Recipes for marinated grilled lamb kebabs are served with plenty of pita, fresh tomatoes, a healthy scoop of tzatziki, and a gluten-free tabbouleh with quinoa in place of the bulgur.
This morning started early with a bright-eyed boy climbing over my prone form at 5:00 a.m. just as the sun was lighting up the sky. I stared at the clock, shrugged, and squeezed his little body close to mine, unable to send him away while I pretended that I shouldn’t wake up and get a few things done early. I prefer the dark quiet of midnight to the wistful morning light.
Summer is here. The windows are open, for better or worse, and the days are long. They begin early and end late.
I often feel as though I’m in a state of perpetual motion running between science camps, swim practice, baseball games and soccer. I over-schedule ambitious activities that I believe to be important and worth carving out the hours to accomplish. In the same breath I make time for plenty of nothing. There are books to be read, after all, and a large kiddie pool waits in the backyard. There are movies to watch, bugs to catch, and bikes to ride around the neighborhood again and again.
Some mornings there are eggs, and other mornings it’s berries and yogurt shoved in hands as we hurry towards our day. Towels blow in the breeze in the backyard as they dry on the line. Weeds are pulled. Small white clover blossoms dot the yard, their fragrant aroma filling the nose as you walk through the grass disturbing them.
The beauty of this meal is in the planning. It can be prepared ahead, tucked into the refrigerator, and pulled out for some last-minute grilling before we head off on a family bike ride or off to the next summer thing. The grill is lit, drinks are poured as squeals ring through the yard of children chasing each other back and forth.
The savory and warm spices in the lamb work well with the green tabbouleh flavors and the creaminess of the tzatziki, but you can eat this any way you like. Serve it with or without pita, with large leaves of lettuce to roll them in, or over the top of a large salad.
The leftovers taste just as good in the following days, which means lunches and weekend meals live for this. It works well for parties for the same reason. No complaints when you make more than the guests can possibly eat, and everything is set out and grilled as they lounge in the yard with a drink and conversation. Welcome to summer.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 lemons, juiced and zested
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 3-4 pounds lamb leg meat, cubed into 1″ pieces
- In a zip-top bag or shallow container, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, oregano, thyme, garlic, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir to mix. Add in the lamb pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat the grill. Remove the meat from the marinade and thread onto water-soaked bamboo skewers or stainless skewers.
- Grill on a medium-high heat grill, rotating the skewers for even cooking, about 2 minutes per side, 8-10 minutes total.
- 1 large English cucumber
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 4 mint leaves, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Peel the cucumber and cut lengthwise in half and then halve each again to create spears. Remove the seeds and discard.
- Mince the cucumber into small 2-centimeter or smaller pieces. Place the chopped cucumber in a cloth or paper towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
- Combine the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, mint, and salt. Stir to combine thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- 2 bunches parsley, stems discarded (about 3 packed cups)
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced into small cubes
- 2 green onions, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- Add the parsley and mint to a food processor. Pulse to finely mince the parsley and mint being careful not to pulse too far. You want to be able to still see the pieces of the herbs.
- Add the herbs to a large bowl and combine with the quinoa, diced tomatoes, green onions, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and allspice. Stir and taste. Add more salt or lemon juice if needed.