Hidden Liver Kofta with Tahini Sauce and Sumac Tomato-Cucumber Salad

These delicious beef kofta are packed with onion, parsley, garlic, and dried spices making for an ultra flavorful base perfect for hiding a secret super healthy ingredient: liver! Add a classic tahini sauce and a sumac spiked tomato-cucumber salad and you have a delicious meal that is filling but light, herbaceous and fresh, and full of umami. This meal just hits allllll the notes.

Kofta is a type of spiced meatball or kebab with different versions across the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. In addition to onion, garlic, and parsley, I use lots of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt to make these little flavor bombs. All that seasoning makes these hidden liver kofta a tasty way to get more organ meats into your diet. In addition to the numerous health benefits of liver, it is a very economical choice – which I think is something we are all more concerned about these days. The liver actually enhances and deepens the beef flavor without a wiff of ‘liver’ for anyone who, like me, tends to hate the stuff straight up.

Originally when testing this recipe I tried a pound of beef to a half a pound of chicken liver ratio. That made for some very wet kofta which were pretty hard to shape (although they were delicious). Therefore this recipe calls for a quarter pound of chicken livers per pound of beef. Feel free to add the extra liver keeping in mind they are messier to work with – note that kofta do not contain breadcrumbs so there is nothing to soak up all that liver. If you choose to go with half a pound of liver, it is easier to put the kofta in the freezer overnight and then thaw in the fridge before cooking. By the way, check out these Hidden Liver Meatballs with Red Wine Tomato Sauce over Bone Broth Parmesan Polenta if you want another hidden liver recipe – just delish.

With all the bold flavors in the kofta, a classic tahini sauce is a perfect pairing. The tahini sauce is simple to make using just lemon juice, garlic, tahini, salt, and enough water to thin to a pourable consistency. Literally nothing goes better with these kofta! The sauce is savory, a bit acidic, and smooth and creamy.

A fresh sumac tomato-cucumber salad rounds this out as a complete meal. Sumac is a spice with a lemony flavor that adds another dimension beyond the lemon juice alone. It is slightly floral and super bright. Ever buy a bunch of herbs and only use half? No problem here! Half the bunch goes in the kofta and the other half gets roughly chopped and tossed in with the sumac tomato-cucumber salad. One and done let me tell ya’.

You can freeze the extra uncooked or cooked kofta (although uncooked is better to avoid overcooking when you reheat them). The tomato and cucumber salad could not be easier to make and the tahini sauce will keep for a week in the fridge. While it is simple and keeps well, the best thing about this meal is how flavorful it is! It is one of those meals that does not get boring as you eat it because each component has it’s own thing going on BUT when you get a bite of everything together they just jive. Plus if you are following the Paleo, Whole 30, or Keto diets, this meal works for them all! Win-win anyone? 😋


Hidden Liver Kofta with Tahini Sauce and Sumac Tomato-Cucumber Salad

Servings: makes 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/4 pound of organic chicken livers (about 2 livers)
  • 1 small onion, diced (about a scant cup)
  • 1/3 cup of parsley, chopped and packed
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. salt (I used smoked)
  • tahini sauce (recipe follows)
  • sumac tomato-cucumber salad (recipe follows)

How-to:

  1. Trim any sinew from the livers and rinse them under cold water. Toss livers and garlic in a food processor and pulse until liver is nearly pureed.
  2. Add the parsley and onion to the processor. Pulse until parsley and onion are finely chopped and integrated into the liver mixture.
  3. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes, pepper, and salt to the liver mixture and pulse until incorporated.
  4. Pour/scoop the liver mixture over the ground beef. Using your hands, mix until the liver is evenly distributed.
  5. Form into 16 balls (see note). I like to separate the mix into four equal pieces and then separate those into fourths and roll them into balls. This helps make them all evenly sized.
  6. Either cook em’ up now or freeze at this stage for later use (in this case, thaw before cooking).
  7. To cook them, heat a skillet over medium until hot. Add some cooking oil and then the kofta. Brown on each side (only 1-2 minutes a side). Check the temp, they should be 160 degrees F. Generally they will not be fully cooked at this juncture, so put them into a 350 degree oven at 5-8 minute intervals until they are cooked to a medium doneness or 160 degrees F in the middle of the thickest kofta.
  8. Serve with tahini sauce and sumac tomato-cucumber salad.

Notes:

  • If you feel so inclined, you can use half a pound of liver instead of a quarter pound, but note that the mixture will be very wet and a bit hard to work with. If you go this route, add another tsp. of cumin and coriander and a few more pinches of all other spices. Also, freeze the kofta (after forming them) on some parchment paper on a sheet pan until completely frozen. Then you can place them in baggies for storage. Thaw before using, then proceed to cook them according to step 6 above. The freezing helps the mixture solidify and stay together better when you cook it.
  • Kofta also come in kabob form which is grilled – yum! I have no grill so unfortunately am unable to test the method. Go for it if you want! In this case soak some skewers for at least an hour (so they do not set fire) and then pack 2 meatballs worth onto each skewer, flattening the meat into a hot dog like shape. Then grill until medium doneness.
  • I suggest going with medium temp cook to keep your kofta tender – the liver can get tough if cooked till well-done.

Classic Tahini Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. water (see note)

How-to:

  1. Add all ingredients to a processor or blender and process until completely smooth.
  2. Add more water until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Notes:

  • The amount of water will vary based on how runny your tahini is. Mine is thick like a raw almond butter, so I needed more water. If you are unsure, start with less water and add it, a tablespoon at a time, until the desired viscosity is reached.
  • Tahini sauce will keep for one week in the fridge.

Sumac Tomato-Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chopped cucumber
  • 4 cups of chopped tomato
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1 tsp. sumac
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt, to taste

How-to:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and season to taste.

Note: The salt will release liquid from the veg, so it is best to prep this salad right before serving or the lemony flavor will dilute a bit over time.

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