Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a large cast-iron skillet or roasting pan in the oven while it preheats.
Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 thinly sliced onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 60 seconds. Let cool slightly in a large bowl.
Pulse 1 cup of fresh parsley leaves and 1⁄2 cup of fresh mint leaves in a food processor, add the onion mixture, and pulse until smooth; return to the bowl. Add 1 1⁄2 pounds of ground turkey, 1⁄2 cup of dried bread crumbs, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Divide the mixture into 2-inch round meatballs.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the meatballs in a single layer and roast for 18 to 20 minutes, turning over after 8 minutes, until they reach 165°F on a meat thermometer.
Serve the warm meatballs with a dollop of cucumber yogurt sauce, a warm pita, and pickled onions.
Using a cheesecloth or sturdy paper towel, gently squeeze out water from 1⁄2 cup of freshly grated cucumber. Combine in a large bowl with 1 cup of full-fat plain Greek yogurt, a large pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh mint or dill, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest. Stir well and serve immediately.
TIPS: If the cucumber is not squeezed, the sauce will be too watery. I like Greek yogurt because of its thickness, but you can use other types of yogurt; just make sure it is plain, unsweetened yogurt.
In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, and 1 star anise (optional) to a boil.
Put 1 thinly sliced red onion in mason jar or other heatproof container. Pour the pickling liquid over the onion, making sure all of the onion is covered with the liquid. Let it cool on the counter for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate. Once the onions begin to turn pink, after about 30 minutes, they are ready to eat. Keep stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
TIP: The thinner the onion is sliced, the faster it will pickle.