Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lamb Kebobs and Quinoa Tabouli

Traditionally tabouli (or tabouleh) is almost all vegetables with very little fine bulgar.  Since I don't have any bulgar in the apartment, but I do have quinoa, I decided to substitute quinoa for the bulgar and ramp up the amount of quinoa a bit to make the salad a little heartier without messing with the traditional flavors of tabouli.  I love the freshness of the tabouli, so I didn't want to mess with that at all.  I just wanted to make it into more of an entree salad and less of a side dish.  Plus I really love the taste of quinoa, so I wanted to make sure that it didn't get lost in all of the vegetables.

Generally I design my meals around the protein, but this time the quinoa tabouli came first and then I had to decide what protein to serve with the tabouli.  Kebabs seemed like a natural choice.  Luckily I had some ground lamb in the freezer that I have been talking about using for a week or two now.  So I threw together some ingredients for the kebabs with the help of my food processor and we had kebabs.  I think the flavor of these kebabs is fantastic.  You get the hint of spice from the cayenne, the warmth of the allspice and cinnamon, and plenty of fresh herb flavors from the parsley and cilantro.  Don't chop the pine nuts too finely because they provide some much needed texture.  The pita keeps the kebabs very moist, but can make them feel a little mushy.  You want to sear the outsides of the kebabs so they have some nice crust and texture to them for some contrast to the moist, soft interiors of the kebabs.

Recipes after the jump!

Lamb Kebabs

For sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
For kefta (lamb meatballs)
1 piece flatbread or pita, torn into small pieces
1/2 large red  onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lb. ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
3 tbsp canola oil

Combine sauce ingredients in a small non-reactive mixing bowl.  Season to taste with s&p.  Set aside.

Soak pita in water for 10 minutes.  While bread is soaking, combine onion, parsley, cilantro, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped.  Squeeze all of the water out of the bread and add to a large mixing bowl, along with the onion mixture.  Add lamb, salt, allspice, cayenne, cinnamon, black pepper, and pine nuts.  Mix with your hands until well blended.  Form lamb mixture into kebabs that are roughly 4-inches long by 1-inch wide and 1-inch tall.  

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add canola oil.  Gently add kebabs.  Cook kebabs until all four sides are golden brown, about 6 minutes (add 2-3 more minutes if you want your kebabs well-done all the way through).  Remove kebabs from the skillet and allow to cool 2 minutes before serving.

Serve with yogurt sauce for dipping.

Quinoa Tabouli

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup Roma tomato, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 English cucumber, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) 
 1 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup evoo

Cook quinoa according to package instuctions and set aside.  Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. 

In a large bowl, mix quinoa, tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, lemon juice, cayenne pepper (if desired), and s&p to taste.  Stir in parsley, mint, and evoo.  Taste, adjusting seasoning by adding more evoo, lemon juice, and/or s&p if desired.  Refrigerate tabouli until chilled, stirring occasionally to allow the flavors to combine.

Serve tabouli chilled.

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