This shawarma-spiced meatball salad bowl is bursting with the flavor of New York Shuk’s shawarma spice blend for an easy, healthy dinner everyone will love.
What is shawarma?
Shawarma is a popular eastern Mediterranean style of preparing meat that can be found throughout the Levant. Similar to gyro meat, it involves layering thin slices of meat around a skewer or spit and roasting as the skewer rotates slowly. The meat and spices will vary, but it’s traditionally prepared with lamb or mutton. Chicken, beef, turkey, or veal are also common.
While the cooking method of gyro meat and shawarma meat is similar, the difference between the two lies in the spices. Shawarma is well-spiced, with a complex flavor profile. The spices can include turmeric, cardamom, cumin, and plenty of garlic.
To get the flavor of shawarma at home, I recommend grabbing a blend online. My favorite is New York Shuk’s Shawarma Spice Blend. This complex blend upgrades any dinner, but works particularly well in this shawarma-spiced meatball salad bowl.
Alternatively, you can make the shawarma spice at home.
How to make this shawarma-spiced meatball salad bowl:
Once you have your shawarma spice blend in hand, it’s time to cook. This recipe has a few components, including:
- Meatballs: Made with ground turkey, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, parsley, shawarma spices, scallions, spicy pepper flakes, panko, and egg.
- Salad: A mix of fresh greens, like watercress and Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, avocado, and parsley.
- Yogurt sauce and hummus: A sharp, extra-bright yogurt sauce works perfectly with the spiced meatballs and creamy hummus for serving.
How to make it:
- Step 1: First, start with the meatballs. Combine all the ingredients, form into small meatballs, and then fry until almost cooked through. Add a little water, cover, and simmer until completely cooked through.
- Step 2: Prepare the yogurt sauce. As the meatballs cook, combine the sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over finely diced cucumber.
- Step 3: Make the salad. Combine the salad ingredients in a big bowl and set aside.
- Step 4: Plate it up! Add a big smear of hummus in each bowl, pile the greens on the hummus, and then arrange avocado and warm meatballs on each dish. Finish with a drizzle of the yogurt sauce.
The best part? This meal is so versatile depending on your preferences. Use ground chicken, pork, beef, or veal for the meatballs if you prefer. The salad can be made with any number of ingredients. No watercress? Use all Romaine or mix in spring salad greens. Add your favorite vegetables to the salad, like sliced red bell peppers or roasted sweet potatoes. No hummus? You can dress chickpeas in a little extra shawarma spice and extra virgin olive oil and pile them on top of the salad with the meatballs.
P.S.: It’s even better the next day.
Shawarma-Spiced Meatball Salad Bowl
- Large skillet
- Food processor
- ½ –¾ cup panko, more as needed
- 1 egg
- 2 scallions, minced
- 1 tablespoon shawarma spice
- 1 teaspoon black Urfa chili flakes, or use a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons parsley, minced
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, for frying
- ½ cup water or chicken stock
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, a few leaves reserved for garnish
- 1 small jalapeño, trimmed
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
- 1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 radishes, trimmed and sliced
- ½ English cucumber, sliced into rounds
- 2 ounces watercress or spring mix
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces plain hummus
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- Pinch of salt, to taste
- Dukkah or sesame seeds, optional
Make the meatballs:
- Add ½ cup panko, egg, scallions, shawarma spice, chili flakes, parsley, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Place the turkey on top and season all over with salt and pepper. Mix to incorporate all of the ingredients. Add the remaining ¼ cup panko (or more) if the mixture is too wet. Take a small piece and fry or microwave until cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Form into tablespoon-sized meatballs and set aside.
Fry the meatballs:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the meatballs in an even layer, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to fry them in batches.
- Cook, turning every 3 minutes, until well-browned all over and nearly cooked through.
- If you cooked in batches, return all the meatballs to the pot in an even layer and pour in the water or stock. Bring to a boil and then cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until the meatballs reach 165ºF. Keep warm as you finish the salad.
Make the yogurt sauce:
- Combine the cilantro, jalapeño, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until minced. Add the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and water and pulse until combined. Add more water to achieve a drizzling consistency. Taste and add salt.
- Place the diced English cucumber in a bowl. Pour the sauce over the cucumber and toss to combine. Taste and season.
Make the salad:
- Combine the Romaine lettuce, parsley leaves, radishes, cucumber, watercress, and halved cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add a sprinkle of salt.
- Spoon 1–2 tablespoons hummus into 4 shallow bowls and use the back of your spoon to smooth it out into a smear. Pile the salad on top and arrange a few slices of avocado on each salad. Pile meatballs on top of each salad and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Garnish with dukkah and cilantro leaves, if you like. Enjoy!