We have to admit that we were never big fans of Greek or Mediterranean food. Perhaps it’s the taste of the gamy lamb or the fact that they put feta cheese in everything! Well, one day we had dinner with our friend Joyce at Open Sesame Mediterranean Grill on 2nd Street in Long Beach and I think that was our turning point with this cuisine. Something about the flavors of the perfectly cooked lamb and chicken with the basmati rice and hummus really won us over. Since then, we’ve made other attempts to eat Mediterranean food at nearby restaurants and have particularly enjoyed the Greek’s gyros and pita with tzatziki sauce.
It only seemed fitting for us to make Greek food for ourselves at home since we had a change of heart. I came upon this recipe by Sunny Anderson when I was watching her show Cooking For Real on Food Network. She makes everything look so easy to make so I figured I’d try it myself – exactly the way she did it! It was a 3-part element to completing this meal, which included making the lamb kabobs, shepherd’s salad, and tzatziki sauce. It was a bit time consuming, but it was a fun and educational experience as it was my first time preparing a Greek meal! Thanks for the recipe, Sunny Anderson!
Greek & Mediterranean food, for the most part, is rather healthy. They use a lot of vegetables and lean meats in their cooking, so you can expect to gain a lot of health benefits from eating Mediterranean food! To start off, I prepared the Shepherd's Salad, which consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, and parsley.
I diced up the vegetables and added 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 4 tbsp olive oil, and some salt and pepper. I tossed everything together and allowed it to marinate for at least an hour before serving.
For awhile, I wasn't sure if the white sauce in Greek food was made with mayo or not. Thankfully, it's not because it's actually yogurt! This classic sauce is called Tzatziki, and is made with 2 cups Greek strained yogurt, 1/2 cucumber, 2 tsp hot sauce, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. I also added fresh dill! This is blended in a food processor to obtain the smooth consistency. The sauce is best after it sits in the fridge for at least an hour to get incorporated.
Finally, it's time for the lamb kabobs! Ground lamb is not easy to find at a local supermarket, so I had to go to Whole Foods to get this. I combined 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb, 2 scallions, 2 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves, 1 tsp rosemary leaves, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, and 1/2 tsp thyme. That's a lot of herbs and seasonings! It definitely goes well with lamb.
I formed 2-inch long ovals with the ground lamb mixture and skewered them on these wooden skewers (which I soaked for 30 minutes to prevent it burning on the grill). These are grilled until slightly charred on the outside. Depending on your preference, you can cook it medium-rare which is about 3 minutes on each side, or longer if you like it less pink.
The whole meal comes together when you take a pita bread and stuff it with one of the Lamb Kabobs and add the Shepherd's Salad and Tzatziki Sauce. Whew, what an accomplishment! And if you're one of those people who still cannot stand the taste of lamb, just change out the ground lamb with beef or turkey! I'm sure you'll still enjoy the vegetables and yogurt sauce in this recipe.
To see Sunny Anderson’s Recipe, click here: Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce and Shepherd’s Salad
You may also enjoy these previous blog posts:
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
Sunny Anderson’s Apple and Onion-Stuffed Pork Chops with Orange Gravy