Beef Kofta With Tahini Sauce (and a Cookbook Giveaway)

Beef Kofta With Tahini Sauce |

Back in the fall, a friend of mine posted this article on my Facebook page. The crux of it is that “easy cooking” is for the most part a myth, and that most recipes and cookbooks marketed as quick, foolproof and effortless aren’t actually any of those things.

That’s not to say that there is no such thing as a true 30-minute—or even 15-minute—family meal—but that these are often too basic to be “recipes” worthy of publication in any notable food magazine or cookbook: “Real ‘easy’ cooking, if that’s what you’re after, is far too simple to sustain a magazine and cookbook industry.” No one would be very impressed by a cookbook in which all the recipes started with “one jar of marinara sauce”. Would they?

So when Rose Reisman’s new book Rush Hour Meals hit my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, I was keen to find out whether it would live up to its title. The preface to the book promises that “with the recipes in this book and a little bit of planning, you can get delicious, nutritious meals on the table in 30 minutes or less any day of the week…“.

To put this claim to the test, I chose what seemed like one of the more ambitious recipes in the book: Beef Kofta with Tahini Sauce. The recipe calls for ground beef to be mixed with a mixture of minced onion, garlic, spices, fresh herbs, breadcrumbs and eggs, moulded onto skewers, grilled and baked into a sort-of meatball on a stick, and then served with a homemade tahini sauce (and maybe some diced vegetables and warmed bread, if you read the recipe’s headnote). All of which is meant to happen in 30 minutes—15 minutes for prep and 15 minutes for cooking.

Beef Kofta With Tahini Sauce |

Seems a little lofty, even for an experienced home cook, but I was willing to give it a try. I set the microwave timer to 15 minutes and got to work in earnest.

When the “beep beep beep” sounded at the end of the advertised prep time, I still had my hands deep in a bowl of raw meat. I had yet to form the meat mixture into “ovals,” or prepare the tahini sauce, let alone dice vegetables and warm up bread.

Now, maybe I’m just slow—but really any recipe that involves chopping two kinds of fresh herbs (it took me a few minutes just to locate the darn things in my refrigerator), forming meat into balls, and mixing up a homemade dipping sauce, among several other steps, seems a little elaborate for a Wednesday.

And besides, even if I could accomplish the meatballs and sauce in the 30 minutes promised, what about tossing a salad, roasting a veggie and defrosting some pita? At my pace, that’s easily another 15 minutes right there.

I should say that while these kofta took a little extra time to prepare, they were good. Really good. I didn’t serve them with the Tahini Sauce from the book, but rather with a yogurt-garlic concoction that I had in the fridge, leftover from a weekend salad. And with a really wonderful Quinoa Tabbouleh that I often make using this Ina Garten recipe. Plus some warm pita, spread with butter and sprinkled with za’atar. Forget “rush hour”. This is the kind of stuff I would serve to my favourite weekend dinner guests.

Some of the other “Rush Hour” recipes seem less involved and perhaps a little more Monday-worthy. The Pizza Mac and Cheese Pie calls for a jar of tomato sauce; the Rolled Sole with Pesto and Feta uses store-bought pesto, and there’s a whole chapter on making breakfast for dinner. (“Millennials” are really into eating breakfast for dinner, says Rose.) These all sound a bit more modest; something I might realistically be able to whip up during a 23-minute episode of Paw Patrol. I will save the Beef Kofta for a Saturday.


The publisher has generously agreed to let me share with you the recipe for Beef Kofta with Tahini Sauce, so I’ve reproduced it below. One modification that I found to be a bit of a time-saver—instead of grilling the kofta and then transferring them to a sheet pan, I seared both sides in a hot cast iron pan drizzled with some avocado oil, and then transferred the whole thing to the oven to finish cooking. No sense in dirtying an extra pan if you don’t need to.

Also, you could speed things up by doing some prep work in advance: form the meatballs, stir up the sauce and chop some vegetables.


AND: I have teamed up with a group of great bloggers to give away a copy of Rush Hour Meals to one of our readers. Check out the reviews by Heather at The Tasty Gardener, Cara at Words to Eat By, Anna at Hidden Ponies, Erin at How to Eat, Regina at LeelaLicious, Caroline at Do It All Working Mom, Laureen at Art and the Kitchen, Katrina at Kitchen Trials and Jo-Anna at A Pretty Life in the Suburbs.

To enter the giveaway, follow the instructions below. Good luck!

Note that Whitecap Books, the publishers of Rush Hour Meals, provided me with a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Beef Kofta With Tahini Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
For the kofta:
  • 1½ lb (750 g) lean ground beef, lamb or chicken
  • ½ cup (125 mL) minced onion
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 mL) unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper [I used 1 tsp sea salt and a few grinds of pepper]
For the tahini sauce
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) tahini paste
  • ½ cup (125 mL) diced seeded tomatoes
  • ½ cup (125 mL) diced English cucumber (unpeeled) (optional)
Naan bread or soft roll (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Soak eight 6-inch wooden skewers in water or set aside 8 metal skewers (optional). Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with vegetable oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, cinnamon, eggs, breadcrumbs, mint, cilantro, and salt and pepper (use your hands to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed).
  3. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and form into oval shapes. If using skewers, slide 1 portion lengthwise onto each skewer.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the koftas on each side for 2 minutes, until browned all over.
  5. Transfer the browned kofta to a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or just until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Make the tahini sauce: Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, sesame oil, soy sauce and tahini paste. (If too thick, add a little water to reach the desired consistency.)
  7. Make the garnish: In a bowl, combine the tomatoes and cucumber.
  8. Serve koftas with the tahini sauce and garnish. If using naan bread, grill for 2 minutes per side, until lightly toasted, then cut into triangles and serve alongside koftas.

Giveaway Details

The giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. No purchase necessary to enter. The giveaway will run from Wednesday June 15, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time to Wednesday June 22, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. eastern standard time. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter and contacted via email, and will have 48 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond a new winner will be chosen. The chosen winner must correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. The winner’s name will be displayed on Rafflecopter. Entrants email addresses are collected for the purpose of administering the giveaway only and will never be given out to any third party

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Quinoa Crunch Cereal and a Healthy Cookbook Giveaway

Quinoa Crunch Cereal |

Mornings in my house often start with: “Mama, yogut and ganowa!” That’s the sound of my R-challenged two year old calling out for his breakfast.

He’s looking for yogurt and granola. And not the kind of granola you buy in a box or from a bulk bin, or even in a fancied-up super expensive bag from the farmers’ market. No siree, my kid is looking for mama’s homespun made-from-scratch cereal. Continue Reading →

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(To-Die-For) Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad

Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad |

Food bloggers everywhere are guilty of exaggerating and overstating the quality of their recipes. Scan Pinterest and you will find more than one “best-ever,” “life-changing” or “to-die-for” concoction.

And while I’ve generally avoided such aggrandizement of my own food, I’m going to make an exception for this salad.

I hope this means you will trust me on this one. I don’t throw around terms like “to-die-for” too often. Particularly not when it comes to food. And never when that food involves leafy greens.

But this salad has truly revolutionized salad-eating for me. And for Kiwi too. We eat this salad like it’s our last meal: in silence, savouring each bite, and then literally licking the plate clean until not a trace of dressing remains. It is THAT good.

Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad |

I never expected it to be THAT good, I will be honest. I set out to make a mayo-free caesar salad dressing (for my egg-allergic son); I forgot to buy romaine lettuce; and I unintentionally went a little heavy-handed with the anchovies. And from these circumstances, this salad was born. A happy, mouth-watering accident.

Since this is blog about feeding a family, I should be frank and say that my kids will NOT touch this. I did convince the Bean, a caesar-salad lover, to take a bite at least. She promptly spat it back it me, rinsed her mouth with milk, and declared it “disgusting,” her new favourite word. It’s the raw kale, I think—too grassy for a youngster’s palate. You can substitute romaine for the kale to make a more kid-appealing (if more conventional) version of this salad. Or you can do like I do and just save it all for the adults.

Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad |

A couple of warnings before you dive right into the recipe. First: stock up on winter-fresh something (mints? gum?), particularly if you intend to serve this to guests. And avoid eating it before a business meeting, a first date or a French kiss, unless your colleagues or partner eat it too. Because while this salad is uber-delicious on the way in, it’s not quite as wonderful on the way out. You get my drift. Finally: leave out the anchovies at your peril. Those little buggers are not for everyone—I get it. But this salad is not deserving of it’s “to-die-for” moniker without them.

Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad |

The croutons are completely optional and/or they can be replaced with store-bought ones to make things a bit easier on you. But the zaatar croutons I’ve pictured here do take the salad to the very next level. Try them at least once, if you can. Zaatar is a mild Middle Eastern spice and seed mix that you can purchase at most well-stocked grocery stores.

Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad |

5.0 from 2 reviews
(To-Die-For) Greek Yogurt Kale Caesar Salad
Prep time
Total time
I really do think this salad is worth dying for. Make it.
Serves: 6
For the salad and dressing:
  • 3 small or 2 large garlic cloves
  • 3 anchovy filets (I buy the ones packed in little jars of oil)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup full-fat (2% or higher) Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup plus 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus additional for sprinkling on top, if you like that)
  • 1 large bunch of kale (Tuscan or green), destemmed and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
For the zaatar croutons
  • 1 whole wheat flatbread or pita (the ones without the pocket, preferably)
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons zaatar
  • Salt
For the croutons:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the pita into approximately ¾ inch pieces. Toss them with 1½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the zaatar.
  3. Dump them onto the lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until the bread is crispy and golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
For the salad:
  1. Combine all the dressing ingredients (reserving 1½ tablespoons of olive oil) in a food processor or small powerful blender. (I use my personal-sized Vitamix, which is PERFECT for making salad dressings!)
  2. Blend until the dressing is very creamy. Transfer to a small container.
  3. Put the chopped kale in a large salad bowl. Add the reserved olive oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Then massage the heck out of the kale (squeezing it between your fingers) until it softens considerably. This will take a few minutes. It's an awesome way to get out your frustrations.
  4. Dress the kale, adding the dressing a tablespoon at a time until it's evenly covered and dressed to your liking. I recommend erring on the side of more dressing, rather than less. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the extra Parmesan cheese and croutons just before you are ready to serve the salad.


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Penne with Sausage, Caramelized Mushrooms and Winter Greens

Penne with Sausage, Caramelized Mushrooms and Winter Greens |

I hope you will forgive my lengthy radio silence. I have been mired in renovation “problems”. Ask any contractor who steps through my door and he (invariably he) will tell you “um, there is a problem”. If I had a dime for every time I heard “Sarah, we have a problem,” I’d have paid for my renovation and then some.

There were the floors (wrong colour), the glass (first time broken, second time too big), the carpet (too big to fit through the door), the wallpaper (damaged in shipping), the vent hood (too long!) and the countertops (too short). Oh, and a chronic problem with the LED dimmers. God help me. Continue Reading →

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