Mediterranean Feast

10 03 2008

The boyfriend and I decided to cook dinner for his parents yesterday, so of course I wanted to impress them just a teeny-tiny bit.  However, since we were to be cooking at their house, I didn’t want to put on a whole, messy production, so I needed to find something relatively simple but delicious.  We decided on a Mediterranean themed meal, which ended up not taking long at all, but I thought it turned out quite well.

We had a few appetizers, including chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, some fresh vegetable side dishes, like homemade tabbouleh, and feasted on the balsamic lamb kabobs on rosemary skewers. 

Chorizo-Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

  • 1 lb bacon (I like the applewood smoked bacon)
  • smoked chorizo sausage
  • 12 fresh dates
  1. Slice the dates half-way lengthwise and remove the pits.  Cut the chorizo in half lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again.  Cut the chorizo into pieces that will fit into the dates and stuff them.
  2. Cut the bacon strips in half.  Wrap the bacon around the dates.
  3. In a small skillet over med-high heat, cook until the bacon is crispy.  Serve immeditately.

 Serves 4-6.  Total prep time: 20 minutes.  Calories: 193 Total Fat: 16.4 g Saturated Fat: 6.1 g Cholesterol: 25 mg Sodium: 313.5 mg Carbohydrates: 6.4 g Fiber: .6 g Protein: 5.2 g

Oven Grilled Vegetables

  • 3 mini eggplants (or 1 large)
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice vegetables lengthwise into thin slices.  Place in bowl with remaining ingredients.  Mix well and let marinate for 15 – 30 minutes.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Lay marinated vegetables in one layer on sheet and broil under high heat until veggies are softened and browned.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.   Total prep time: 40 minute.  Calrories: 56.6  Total Fat: 3.5 g Saturated Fat: .5 g  Cholesterol: 0  Sodium: 99.4 mg  Carbohydrates: 6 g  Fiber: 1.9 g  Protein: .9 g

Tabbouleh

  • 1/2 c. dry bulgur wheat
  • Juice from 1 1/2 lemons (separate 1 Tbsp)
  • 3/4 c. boiling water
  • 3 c. finely chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 scallions finely chopped, both white and green parts
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, finely chopped
  • 2  Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl, combine dry bulgur, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and boiling water.  Mix well, then let sit for 15-20 minutes.  Taste bulgur – if not soft enough, add a bit more boiling water until softened.
  2. While the bulgur is softening, in a serving bowl, combine the parsley, mint, scallions,  and tomatoes.
  3. Drain excess water from the bulgur and add to serving bowl.
  4. Add the olive oil, the remaining lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then taste.  Add what you think is missing – usually more lemon juice or oil. 

Serves 4-6.  Total prep time: 30 minutes  Calories: 105.6  Total Fat: 5 g  Saturated Fat: .7 g Cholesterol: 0 Sodium: 121 mg  Carbohydrates: 14.5 g  Fiber: 4 g  Protein: 2.9 g

Balsamic Marinated Lamb on Rosemary Skewers

  • 1 1/2 lbs. lamb loin, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Several sprigs of rosemary to use as skewers
  1. Combine all ingredients, except rosemary, in bowl, mix well, and let marinate 30 minutes.  (Obviously, the longer you marinate the meat, the more intense the flavor will be.  I wanted just a hint of vinegar, so I marinated for a short time.)
  2. Thread the lamb onto the rosemary by pushing the thick, twig-like end into the meat.  To aid this process, I first pushed a toothpick through the lamb to create a path, then I pushed it onto the rosemary.
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the skewered lamb on the sheet and broil until browned on all sides, but still pink in the middle.

Serves 4-6.  Total prep time: 40 minutes  Calories: 375.7  Total Fat: 25.8 g  Saturated Fat: 12 g  Cholesterol: 80 mg  Sodium: 262.2 mg  Carbohydrates: 2.1 g  Fiber: .08 g  Protein: 19.6 g

 Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 8-oz container plain yogurt
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. minced mint leaves

Combine ingredients and mix well.  Serve with lamb skewers.

Serves 4-6.  Total prep time: 5 minutes  Calories: 25  Total fat: 1.2 g  Saturated Fat: .8g  Cholesterol: 5 mg  Sodium: 17.5 mg  Carbohydrates: 2.2 g  Fiber: .07 g  Protein: 1.3 g

The whole meal took about an hour and 15 minutes to make, especially with the help of the boyfriend, my own personal sous-chef.  It turned out pretty well, and definitely something I would make again.

I found this meal to be especially good because I ventured out into the snow the day before to the public market and got amazing deals on fresh produce.  I had never been in the winter before, but it was well worth the cold and snow.  Especially when I got my favorite guava cheese bread from the Hispanic bakery.  I may have to figure out how to make those someday…

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