Shawarma Meatball Wrap with Pickled Cherries

We may have not just saved the world from an alien invasion, but hey, we all deserve some shawarma, right?* This wrap takes wonderful Middle Eastern flavors, puts them in a meatball, and wraps them all up in a pita.
Shawarma is a mass of meat (chicken, beef, pork, goat) that is flavored with warm, Middle Eastern spices and cooked over a fire spit.  It is then shaved into thin slices and devoured with tahini, a yogurt sauce, or hummus.  I was inspired when I saw someone take this dish and turn it into a meatball.  I love a good Italian meatball sub with cheese and tomato sauce, so I figured I would also love a wrap with  meatballs and yogurt sauce.  And I was right. And I am figuring you all will love this too.

I topped my meatball wraps with caramelized onions and some pickled cherries.  I have always wanted to experiment with pickling, and remembering an old episode of The Chew where Michael Symon explained how to pickle, I felt inspired.  I thought some juicy, sweet, and slightly vinegary cherries would compliment the flavor of the shawarma well.  Some pickled peaches or nectarines would also work well in this wrap- it’s a perfect time to take an opportunity to enjoy your summer fruits in a new way if you are new to pickling like me!

(* I consider this vague enough not to be a spoiler, and besides I feel like everyone and their brother have seen this movie already… right?  Or am I a bad person ruining movies when you just wanted to hear about food?)

SHAWARMA MEATBALL WRAP WITH PICKLED CHERRIES
Shawarma Meatballs Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
Pickled Cherries Adapted Slightly from Michael Symon
INGREDIENTS
For the Pickled Cherries:
20 cherries
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cinnamon stickFor the Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
Pinch of salt

For the Meatballs:
1 pound ground lamb (beef or turkey)
1/4 red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
Pinch of salt and pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

For Serving:
3-4 pitas
Caramelized onions
Goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

For the Pickled Cherries:

Prick each cherry several times with a fork and place in a glass jar.

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, orange zest, and the cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Pour over cherries, until they are completely covered. Cool completely at room temperature. Chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

For the Yogurt Sauce:

In a small bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, garlic, cumin, and salt. Chill for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.

For the Meatballs:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl combine ground lamb, red onion, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, lemon zest, Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Stir together until just combined. Coat a baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Working with about 1 tablespoon a mixture at a time, form into small meatballs. Place meatballs on baking sheet. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until cooked through.

For Serving:

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Warm pitas,about 1-2 minutes per side. Spread yogurt sauce on pita bread. Stuff with meatballs and top with chopped pickled cherries, caramelized onions, and goat cheese if desired.

Serves 3-4.

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