay out the meat logs (haha meat logs, don’t know why but that makes me laugh) on a foil-lined baking sheet.


Pop in the fridge for a bit to set up.

When you’re ready to cook them up, remove from fridge and let them come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400.

I’m making a side dish of paprika roasted cauliflower over couscous.

For that, throw cauliflower florets into a foil-lined baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and douse with paprika.


Roast for 40-45 minutes. The cauliflower takes on a golden orangey hue.


The kebabs will take about 20 minutes to cook, so throw them in with the cauliflower about halfway through its roasting time.


Whip up some tzatziki and some quick cook couscous, or warm up some pita bread and yemek!

(That’s eat in Turkish!)

Not bad for an Italian girl from Jersey.