Batter Licker

April 13, 2010

lamb souvlaki salad with tsatsiki and cumin pita chips

This Greek salad with lamb, tsatsiki (cucumber-yogurt sauce), and oven-baked cumin pita chips is not only healthy, but also the fastest, easiest, most delicious dinner ever – especially if you had a figurative ton of lamb’s meat left over from, oh, I don’t know, last week’s roasted leg of lamb, perhaps?

Last week’s roasted leg of lamb was delicious enough to finish in one sitting, had it not contained enough meat to feed an entire family or had we actually been a family of six and not a mere twosome. But at the meal’s end, I was left with approximately 2/3 of the original amount of lamb. Knowing that I had already sated my lamb cravings for the week, I set about dicing the meat. And then I did something that some of you will find horrific: I froze the diced meat.

Ordinarily, I would never have frozen the cooked meat of a succulently home-roasted leg of lamb (or any other already-cooked meat, really) … except chili. (But real chili takes a very long time, is meant for large batches, and holds up for quite a few months in the freezer – upon defrosting, it tastes even better, in fact.) But due to the outrageous amount of lamb already consumed and massive amount of lamb still to-be-consumed, there were only three options: (1) let it go bad – I hate hate HATE wasting food, so this wasn’t going to happen; (2) toss it out, which would be to admit up front that I wasn’t going to eat lamb every day for the next week – see rationale in (1), above; or (3) freeze it and use it next week.

As you can see, my hands were tied. But a week later, the lamb tasted amazing yet again. And all I had to do was defrost it, toss it in a salad with rough-chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mint, drizzle with healthy, tangy, creamy tsatsiki, and served with crunchy, smoky, homemade, oven-baked cumin pita chips.

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Don’t be intimidated by the fancy-sounding tsatsiki and cumin pita chips. After maybe one minute of prep time, the tsatsiki took 30 seconds flat to make in a food processor. That’s faster than it takes you to find the pre-made stuff in the grocery store – and this homemade sauce tastes better, is fresher, and contains less junk ingredients.

As for the pita chips, I grabbed some old pita bread out of the freezer, defrosted it for 30 seconds in the microwave, chopped it into sixths, drizzled the triangles with olive oil, sprinkled them with cumin, popped them in the oven, waited five-ish minutes and there you have it – cumin pita chips!

Lamb Souvlaki Salad
Serves 2 for dinner, 4 to 6 for a side dish

Just in case you’re not lucky enough to have a bunch of lamb leftover from your most recent spring lamb roast (or in case the idea of having such a vast amount of lamb at your disposal is frightening), I’ve linked to a quick-and-easy (5 minutes under the broiler!) lamb chop recipe below that can serve fewer than an entire family, depending on how many lamb chops you pick up at your butcher. Also, Costco usually has a reasonably priced, good quality 6- or 8-rib rack of lamb that you can chop up and broil per the Whole Foods recipe below. But if you’re not into the lamb, this would still taste delicious with chicken – cook the chicken yourself or grab a rotisserie chicken from your favorite market to speed things up.

4 c. romaine lettuce, chopped
1 c. lamb, cooked and diced (use leftovers from this or halve this super-quick recipe)
1/2 c. cucumber, chopped
1/2 c. tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. mint, chopped
1/4 c. feta, diced or crumbled
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/2 to 1 c. tsatsiki (recipe below)
Cumin pita chips (recipe below)

Mix lettuce, lamb, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, feta, and lemon juice. Chill in refrigerator while you prepare the tsatsiki and cumin pita chip recipes below.

Once ready to serve, toss with tsatsiki (start with 1/2 cup, but add more per your preference – it’s a healthy dressing!). Serve with cumin pita chips on the side or crumbled on top like croutons.

Tsatsiki
Makes approximately 2 cups

10 oz. Greek yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, seeded
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. tahini (pure ground sesame seed paste – optional, but I like it)

Cumin Pita Chips

2 whole round pitas, sliced in sixths
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Preheat oven to 400°F. Scatter the 12 triangular slices of pita bread on a baking sheet, and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with cumin. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn oven to broil, and cook for 1 minute until crisp.

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