Walking through a farmers market gives you so much inspiration when you are planning a meal. Actually, you don’t have to be planning a meal. Something wonderful happens as you wander from vendor to vendor. Food starts talking to you, not literally, of course. How can you pass perfectly trimmed loin lamb chops. You have to buy them.
From there on the inspiration starts. Glossy purple-black eggplants are further down and you know…baba ganoush. Very red bell peppers come next…roasted of course. Excitement gains as your meal is insight. Off to the market for pita and some stuffed grape leaves and it’s totally complete. It is going to be a Mediterranean dinner.
Mediterranean Grilled Lamb
Lamb chops have so much flavor on their own that little needs to be done to them. I sprinkled them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. I drizzled them with olive oil and topped them with rough chopped fresh oregano, rosemary and thyme and let them sit about 30 minutes. I placed them on a hot grill, herb side up and covered the grill. We like lamb chops rare so I let them cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they had nice grill marks. I turned and let them cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. The fresh herbs imparted a great flavor as they cooked.
You will find many recipes for baba ganoush as it is a common dish served all over the Mediterranean. The spelling will change depending on the country of origin. Feel free to experiment with this recipe to suit your taste. I roast my eggplant on the grill to impart the smokey flavor that is so typical of this dish. The best I have ever tasted was at a lovely Lebanese restaurant chose to the Arch of Triumph in Paris.
- 1 large eggplant
- 8 oz. hommus tahini*
- l garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 t. sesame oil
- 1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 t. salt
- l t. pepper
- a pinch or two cayenne pepper (depending on taste)
- 2 T. chopped parsley
Punch a few holes in the eggplant (this keeps it from tearing while it cooks) and place on a grill, turning often. You will know that it is done when it starts to collapse and the skin is charred all around. Let rest until completely cool and peel. I try to remove as many seeds as possible for a better texture. Drain any juice that has accumulated and mash. Add all the remaining ingredients. (TIP: In most of my recipes that call for garlic and oil, I heat them in the microwave for a few seconds to cook the garlic and infuse the oil. This takes away the sharp taste of raw garlic). Let sit or refrigerate for a while to let flavors mingle.
*This dish is usually made with plain tahini and if you use that… please adjust the amount called for in my recipe. I was not able to buy regular tahini and the refrigerated fresh hommus tahini was a nice alternative that I will used again. It made the dish have a slightly thicker consistency.
- 1 box tabouli ( or 1 cup of fine cracked wheat)
- 1 c. boiling water
- 3 T. olive oil, or to taste
- 2 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- 1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 c. minced fresh mint
- 8 cherry tomatoes, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 small cucumber, finely diced
- salt and pepper to taste
Add boiling water to the tabouli, cover with plastic wrap and let sit until all water is absorbed. Add oil, lemon juice and seasonings, mix and refrigerate to cool. Add all other ingredients, taste for additional seasonings. This can be made well ahead and keep refrigerated. Let come to room temperature when serving.
I completed this meal with stuffed grape leaves and grilled pita. A simple Mediterranean meal for summer that is big on flavor and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.