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Turkish Meatballs and vegetables casserole; Izmir Kofte, my way

This is a popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!) that can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain white rice or a slice of crusty bread. This is Izmir Kofte my way, as I like to add some more vegetables. You can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

I usually double the recipe and freeze some, as it freezes very well.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time :30 minutes             Cooking time : 45 -50 minutes

For the kofte (meatballs):

450 gr /1 lb ground lamb or beef, or a mixture (I like to use 10 % fat)
1 medium onion, grated
2 slices of stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
1 egg, beaten
1 bunch finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

A bowl of water for kneading kofte / wetting hands

And the rest:

450 gr / 1 lb medium potatoes, sliced like thin apple quadrants
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, coarsely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
240 ml / 1 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the kofte ingredients except the meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles a soft dough. With wet hands take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a large finger shape about 1 inch thick. Continue until all the mixture is used. The meatballs can now be covered and stored in the fridge until required.

In a large oven dish, create layers with the vegetables and the meatballs. Add the chopped tomatoes, water and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Bake in the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Serve hot, with plain rice or some crusty bread by the side.

My cookery book Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, covers over 90 authentic Turkish recipes, including delicious casseroles like this and many more, with my personal stories and stunning photos. Signed copies now 25 % Off and  can be ordered here at this link if interested, it is delivered worldwide.

Afiyet Olsun,


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36 Responses to Turkish Meatballs and vegetables casserole; Izmir Kofte, my way

  1. Jane Starling June 2, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I have only just discovered your blog & your FB page, & I am in total awe! The food, the background, everything is just amazing!

    • Ozlem June 3, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Many thanks Jane, so glad you are enjoying the blog and the recipes!

      • Nell October 17, 2020 at 10:51 pm #

        G’day Özlem,
        What might be the quantity of dry parsley instead of fresh parsley? COVID lockdown has me thinking about using pantry items instead of ducking out for the one missing ingredient for this mouth-watering köfte!
        Love your recipes and evocative stories around them so much I have artfully suggested my partner buys your cookbook for me as a Christmas gift. (He is, after all, a happy beneficiary of your delicious recipes).
        Nell in Melbourne, Australia.

        • Ozlem Warren October 19, 2020 at 10:31 am #

          Merhaba Nell,

          Many thanks for your kind note; you can use 1 tablespoon dry parsley here, absolutely with you to use the pantry items in hand, hope you enjoy this delicious kofte!

          Sincere thanks for your interest for my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, too; it is a love letter to my homeland, and indeed with stunning photos, over 90 authentic recipes and stories, do hope your wish is heard : ) Signed copies now 25 % off at this link too

          Afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  2. Elena August 17, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    Selam Ozlem,
    wonderfull food! We just made it yesterday for friend´s team event, they loved it 🙂 Tesekkur ederim for sharing your recipes and experiences!
    Grettings from Slovakia!

    • Ozlem August 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      Merhaba Elena:)

      So glad to hear you all enjoyed Izmir kofte, greetings to you from Istanbul!

      • irina March 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

        merhaba Ozlem hanim. Ellerinize saglik. Cok lezzetli oldu.

        • Ozlem Warren March 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

          Merhaba Irina, cok tesekkur ederim mesajina 🙂 Cok sevindim, sizin ellerinize saglik ve afiyet olsun : ) Ozlem

  3. Cecilia April 6, 2014 at 6:48 am #

    Merhaba, how and for how long should I cook them if I cook them on the stovetop?

    • Ozlem Warren April 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Merhaba Cecilia, if cooking on stove top, I would use a wide heavy pan and cook the casserole covered, at medium to low heat. You can start with medium heat until it starts bubbling and turn to heat to low. I would imagine 40 – 45 minutes should be enough. Hope you enjoy it, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  4. Christy July 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    How much would I use if I used packaged breadcrumbs?

    • Ozlem Warren July 22, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

      Merhaba Christy, thank you for your note – about 1 cup should be sufficent, afiyet olsun!

  5. Lorelei Sebranek August 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Merhaba Ozlem! I grew up in Izmir and this is one of my favorite dishs! I have a question. Im in Texas and am wondering what I can substitute the long green finger like peppers for here in America? I’ve been using Anaheims but really do miss the others. Any suggestions? Teşekkür ederim!

    • Ozlem Warren August 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

      Merhaba Lorelei, many thanks for your note. I lived in Texas too, and they have that wonderful hash chilies, similar to our long pointy peppers, though a little spicy. That would work or any pointy peppers. If not, the bell peppers are good too, I used them many times. Afiyet olsun!

  6. Nedret August 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I just made izmir kofte for 33 children of ages 2-6. Mostly fussy eaters but today they ate their lunch. Followed the Recipe precisely ( no time for ooops) and worked! I wish i could put the pictures of the children as they cleaned their plates:)

    • Ozlem Warren August 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

      Merhaba Sevgili Nedret, thank you so much for this wonderful feedback; such happy news, especially children enjoying this meatball casserole with vegetables, so glad! A favorite with my children too, and I feel good serving it as it is wholesome as well as delicious. Afiyet Olsun!

  7. janice gardner October 2, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    oh these pictures make me very hungry yummy

    • Ozlem Warren October 5, 2015 at 10:25 am #

      Thank you Janice, hope you enjoy making these delicious Izmir kofte, Selamlar, Ozlem

  8. Christi June 30, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

    Just made this for my 1 year old.. And family of course. He loves his potatoes so this should be a big hit. Perfect meal for a mom to make that is easy and satisfying for the whole family. Thanks for this recipe!

    • Ozlem Warren July 2, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

      Merhaba dear Christi, many thanks for your kind note; this Turkish meatball casserole is a huge hit with my family and children too; so glad it worked for you too, being also easy and wholesome. You are most welcome, afiyet olsun! Ozlem

  9. Deborah Groom July 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

    Do you freeze it before or after cooking?. Thanks so much!

    • Ozlem Warren July 2, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

      Merhaba Deborah, I would freeze after cooking, freezes really well and makes a wonderful surprise! You are most welcome, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  10. Lucy Burany December 25, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

    Hi Ozlem
    I made this wonderful dish Izmir kofte I had friends to come visit me ,they do not know about Turkish food I made it rice to go with it and they all loved this food ,I want to say I am so happy I found your website and all your delicious foods recipes .I can not wait to try your cakes and baklavas.I want to say thank you I am learning new recipes from you. Love Lucy

    • Ozlem Warren December 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

      Merhaba dear Lucy, many thanks for your kind note; I am so glad your Izmir Kofte was enjoyed by all and you’re enjoying my recipes, no better compliment! Hope you can give the desserts a go too – Revani and baklava amongst my favorites! Best wishes for the New Year, Ozlem x

  11. Nesrin Tavsanli February 26, 2019 at 12:32 pm #

    Merhaba Ozlem,

    I made this dish tonight and it came out so very well! I made a double batch in a large baking tray but only used 1 egg in the kofte mix which was perfect.


    • Ozlem Warren February 27, 2019 at 11:01 am #

      Merhaba dear Nesrin,

      Many thanks for your kind note – so glad you enjoyed this dish – a family favourite with us too; Afiyet Olsun!

      Just to let you know that this dish and many more authentic recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – signed copies are available at this link, and delivered worldwide promptly if interested :

      Sevgiler, Ozlem

  12. Cindy Aslaner September 24, 2019 at 11:36 pm #


    I made this for dinner tonight and it smelled and tasted like we were visiting Turkey again. Delightfully delicious and so easy to make. I used half beef and half lamb. The lamb gave it a great taste. I also added a zucchini because I had it.

    I can’t wait to try some more of your recipes. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

    Cindy Aslaner

    • Ozlem Warren September 25, 2019 at 8:58 am #

      Merhaba dear Cindy,

      What a lovely note to get – made my day! So glad you enjoyed this delicious Turkish meatballs and veg casserole and it brought happy memories of Turkey – I share them in the hope that the recipes inspire and bring happy memories, so I am delighted. Adding any leftover veg here is a great idea; I added diced aubergines / eggplants to this casserole too and it worked great.

      Just to let you know, my cookery book Ozlem’s Turkish Table covers over 90 authentic Turkish recipes, including delicious casseroles like this and many more, with my personal stories and stunning photos. Signed copies can be ordered here at this link if interested, it is delivered worldwide:

      Afiyet Olsun,

  13. Tracie October 19, 2020 at 2:35 pm #

    Found this recipe today and made it immediately! Absolutely delicious. I subbed garlic and onion granules and dried parsley and soaked the bread in milk. Def on the list of ‘do this again’!,,,

    • Ozlem Warren October 20, 2020 at 1:27 pm #

      Merhaba Tracie, so delighted to hear you enjoyed this delicious Turkish meatball casserole, one of the most popular dishes at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – afiyet olsun, thank you for your note,

  14. Janina February 15, 2021 at 11:54 am #

    Simply Delicious…. and now I am desperate to get your book. Living in lockdown in İstanbul has tempted me to try new ways and recipes and you have inspired me but can I buy your book here as very very expensive shipping cost? Ironic question but worth the question.

    • Ozlem Warren February 15, 2021 at 3:54 pm #

      Merhaba dear Janina, many thanks for your kind note – so glad you enjoyed my recipe. Thank you for your interest for my cookery book too. Fethiye Times has copies of my book, and owner, dear friend Lyn Ward kindly mails within Turkey. I have just emailed you about how you can get it, hope it helps, Ozlem

  15. Allie O January 15, 2023 at 9:55 pm #

    So happy to find your Kofte recipe on YouTube, although it played much too fast and I had to keep stopping and replaying it to follow the recipe, it was delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren January 16, 2023 at 3:01 pm #

      I am glad you enjoyed it, Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem

  16. John Campbell January 17, 2023 at 2:13 am #

    Dear Ozlem

    I was so pleased to receive your cookbook for Christmas this year here in San Francisco.

    I started by using a deep oven dish. This didn’t seem to have the possibility of getting hot enough to cook potatoes in 40 minutes the cookbook mentions 40-45 minutes—your post here says 50?). The meatballs are quite soft and seem to disintegrate a bit as they are quite soft.

    I decanted into a larger flatter dish. I also covered it with foil and increased the temperature to 400 for a time.

    Should the meatballs be browned first? How about bringing the mixture to a boil before putting in the oven? Seems like the time allotted isn’t sufficient to cook them.

    Thank you for your guidance!

    • Ozlem Warren January 17, 2023 at 4:07 pm #

      Merhaba dear John,

      Thank you so much for getting my book, I hope you enjoy cooking from it.

      And many thanks for having a go at this delicious meatball casserole – you are right, a oven dish helps so that they all have the space to cook. I slice the potatoes in thin apple quadrants and it seems suffice to cook. I also use 10% fat for the meat and always keep the meatball mixture in the fridge so that they have a chance to bind well. When shaping, I firmly shape them into meatballs (wetting your hand in water with a drizzle of oil helps to shape the meatballs to keep intact.) I don’t brown the veg or meatballs first, they all cook together – every oven is a little different and mine is on the hot side – please do cook a little longer if yours need to or increase the temperature. My sincere thanks for your note and having a go, I hope you enjoy it, Afiyet olsun, Ozlem

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