Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dinner Inspiration

Sometimes inspiration for a dinner seems to come from the most unlikely place. I had leftover chickpeas that I had soaked and cooked over the weekend to be used for Monday night's Meatless Monday dinner of Chana Masala. I decided that those leftover chickpeas needed to be processed into a hummus and what goes better with hummus than pita chips? I made homemade pita bread which I started yesterday and then the rest of the menu evolved around hummus and pita breads. I went to Greece for inspiration and made Lamb Kebabs which I served in warm pita breads. I also made a Greek salad to go with the kebabs.

It was absolutely delicious with lots of flavor without a lot of heat. The hummus made with chickpeas that I lovingly soaked and cooked was by far the best I have ever made. The pita bread was a little bit of a disappointment to me...I've made pita breads from scratch years ago but I can't remember which recipe I used since it was pre-MacGourmet days. I used my Bread Bible cookbook for this batch which was rather complicated. I started it yesterday afternoon and finished baking them this afternoon. The dough was really soft and sticky this afternoon and they stuck frequently to my counter as I tried to shape and roll them out and some didn't puff up the way a pita should. They were still good, especially the ones I cut into wedges

and fried for pita chips but I know there is lots of room for improvement. Gerry thought they were fine, but I have had the real thing in Greece and these left much to be desired. I will post a recipe for Pita bread when I have found one that I am happy with.

The rest of the dinner was fine with the Greek Salad being superb. My butcher today gave me some cubed leg of lamb for the kebabs which I think were fine, but there must be a better cut of lamb for this.

Adapted from Gourmet Meals in Minutes Cookbook
Hummus with Pita Chips (Serves 8)

2 cups chickpeas, cooked, (drained and rinsed if using canned)
3 tablespoons tahini
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, or as needed
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 pieces pita bread, cut into 6 pieces

Puree the chickpeas, tahini, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor, adding water to thin the mixture as necessary.

Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice and garlic, as needed. Refrigerate the hummus until needed.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute 6 pita wedges for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown at the edges and crisp.

Repeat with remaining olive oil and pita wedges. Serve warm with the hummus.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Marinated Lamb Kebabs (Serves 4-6)
1 pound plain yogurt (regular or lowfat), I used nonfat Greek
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for brushing grill
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
5 tablespoons fresh whole rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds lamb
1 red onion

Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the lamb, making sure it is covered with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals. Spread the coals in one tight layer on the grill.

Cut the lamb in 1 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 20 cubes.

Cut the red onion in 8 pieces and separate each piece into 3 or 4 sections. Loosely thread 3 or 4 pieces of lamb onto skewers alternately with sections of onion. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb cubes with salt and pepper. Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times, until the lamb is medium-rare.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Greek Salad (Serves 6)

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large-diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large-diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half-rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil


Place the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

My rating overall, (except for the pita breads):

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