Meatball and Feta Lettuce Cups

This recipe was again inspired by something I read in a foodie magazine.  Awesome boyfriend loves meatballs, but I don't make them that often because they are kind of a lot of work.  This recipe is definitely worth it.  I was a little bit skeptical of how feta and mint would work together but the combination was amazing.  Each flavor was totally distinct and neither overpowered the other, nor the rest of the dish.
Meatballs, tomato, onions, and feta cheese.  What's not to love?
1 1/2 lbs 80/20 ground beef
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized shallots
1/4 C dry minced onions
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 C fresh mint leaves
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 small tomato
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 head of Boston Bibb lettuce
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. Peel shallots and slice into thin strips.  
  3. Add shallots to a bowl of warm water and allow to soak for at least ten minutes.  
  4. While shallots are soaking, add ground beef, dry minced onions, garlic, 2 ounces feta cheese, and salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl.  
  5. Tear mint leaves into small pieces and add to mixing bowl.  
  6. Combine ingredients in mixing bowl with your hands.  Once all ingredients are combined, form mixture into balls the size of a golf ball.  I was able to get 16 meatballs, you might have a few more or less. 
  7. Brush meatballs on all sides with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  
  8. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large pan and heat over medium.  
  9. Once olive oil is hot, add meatballs.  They don't need to cook long- just enough to brown them on all sides.  This will be about 3-4 minutes total.  Turn them with a spatula or fork as needed.  
  10. After meatballs have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet.  
  11. Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes.  If you made small meatballs this will be long enough.  Check for doneness, and if they are still pink in the middle, return to oven for another 5 minutes.  
  12. While meatballs are cooking, drain water away from sliced shallots with a colander.  
  13. Add shallots to a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, remaining 2 ounces of feta cheese, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  
  14. Cut 2-4 slices off of the tomato and dice.  You should have about 1/4 C.  Add to onion mixture.  
  15. Gently toss ingredients in onion mixture with a slotted spoon.  Be careful not to break up the feta cheese too much.  
  16. Pull leaves off of the head of Bibb lettuce and discard the stem and root.  
  17. Once meatballs are finished cooking, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  
  18. Layer 1 leaf of lettuce, 1 or 2 meatballs, and a spoonful of onion mixture. 
  19. Wrap and enjoy!  
  • For meatballs, it is important to get the fattiest ground beef available.  You might even be able to find 75/25.  Anything too lean will cause them to fall apart and burn.  
  • The reason we soak onions is to cut back on the bite a little bit.  When you chop onions they release an irksome substance that makes you cry and has a sharp taste.  Soaking them reduces some of this so that their flavor won't take over the dish.  
  • If you prefer, you can use fresh garlic for this recipe.  I hate chopping garlic so I use the stuff from the jar and it always tastes great, but whatever makes you happy.  
  • Don't spend on expensive feta.  Your grocery store should have feta crumbles next to the blue cheese crumbles for about $3 for four ounces.  
  • If you prefer balsamic vinegar I believe you could substitute that for red wine vinegar for a sharper taste.  
  • Bibb lettuce is expensive, I know, but it really is the best lettuce for a wrap like this.  The leaves break off perfectly and are large enough to hold all of the ingredients.  If you really don't want to use Bibb lettuce I think that you could use the large Romaine leaves, but they are not as delicate as Bibb and I'm worried that the crunchy texture will overpower the rest of the meal.  
  • You can absolutely double or triple this recipe if you want more than sixteen meatballs.  I'm actually planning to do that next time.  
  • You can almost eat as many of these as you want because they are pretty low in carbs.  The tomatoes do have some carbs, so maybe cut back on those or just skip them if you are pigging out.  These meatballs are a great low carb food, so feel free to cut loose on those.  
Onions soaking.  I chopped some extra for salads tomorrow.  You
probably won't get this many out of 2 shallots.  

Little meatballs about to be brushed with olive oil.  

Help us!  We're burning!  

Onion, feta, and tomato topping

Bibb lettuce has large round leaves that are great for all kinds of wraps.  

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