This Easy Kafta Recipe turns a classic Lebanese dish into a simple weeknight meal. This recipe uses ground beef, doesn’t make you mess around with skewers, and can be served two different ways – as a sandwich or in a bowl!
Anyway, have you ever met or seen someone that you feel might be your long lost sibling? Or just the opposite-sex version of you?
For me, that person is Jeff Mauro, i.e. “The Sandwich King” on the Food Network.
As soon as we saw him on “The Next Food Network Star,” my husband and I immediately noticed how similar he was to me – a love of sandwiches and turning all types of food into sandwiches, an oddball demeanor in the kitchen, and a really strange sense of humor that isn’t for everyone.
When we watch his show on weekend mornings, we often just laugh about the fact that my male counterpart scored a Food Network show.
Oh, and we have a similar food sensibility, as all of The Sandwich King’s recipes are to die for, even if they can be a bit labor intensive and time consuming.
We’ve tried several of them, our favorite being his Greek Tacos.
An easy kafta recipe, served two different ways
For today’s weekday supper, I thought I would adapt Jeff Mauro’s Kefta Dog with Roasted Tomatoes, Ballpark Style into a quick weeknight meal made with ground beef.
While the original recipe requires 25 minutes of prep time plus 1 hour, 40 minutes of cook time (!!!), my version can be prepared in just about 30 minutes (just like my chicken sloppy joes and taco mac and cheese).
I actually adapted this recipe two different ways – one which is more along the lines of Jeff’s kafta hog dog idea, and a second serving option that skips the bun and serves the kafta in a bowl with rice and garnishes.
Instructions for both serving ideas are in the recipe card below. Psst – kafta can also be served as shish kofta lettuce wraps!
What is kafta?
Kofta/kefta/kafta is a Middle Eastern meatball or skewer, usually consisting of beef or lamb mixed with onion and spices.
In my recipe, versatile ground beef is flavored with just enough onion, garlic, herbs and spices to give it some extra flavor, but not too much so that you can’t taste the great flavor of the meat itself.
Instead of shaping the beef onto skewers (which is traditional), I skipped the skewers and formed the meat into logs (longer logs for the hot dog serving idea, and shorter logs for the bowls).
After a quick trip to the oven or grill, I finish the beef kafta with a simple savory yogurt sauce, and garnishes like cucumber and tomatoes. SometimesI’ll even serve them with Greek yogurt mashed potatoes.
How to cook kafta:
In the summer, I’ll cook it on the grill. In the winter, I’ll cook it in the oven (when I’m not making root beer ribs).
Either way, I skip the skewers because I don’t find them necessary as long as you’re careful about transfer the kafta to the grill or baking pan, and turn them carefully when you need to.
It’s important to cook the kafta to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F for food safety, per the USDA guidelines.
For the Kafta:
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/3 cup finely minced yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Yogurt Sauce:
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper
For Serving Hot Dog Style:
- 4 hot dog buns
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 1 Roma tomato, diced
For Serving Bowl Style:
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups prepared white or brown rice
- 1 cup prepared hummus
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Make Kafta: Preheat grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. In large bowl, mix garlic, beef, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper until well combined.
- To serve hot dog style, divide mixture into 4 portions and shape each portion into a 5- to 6-inch-long hot-dog shaped log. To serve bowl style, divide mixture into 8 portions and shape each portion into a 3- to 3-1/2-inch long log.
- Transfer kafta to grill and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, make Yogurt Sauce: In small bowl, stir together lemon juice, yogurt, lemon zest, oregano, salt and pepper.
- To serve hot dog style, place kafta in hot dog buns and top with yogurt sauce, cucumber and tomato. To serve bowl style, place tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and olive oil in medium bowl and toss until well combined. Divide rice between 4 serving bowls or plates and top with hummus, tomato mixture, kafta and yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with parsley for garnish.
To cook kafta in oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place kafta on rimmed baking pan and bake 13 to 15 minutes or until internal temperature of kafta reaches 165 degrees F.
Adapted from Jeff Mauro.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 451mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 34g
Nutrition information includes kafta and yogurt sauce.