Summer in the Med

July 19, 2010

In case you missed the epic post in which my husband offered to prepare dinner, go here.

I must say, my husband isn’t a lily-livered sissy. He picked a recipe that was completely out of his comfort zone. He didn’t just grab a steak, bake a few potatoes and slice up tomatoes (although that would have been just fine, truly). But no.  My husband loves a challenge.

Plus, I’d told him that I’d be blogging about this little enterprise, so I think he chose this recipe out of sheer pride. He didn’t want you readers to sniff and say, “Amateur night, dude. Easy-peasy.”  My husband, bless his competitive little soul, wanted to make something swoon-worthy.

Hubs stuck with Weber’s Way to Grill and he’s a smart man. Jamie Purviance knows what he’s doing; I haven’t had a bummer recipe out of this cookbook after an entire year of using it regularly. That’s saying a lot.

It doesn’t hurt that the cookbook has bucketloads of gorgeous pictures to accompany the recipes. As much as I admire Mark Bittman and Ruth Reichl, I miss the jaw-dropping fun of a good photo in their cookbooks. I’m all about food porn–nothing inspires me to try a recipe more than a sexy picture.

The picture of the dish he chose–Lamb Meatballs with Chopped Salad and Minted Yogurt–was sexxxx-y. I took one look at it and got pretty dang excited. A herky might even have been involved.

We went over the recipe together and I explained a few mysterious ingredients to him like cumin and Italian parsley and Greek yogurt, and I crossed items already in possession off the grocery list. And then he was off.

We don’t really get exotic ground meats in our neighborhood supermarket, so hubs had to make a special trip to the butcher for ground lamb. Actually, I have to tell you about the butcher, because every time I drive by the place, I get the giggles.  Smack in the middle of a sleepy little side street is a gi-normous red sign with black lettering that reads: Your Butcher, Frank.

Now that store’s been around a while and I have zero idea if Frank is still there or if he ever existed, but it’s a hilarious moniker for a store. I always wonder how many times a day someone goes in there and says, “Hey, is there really a butcher named Frank working here?” Do teenagers prank call the place constantly, demanding to speak to “My butcher, Frank?”  Obviously, I am amused by minutiae, but it tickles me.

Hubs got busily to work and I sat at the kitchen table with my laptop, answering any questions he had. And yes, there were lots of them. But I didn’t mind; he looked adorable clanging around my kitchen, pawing through the refrigerator for ingredients.

The only thing he hadn’t quite counted on was how much time it takes to prepare a full meal, particularly if you don’t cook with any regularity. He allowed for two hours, but with constant interruptions from curious children (who ran through the house, spied him in the kitchen and asked, dumbfounded, “Daddy, what are you doing in the kitchen?”), he was scrambling for time at the end.

So I pitched in and rolled meatballs with him. “Dang, you are fast,” he said, shaking his head at my meatball finesse. Hey, what can I say. This girl knows her way around a meatball.

Verdict? Home-run, folks.

The lamb was juicy and tender, the salad was crisp, the bread was pillowy soft, and the yogurt sauce added just the right tang to bring out the spices in the meat. My man did good.

Disclaimer: he did get out of doing the dishes, because he had volleyball league to scuttle off to. But next time, he assures me, he won’t cook on League Night. But I do believe that man strutted out the door, he was so happy with himself.

Successful as his maiden voyage into dinner preparation was, however, I don’t expect a regular appearance of Chef Hubs. When all was said and done, we figured that the planning, shopping, making and cleaning up of dinner clocked in at around 4 hours total. That’s a gen-u-ine pain in the ass, isn’t it?

I wouldn’t want to do it regularly, either.

But I’m proud of my guy, and he deserves his accolades. So feel free to fling the roses down.

Lamb Meatballs with Chopped Salad and Minted Yogurt

from Weber’s Way to Grill

serves 6


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 English cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

extra-virgin olive oil


1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4-6 pieces naan, for serving

In a large, non-reactive bowl, whisk the oil, lemon zest and garlic. Add in the rest of the salad ingredients and gently toss with dressing.

In a medium bowl, using your hands, gently mix the meatball ingredients. do not overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough. Make about 24 meatballs. Thread 4 meatballs onto each skewer. Lightly brush with oil.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat.

In a small bowl mix the yogurt and lemon juice. Fold in the mint and season with salt.

Brush cooking grates clean. Grill the meatballs over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until they have browned but are still slightly pink on the inside, 4 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally. During the last 30 seconds of grilling time, heat the naan over direct heat.

Cut the naan into pieces large enough to hold 3-4 meatballs. Top with a generous spoonful of sauce and some salad.

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