At the kofta, kofta cabana…

Josh and I are trying a new thing this month: not spending half our take home pay in food costs.  Radical, I know.  Especially when there’s only two of us.  Well, and Winston, but he doesn’t get people food, much to his dismay.  But between eating out fairly often (especially lunches during the work week, Sunday breakfasts at Afternoon Delight or Mark’s Midtown Coney Island and the frequent dinner out alone or with friends) and shopping at some not-so-wallet-friendly places just because they happen to be right across the street (coughwholefoodscough) and have an excellent meat counter, we do spend an inordinate amount of money on food.  That and we tend to not eat leftovers, and we buy expensive ingredients because well…we’re foodies.  We like to make and cook food of various types, and we get bored easily so…well, you can see how it lands us into trouble.

Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah.  Economizing.  Busch’s has ground sirloin on sale!  I adore ground sirloin.  So we bought a family pack of the stuff because hey, we eat beef pretty often (can you tell?), we have a ton of plastic baggies AND we have one of the greatest kitchen tools ever–a countertop scale.  We are in business.

And because I had this lovely pack of ground beef, I decided to try something new that would also utilize mostly ingredients I already had in the cupboards: beef kofta.

Kofta, or kefta, are basically Middle Eastern/South Asian meatballs which have variations numbering in the hundreds.  Often you’ll see them shaped like sausages and grilled on sticks.  That’s more or less what I was going for here.  Emboldened by the fact that kofta can be so varied, I didn’t worry about whether it’s truly authentic (I can assure you it’s not) and just focused on making something tasty, easy and quick.

Which brings us, finally, to the recipe.

Well not just yet.

What to serve the kofta with?  I had a box of orzo left since, after all, we are never without pasta.  Originally I’d thought maybe making rice, but my current bag of rice is a brown rice that takes like an hour to cook and I didn’t want to wait that long.  Orzo is small rice-shaped pasta—not as small as say, couscous, of course–and it cooks a bit quicker than most other pastas.

And we had some dried apricots we’d gotten at my favorite Ann Arbor bulk spice emporium, By the Pound a short while back, and looking through the fridge I found some frozen peas and some almonds.  Add in a bit of the fresh parsley from today’s farm share delivery…and done.

Beef Something Like Kofta
Serves 2

3/4 pound ground sirloin
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 egg white
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
3 skewers (if using bamboo, soak in water for 20 minutes first)

Mix all ingredients by fluffing together with a fork until thoroughly incorporated.  2 ounces at a time, fashion meat into 6 small sausage-y shapes.  Or round.  Your choice.  They don’t need to be exact.  You’ll want the meat to be sticky enough to stay cohesive when you put it on the skewer.  Thread meat onto skewers: I did two sausages per skewer.

Grill until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes over medium heat, or bake at 375F for 15 minutes.  Pull off skewers and serve (we each got three little sausages, which I plated over some sliced tomato) with the orzo.

Orzo You Say

4oz orzo
1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1/2 c. frozen or fresh peas)
2 tbsp almonds, chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo as directed on package, adding in the apricots at the same time.  In the last minute of cooking, add in the peas to just warm them through.  Drain orzo mix and toss in the almonds, parsley, and the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir, eat and enjoy.

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