Thursday, June 24, 2010

Greek Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki and Tomato/Cucumber Salad

Last night I wanted to break out of the usual fish, steak, pasta/pizza routine. Chicken can be so, well...boring. So I thought, why not lamb? Rack of lamb can be really expensive, but lamb shoulder - not too bad. And perfect for kabobs. And then the menu started forming in my head. Kabobs with lamb and red onion, tzatziki sauce for dipping...and some pitas, of course. And a refreshing tomato and cucumber salad on the side.

After looking at many, many Greek marinade recipes online I came up with this one. and I must say, the fresh oregano made the difference. I usually just use dried oregano, but since this marinade only had a few ingredients, I figured I should go for the fresh version. It smelled so good!

juice of 2 lemons
4-6 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil (depending on how much lemon juice you have - the oil should be double that amount)
2 Tbl. fresh oregano, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 lb. of lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut into square slices for kabobs
wooden skewers

Mix all ingredients except oil and lamb in a bowl or tupperware.

Slowly add the oil while whisking, so the mixture emulsifies.

Add the lamb and put the lid on, or plastic wrap if you're using a bowl, and shake just a bit to get the lamb covered by the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2, but up to 8 hours.

Put the lamb onto skewers with pieces of red onion in between, and grill for about 5-6 minutes on each side.

Tzatziki sauce:
1 7-oz. container Greek yogurt (I used 2%, but use whichever fat content you like)
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbl. lemon juice
2 Tbl. fresh dill, chopped
3-4 Tbl. cucumber, skinned, seeded, and minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. I think it's important to use Greek yogurt for this sauce because, a. it's a Greek sauce, and b. the texture is so much richer and thicker than regular yogurt.

And last, the salad:
2 large tomatoes, preferably beefsteak
2/3 of a large cucumber
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbl. white wine vinegar
big pinch salt
freshly ground pepper

First I should make a note - 2/3 of a large cucumber sounds weird, but what happened was that I bought one big cucumber and used 2/3 of it for the salad and the other third for the tzatziki. So that's where the measurement came from.

Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into a medium/large dice. When cutting the tomatoes, try to get rid of the seeds and guts. Combine in bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Heat up some mini pitas in the oven at 350 for 3-4 minutes, and there's your Greek feast! The nice thing about this meal is that 90% of it can be done in advance, and left in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat. The lamb, tzatziki, and salad all get more flavorful the longer they sit in the fridge - so all you have to do once you're ready to eat is cook the kabobs and heat up the pita bread. Opa!

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