Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Mediterranean Meal

Sunday, my friend Jenette brought bundles of fresh oregano to church for anyone to take. God bless her! What a lovely specimen--after removing from her packaging and putting in a cup of water, it perked up and stands tall!

So I wanted to think of recipes to use fresh oregano... and what better than Souvlaki? Over a nice simple salad along with a side of hummus and pita bread seemed like just the thing. Only, would picky Mr. W eat it?

I began with boneless pork chops that were on sale and cubed up the meat. There were only three, but it cut up to a good amount, put in a plastic zip-top bag with this marinade:

Souvlaki Marinade

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 strips lemon zest, chopped fine

The pork with marinade went into the refrigerator for about 5 hours.

While hummus is never a difficult thing to make, I find that tahini, while not so difficult to find, ends up sitting in my refrigerator for eons. So I've developed a recipe--adapted from a recipe I found on natural peanut butter (the kind with just peanuts and salt--no sugar), instead. Here's the recipe:

Perfect Hummus

2 cans chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
3 cloves garlic (or to taste), peeled and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
juice of 1/2 lemon
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
extra paprika for garnish

1. Put chickpeas, peanut butter, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and 1 tsp paprika in a bowl and puree using a hand blender. (You could also do this in a food processor or blender.) Add reserved chickpea liquid as needed to produce a smooth puree.

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Some folks like more lemon juice. When I make this to accompany a highly seasoned meal, I like a little less garlic.

3. Spread hummus puree onto a dinner or pie plate; dust with paprika and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Serve with vegetable dippers, pita or lavash bread.

When Mr. W came home, I put together a very simple salad of chopped iceburg and leaf lettuce and crumbled feta cheese; I suppose it's a stretch to call that a salad. I made a dressing that was almost exactly the same as the marinade:

Lemon Vinaigrette

Mix in a glass or plastic bowl:
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lemon

Whisk mixture constantly as you slowly pour in:
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Then the marinated pork cubes went into my broiler. A purist should probably skewer the cubes and grill over gas or charcoal, but for the sake of time, the broiler was just the thing at my house. After about 5 minutes I turned all the cubes over, and cooked another 5 minutes for a beautiful, browned finish.

To serve, I poured the lemon vinaigrette over the salad and arranged the cooked pork cubes over the top of the salad.

Normally a meal of this kind would also include tatziki sauce, a yogurt-and-cucumber sauce. I didn't make that. But to approximate the creamy texture I just thinned a little sour cream with water. Worked just right.

The souvlaki, salad and hummus was just wonderful! I encourage anyone to try it.

God Bless,
Mrs. W

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