Walking through a farmers market can give you inspiration when you are planning a meal. Actually you don’t have to be thinking about planning a meal, something wonderful just happens as you wander from vendor to vendor. Food starts talking to you, not literally, of course. I’m sure it has happened to you. How can you pass perfectly trimmed loin lamb chops and not buy them.
From there on the inspiration continues. Glossy purple-black eggplants are further down the row and you think about baba ganoush. Very red bell peppers come next and roasted peppers come to mind. Excitement gains as your meal plan starts coming together. Off to the market for pita bread, some stuffed grape leaves and the idea for a meal is complete. It is going to be a Mediterranean Grilled Lamb 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 them 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 close 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 of 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.
This is the perfect summertime meal that won’t heat up your kitchen as most of the meal can be prepared outside on the grill. I completed this meal with stuffed grape leaves and grilled pita bread. It is a simple meal that is loaded with big Mediterranean flavors.