Za’atar Spiced Venison Meatballs

Recipe Contributed by D. Prewett of Wild and Whole.

Anyone who shoots a deer is likely to end up with several pounds of ground meat in the freezer, so it’s natural to be on the lookout for a good meatball recipe. This zesty recipe is sort of a fusion between Greek & Middle Eastern style cuisine, but with a personal twist.  The venison meatballs are seasoned with Za’atar, one of my favorite spice blends that originate in the Middle East and is comprised of herbs, sesame seeds and sumac.  The meatballs are browned and then served with an avocado based Tzatziki sauce, a cucumber & dill condiment that is commonly found in any Greek restaurant.

 
Although the venison meatballs and Tzatziki are grain free and dairy free, I couldn’t resist serving these like a gyro – stuffed inside of homemade garlic naan with roasted red onion wedges, tomatoes and zucchini (all of which were seasoned with lemon juice and Za’atar.)  You could also serve these with rice, pita bread, feta cheese, or just a simple mix of veggies as shown.

The only difficult part of this recipe is tracking down Za’atar.  You can find it at any specialty food market or online, but you could also make the spice mix at home by using the recipe found at wildandwhole.com.

Ingredients:

Venison MeatballsVenison Meatballs
  • 1 lb. Ground Venison
  • ¼ C. Red Onion, finely diced
  • ¼ C. Minced Parsley
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • ½ C. Almond Meal
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • 1½ T. Za’atar
  • Oil for cooking
Avocado Tzatziki
  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • 1½ T. Lemon Juice
  • 2 T. Water
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ¼ C. Cucumber, Seeds removed and finely diced
  • 1 T. Dill
  • Black Pepper
Serving
  • Extra Dill, Parsley, Roasted Veggies, Pita or Naan Bread for Serving
Preparation:
Avocado Tzatziki
  1. Puree in a small blender or food processor the avocado, lemon juice, water, garlic, olive oil and salt until it reaches a smooth consistency.  Pour it out into a small bowl and stir in the chopped cucumber, dill and season to taste with crushed black pepper.

Avocado Tzatziki

Venison Meatballs
  1. If your ground venison was frozen, be sure to let it come to room temperature and drain out any excess juices (pat dry with paper towel if necessary). Combine all of the above listed ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl, being sure to mix thoroughly.
  2. Roll the meat mixture into golf sized balls and set aside on a tray until ready to cook.
  3. In a large saute pan (or cast iron), heat a little bit of oil  at Medium-High heat.  Once hot, add the meat balls one at a time, being sure to leave space in between.  Brown the meatballs on one side, flip and continue to brown all the way around.  Set them to the side until ready to serve.
  4. Serve the Meatballs as desired with flatbread or rice, roasted veggies, extra dill and parsley.

Venison Meatballs

 

 

About the Author
D. PrewettDanielle is a small town girl from Texas who now calls North Dakota home.  Despite being raised by her father who was a hunter, she didn’t enjoy hunting and cooking game until she met her husband, an avid outdoorsman.  She has always been conscious of living a healthy lifestyle, but the wild game and public lands of North Dakota have offered her a new perspective on what a healthy lifestyle should consist of.  She is passionate about cooking and the author of the blog, Wild + Whole, whose main focus is to share healthy recipes for wild game.  When Danielle is not cooking, you can find her in the field helping her husband train their Golden Retriever and Deutsch Drahthaar into the fine hunting companions they are now.

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