I've done it now. I'm officially Greek. Not just by marriage, although that seems to satisfy other Greeks that we meet knowing that living with a Greek has it's own special set of milestones. However, once you have Tzatziki sauce under your fingernails, garlic embedded in your skin, ground lamb on your elbows, and lemon and mint taking over your kitchen, YOU ARE GREEK.
I mean this in the BEST possible way. It is wonderful to smell all the fresh herbs and tart pungent flavors of the Greek cuisine. They're alive, colorful, and texturally so varied that it's hard to know if you should use a fork, or just replace every utensil in your silverware drawer with a giant pita. I opted for plates and napkins, but it's totally up to you!
I started the adventure with a recipe from Cooking Light; so fun and easy that I'm sure I will make this again and again. (The text of the recipe is below. If you want it fresh from the web, click here.) I changed a couple things, but overall, this is pretty fool proof. (If you're a fool you have a lot of other problems but making this dish won't be one of them.)
Start with FRESH ingredients. I cannot overstate how important this is for the full effect. Next, you will need lots of napkins, and a sink full of hot, soapy water to keep your hands clean in between steps.
Okay, a couple of tips. When you're prepping the thyme, don't be tempted to take a shortcut and just trim and mince. It is really better if you use just the leaves and only the pliable, green stems adjacent to them. Stay AWAY from the stalks. If your herbs are fresh, it's easy to slide your fingers down the stalk, opposite of the growth angle, and just slide it until the leaves comes off. For the mint, it's easy. Fold and cut into small pieces. Be sure and WASH both herbs. And no store bought lemon juice. JUICE IT YOURSELF. (Skip this step and you'll have a war with those sitting around the table.)
Also, they really DO cook in only 7 minutes plus the 3 minutes under the broiler. Don't do it any longer. They cook a bit more after you take them out.
(Serve with poppy seed french bread slices, toasted under the broiler with olive oil, and fresh pepper and cracked sea salt.)
Mini Greek-style Meat Loaves with Arugula Salad
Kate Parham, Cooking Light
10 ounce ground sirloin
5 ounces lean ground lamb
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used Panko and crushed them with a rolling pin until they were almost dusty)
1/3 cup grated red onion
4 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used red pepper flakes. This was TASTY!)
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray (I did NOT spray the tins. They came out fine)
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
2 ounces reduced-fat feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby arugula leaves
1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) diagonally sliced seeded peeled cucumber (I added about a cup of grape tomatoes, halved. Made it very pretty.)
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon mint, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, allspice, and next 3 ingredients (through egg). Press meat mixture into 8 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 7 minutes. Turn broiler to high; broil 3 minutes.
3. Combine yogurt, feta, 1 tablespoon juice, 1 teaspoon mint, and 1 teaspoon thyme in a mini food processor; pulse 10 times to combine.
4. Combine 1 tablespoon juice, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a bowl; stir. Add arugula and cucumber; toss.
MyRecipes is working with Let's Move!, the Partnership for a Healthier America, and USDA's MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to a trove of recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.
Photos copyright Camine Pappas, 2013
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.