Greek Meatballs and Lemon Potatoes Inspired by 'This Rough Magic'

Greek Meatballs and Lemon Potatoes Inspired by 'This Rough Magic'

Monday, 10 January, 2022

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


When Lucy — the heroine of the charming, thrilling novel _This Rough Magic — takes herself on holiday to the island of Corfu to recover from life in London, she fully expects to relax in the sun and crystal blue water of the Ionian Sea. And she does! But she also gets caught up in a perilous mystery that takes her through dusty ancient ruins and into a remote village that’s a throwback to another time.

We like to think the kind villagers who help rescue Lucy look a bit like the ladies above: welcoming, generous, no-nonsense, and gifted in the kitchen.

Greek food is celebrated around the world for its bold flavors: salty feta cheese, tangy lemons, smooth olive oil, luscious Greek yogurt, grassy herbs. Combined with love in the hands of a cook, these simple ingredients are transformed into something that nourishes the spirit as well as the body.

These lemon potatoes (Lemonates Patates me Rigani) and Greek meatballs are easy to make, combine classic Greek flavors (mint! oregano! olive oil!), and will transport you to a seaside taverna on a Greek island.

Should the spirit move you when you take a bite, you might exclaim, Yia Sta Heria Stas, which translates to I kiss your hands, a compliment to the cook’s culinary skills.

potato wedges sprinkled with salt on a wooden table
Photo courtesy of AS Food studio/Shutterstock.

Lemon Potatoes

Serves 6-8. Total time 25 minutes.


  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (10-12 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • garnish: more oregano and lemon


Prep the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400F/210C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Peel the potatoes and cut each lengthwise into 8 wedges. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Roast the potatoes. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet and squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Carefully drizzle the water AROUND (not on) the potatoes. Bake the potatoes until they’re tender when pierced with a fork and have some lovely brown spots, about 35-40 minutes. While they’re in the oven, make the meatballs; see below.

To serve, arrange the potatoes on a platter and sprinkle with more salt, oregano, and lemon juice. Devour immediately.

white plate on a table with meatballs, diced tomatoes, pepper strips, and yogurt sauce
Photo courtesy of Nina Firsova/Shutterstock.

Greek Meatballs

Serves 6-8. Total time 25 minutes.


  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 pound (500g) ground beef or lamb
  • 8 ounces (250g) ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 6 large mint leaves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • garnish: more parsley, Greek yogurt, tomato and cucumber slices, pita, olives


Prep the meatballs. Use a fine grater to grate the onion into a large bowl. Add the ground meats, garlic, parsley, mint, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands until blended and smooth. Make a little well in the meat, put the baking soda in the well, then add the vinegar to the baking soda. It will fizz! Mix the meat again to blend in the baking soda.

Shape the meatballs. Line another baking sheet with baking parchment. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of meat, roll it gently into a ball, and place it on the baking sheet; try not to pack the ball too tightly. Repeat until all the meatballs are lined up like little soldiers.

Cook the meatballs. Place the meatballs in the oven with the potatoes and bake until browned on the outside and cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.

To serve, place on a platter with the Lemon Potoates, raw veggies, Greek yogurt, olives, fresh herbs, and pita or this flat bread.


I shuddered, and drank my coffee, leaning back in my chair to gaze out across pine tops furry with gold towards the sparkling sea, and surrendering myself to the dreamlike feeling that marks the start of a holiday in a place like this when one is tired, and has been transported overnight from the April chill of England to the sunlight of a magic island in the Ionian Sea… The bay itself was hidden by trees, but the view ahead was glorious – a stretch of the calm, shimmering Gulf that lies in the curved arm of Corfu. Away northward, across the dark blue strait, loomed, insubstantial as mist, the ghostly snows of Albania. It was a scene of the most profound and enchanted peace. No sound but the birds; nothing in sight but trees and sky and sun-reflecting sea. — Mary Stewart

This Rough Magic

by Mary Stewart

First published in 1964, this is the dreamy, delightfully melodramatic novel that will make you want to book a trip to Greece as soon as possible. Mary Stewart was the queen of mystery-romance, and all of her gifts are in full effect here. Although it’s set in the golden sun of the Greek island of Corfu, there are Gothic tropes galore. There’s a sprawling, shadowy mansion, a secret cave and underground cellars, a deadly fight on a boat in an epic storm, a missing diamond ring, a possible murder, romance, trickery, and a magical dolphin. {more}

This mystery romance (348 pages) was published in January of 2013 by Chicago Review Press. The book takes you to the island of Corfu in Greece. Melissa read This Rough Magic and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

This Rough Magic


Top image courtesy of Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.

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There's almost too much to love about Greece. Fascinating history that changed Western civilization? Yes. Enchanting beaches and crystal blue water? Check. Amazing food, music, and art, to feed your soul? Definitely.
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