Lamb is a wonderful meat to introduce into your diet if you haven’t already. The lean consistency lends itself well to many different recipes. Lamb has a subtly sweet flavor that perfectly balances it’s naturally savory umami taste. For this recipe, we’ve paired that signature flavor with a popular Mediterranean spice blend called Za’atar, in addition to coriander and cumin. You’ll love dipping all that flavor into a fresh, creamy chimichurri.
Spiced Lamb Kebabs with Oil-Free Chimichurri
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 17 minutes
- Total Time: 27 minutes
- Yield: 4 kebabs 1x
For the Lamb:
- 3/4 lb ground lamb
- 2 tsp zaatar
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- Bamboo skewers
For the Chimichurri:
- 1/4 c parsley
- 1/4 c basil
- 1/4 c mint
- 1/3 c cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Soak bamboo skewers in water for 5 minutes
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silat
- In a bowl, combine ground lamb, za’atar, coriander, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal parts. Form each part around a bamboo skewer to cover 3/4 of the skewer. Place on prepared baking sheet.
- Transfer sheet pan to oven and cook 15-17 minutes, until cooked through
- In a food processor or blender, combine parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Pulse to finely chop, but not puree.
- Serving Size: 1 kebab
- Calories: 245.7
- Sugar: 0.2
- Sodium: 54.6
- Fat: 19.9
- Saturated Fat: 8.7
- Unsaturated Fat: 9.8
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 1.3
- Fiber: 0.6
- Protein: 14.5
- Cholesterol: 61.9
Keywords: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, grain free, oil free, soy free
What is za’atar?
Za’atar is a popular spice blend used in Mediterranean cooking. Despite the multiple vowels, it’s pronounced “zah-tar.” Traditionally, it is comprised of ground thyme, marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. It has a delightful aroma reminiscent of citrus and an earthy and pungent flavor. A little goes a long way but feel free to add more if it suits your tastes. It is sold in most grocery stores, but if you want to make your own, it’s easy! A typical blend can be made by combining 1 Tablespoon of dried thyme, oregano, and marjoram with 2 Tablespoons of sumac and 1/2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds. But, feel free to play with those ratios to match your personal preferences.
Can I add other spices?
In addition to the za’atar, we also add coriander and cumin to our spice mix. Coriander adds to the natural lemony flavor of the za’atar, while cumin plays off of the earthy spice and adds a bit of spice and nuttiness. To add even more flavor, you can certainly add some of your favorite spices. Some great options would be dried aromatics like garlic and onion. Or enhance the dried herbs by adding fresh oregano, thyme, or marjoram. A little smoked paprika would go a long way in adding some smokiness. You could even try a dash of cinnamon to add to the sweetness of the lamb.
Why do I need to soak the bamboo skewers?
Bamboo skewers can burn easily, so if you’re using bamboo or any other wooden skewer, you want to make sure you soak them in water before cooking. If you’ve ever tried to start a campfire after a rainstorm, you know that wet wood is not nearly as flammable as dry wood. Immersing your skewers in water and allowing them time to soak will reduce the chances that they’ll burn or catch fire in the oven. Your best bet is to find a shallow pan large enough to fit the skewers. Fill it with warm water and immerse the skewers, making sure they are fully submerged.
What if I don’t want to mess with the sticks?
No problem! Take this recipe from skewer to meatball by skipping the skewer and rolling the meat into golfball-sized balls. As they’ll be a bit thicker than the skewers, add about 5 minutes extra cook time to make sure they cook through. You can also patty the mixture to make burgers. Again, add about 5 minutes extra cook time as the patties will be large than the skewers.
What exactly is chimichurri?
Chimichurri is a Spanish sauce that is very popular on grilled meat. It is traditionally made from parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and chili peppers. However, the variations on a traditional chimichurri seem to be endless. For our sauce, we’re loading up on the fresh herbs. In addition to parsley, we’re adding basil, mint, and cilantro. You can really use any herb combination that fits your taste. Since we’re skipping the oil, we blend our herbs with a bit of water and lemon juice. And of course, a generous serving of garlic!