Greek inspired meatballs with sun-dried tomato orzo and whipped feta is a hearty and delicious meal that everyone will love!
I LOVE this dish. It’s easy enough for a weeknight but also unique and fancy enough for guests. Super flavorful, Greek inspired lamb meatballs and veggie packed sun-dried tomato orzo pasta served with creamy, salty whipped feta cheese. It’s wonderful.
Unlike Italian meatballs, this Greek inspired version is a bit simpler and healthier. I skipped the breadcrumbs and egg and used ground lamb, tons of fresh herbs, lemon zest and some spices. If using ground lamb sounds intimidating or off-putting, it really shouldn’t be. Lamb is full of flavor and a great alternative to beef when you want to mix it up a bit. You can really use any ground meat you like in this recipe (just make sure it has some fat to it) but I highly recommend making it with lamb!
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How do I put it all together?
This dish is loaded with flavor and texture and pretty simple to put together. The meatballs are roasted in the oven. No one wants to stand over the stove and fry them in a skillet and clean up after it. While the meatballs are roasting, you can make the orzo and whip up the feta and have dinner on the table in about 40 minutes. Let’s go through the steps.
- Cut your onion in half and grate one half for the meatballs and dice the other half for the orzo.
- Mince up 3 cloves of garlic, two for the meatballs and one for the orzo.
- Chop up your herbs plus a little extra for sprinkling over the finished dish to make it look pretty.
- Mix up your meatballs and get those in the oven.
- Make the orzo and set it aside.
- Bust out the food processor and whip up some feta. Do you have to whip the feta? No. You can skip it and just crumble some over the dish. But…you’re really missing out on a key texture element if you don’t do this step. Just do it. Trust me.
- Assemble and enjoy.
Really, this is very easy.
What do I need to make this?
Ground Lamb – Most grocery stores will have ground lamb. You may have to ask for it but I found it near the packaged ground beef at Whole Foods.
Onion & Garlic – yellow or sweet onion is the way to go here.
Fresh Herbs – parsley and mint. Fresh parsley is a non-negotiable. If you can’t find mint, skip it.
Dried Oregano – you can also use fresh oregano. I will take any excuse to use The Furies Greek Mountain Oregano. It’s simply the best!
Orzo Pasta – orzo is a short grain pasta that looks just like rice. You can use regular or whole grain. Sometimes it’s hard to spot in the grocery stores but scan the pasta aisle thoroughly. It’s probably there. I also order this from Thrive Market.
Sun-dried Tomatoes – I prefer to use oil packed sun-dried tomatoes. Less chewy and packed with flavor from the oil.
Baby Spinach – a handful or two wilted in the orzo for some green.
Feta cheese – I used a 7oz block for this recipe. Somewhere between 6-8oz is fine.
Greek Yogurt – a dollop of Greek Yogurt in the whipped feta makes it so creamy.
Olive Oil – For the orzo and the whipped feta. My go-to is always The Furies Olive Oil. You will really taste the difference.
Lemon – for a pop of freshness and acidity.
Greek Meatballs with Sun-dried Tomato Orzo and Whipped Feta
For the Meatballs:
- 1 lb ground lamb
- ½ an onion grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Zest of half a lemon
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper replace with black pepper for no spice
For the Orzo:
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta
- ½ an onion finely diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 2-2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Whipped Feta:
- 7 oz package of feta cheese
- ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut one onion in half. Grate one half of the onion and finely dice the other half. Set the diced onion aside for the orzo.
- Mince three cloves of garlic. Set aside one clove for the orzo
- Chop up parsley and mint. Chop a little extra for garnishing plates at the end.
- In a large bowl place ground lamb, grated onion, two cloves minced garlic, mint, parsley, cumin, oregano, lemon zest, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix gently with hands until combined. Do not over mix!
- Coat hands in a little bit of oil and form meat mixture into tablespoon sized balls. Place on a baking sheet with a little space between them. This makes about 12-15 meatballs. Bake for 18-20 minutes until meatballs are browned and cooked through.
- While the meatballs are baking, prepare the orzo. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add in onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in garlic and orzo and cook for another 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant and orzo is toasted. Stirring frequently.
- Add 2 cups broth to the skillet and stir, scraping up any orzo that sticks to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and add in sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently until orzo is al dente. Add in a little bit more broth if it becomes too dry. During the last minute of cooking, wilt in 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves. Once orzo is cooked and spinach is wilted, squeeze in juice of half a lemon. Check for seasoning and set aside.
- In a food processor add feta, greek yogurt and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whip on high until smooth and creamy.
- To serve, place a serving of orzo on one side of the plate. Arrange meatballs on top. Dollop or swoosh whipped feta on the other side and garnish plate with more fresh mint and parsley. Serve immediately.