Friday, June 07, 2013

A Trip Around the Mediterranean

Beef kebabs with shakshouky, tzatziki, and tomato and cucumber salad, on pita.
It seems traditional to drag out the grill on Memorial Day. While many people are content with burgers and hot dogs, I think if Mr Minx is going to go to all of the trouble to fiddle with charcoal and have a dirty grill to clean afterward, the food had better be a bit more interesting than the usual.

I've been enamored of ground meat kebabs recently and decided to make two types - lamb and beef - based on recipes from Silvena Rowe's Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean. Pictured above are the beef kebabs, flavored with cumin, paprika, allspice, and cinnamon, (this recipe, minus the herbs, fruits, and nuts, plus 1/2 teaspoon cumin). The lamb kebabs were based on this recipe, minus the cumin and pistachios.

To accompany the kebabs, I made four sauces/dips that I like to make, and it struck me that they came from different countries along the Mediterranean Sea. There was Romesco from Spain, Tzatziki from Greece, and Shakshouky and Hummus, popular in various North African countries. I also chopped up a seeded hydroponic cucumber and a pint of cherry tomatoes, dressed it with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar and called it a salad, and there was feta cheese, too.

The recipe for shakshouky is linked above, and there will be a post next week on the hummus. The other two sauce recipes follow.

Romesco Sauce

I cheat when I make Romesco. Rather than roasting the vegetables myself, I use jarred roasted red peppers and canned fire roasted tomatoes. Here's the recipe I usually use. I didn't have almonds in the house, so I used 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe's almond butter instead. Worked like a charm.

1 small onion, chopped
2 jarred roasted red bell peppers, torn into chunks
1 15-oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup blanched slivered almonds
1 ounce white bread, toasted, crust removed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish sweet paprika)
olive oil

Sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned. Place in blender or food processor with the next seven ingredients and purée, drizzling in olive oil until a thick sauce is formed. Add salt to taste.

Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Very Simple Tzatziki

1 hydroponic cucumber
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
kosher salt

Cut the cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds. Puree the flesh in a food processor, then dump it into a tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Put the cucumber back into the food pro with the yogurt and garlic and puree until well combined. Season with salt.

Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

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