Julia Turshen’s Turkey Merguez-ish Meatballs Yogurt + Herb Dip

We realized we’ve been giving lunches short shrift here in our recipe collection, so here’s a wonderful recipe from one of my favorite websites Design*Sponge and chefs (Julia Turshen).  Julia (author of one of my favorite cookbooks, Small Victories) loves to make lunch boxes for her wife Grace Bonney (author of In the Company of Women…another huge favorite of mine) when she’s going into the city for business for the day.  This lunch box was inspired by recipes in her cookbook.  Click here to see the original post on DesignSponge.


Photo from Design*Sponge.com

Photo from Design*Sponge.com



Turkey Merguez-ish Meatballs
Yogurt + Herb Dip
Whole Wheat Pita, Olives + Sliced Cucumbers

This lunchbox features turkey meatballs laced with the wonderful flavors you typically find in North African merguez (lamb sausage). There’s a great recipe for Homemade Merguez patties in Small Victories that uses lamb and a hot grill, but for a lighter and more weeknight-friendly option, I opt for turkey and the oven. If you can’t find harissa, which is a very garlicky chile paste from North Africa (the most widely used type comes in a very chic tube), you can substitute a large pinch of red chile flakes or an equal amount of your preferred chile paste or hot sauce. These meatballs are equally great when they’re hot out of the oven as they are cold from the fridge.

Turkey Merguez-ish Meatballs
Serves 4


  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste (leave out if you prefer these mild or add more if you prefer them extra spicy)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large handful finely chopped cilantro and/or parsley
  • 1 lb/453 g ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the garlic, harissa, cumin, coriander, salt, and cilantro and/or parsley in a large bowl and stir everything together. Add the turkey and mix well with your hands (just get in there, they’re the best tools for the job) until everything is evenly combined. Form the turkey mixture into 16 golf ball-sized meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pan in even rows. Drizzle the meatballs evenly with the olive oil and use your hands to spread the oil over the surface of each meatball.

Roast the meatballs until they’re browned and firm to the touch, about 20-25 minutes.

Yogurt + Herb Dip
Makes about 1 cup/240 ml

  • 1 cup/240 ml plain Greek yogurt (whatever amount of fat you like, if any)
  • A large handful of finely chopped fresh herbs (dill, mint, cilantro, chives, parsley, and/or basil all work well)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • A large pinch of kosher salt

Place everything in a bowl and stir together. Done and done. Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.



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