I know I'm going to burn out on Greek food soon, but I bought all of this great stuff and I have people I owe big time for caring for Harryboy and Skipper the Guppy this past month. So I invited them to family dinner night--Greek style.
Now maybe that negates the "family" part of the dinner but we love a party, so I decided it's counting. The family will be part of the group of revelers, so there.
I've never made souvlaki before. Turns out, souvlaki is just a glorified kebab. Chicken is the most family friendly of meats, so I marinated it overnight in olive oil, garlic, lemon, pepper and fresh oregano. If you use fish--we had swordfish souvlaki in Greece and it was delish--don't marinate it more than an hour. Lemon juice+fish=ceviche. And lemon juice+fish+long marination=mush.
Thread the chicken onto skewers with peppers and onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill away. I did omit the onion from the kids' skewers and I also picked off the little green flecks of orgegano on the chicken. Kids.
On the side, I served tabbouleh, which I love. I pretty much knew the girls were going to rate tabbouleh a 0.0--it's swimming in green stuff and has onions in it and bulgur is a homely, suspicious-looking grain. So my expectations were low but I gave it the good college try.
I like Ina Garten's recipe for tabbouleh--it's very heavy on lemon and herbs and vegetables, just like tabbouleh should be. It annoys the heck out of me when restaurants serve tabbouleh that's mainly just bulgur with a couple of chunks of cucumber/tomato in it. Cheap little rottweilers! Tabbouleh is about the fresh stuff, not the inexpensive wheat.
Here's Ina's recipe:
Chicken with Tabbouleh (I left out the chicken)
from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup bulgur
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 whole (2 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and medium-diced
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a heat-proof bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgur wheat. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the bulgur to stand at room temperature for about an hour.
Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet and rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove chicken meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into medium dice and add to the tabbouleh. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Season to taste and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The flavors will improve as it sits.
There is no substitute for freshly squeezed lemon juice. (Ina's note, not mine).
A few little things from me: If you don't have scallions on hand, use red onion, but only half the amount. The color is pretty. Some people complain that Ina's recipes are too salty. These people are morons. Ina specifically calls for kosher salt in her recipes and she means it. Regular table salt is WAY more potent than kosher salt. So buy some! You'll discover that you really like it, honest. Definitely make this a few hours ahead; it tastes better. Right before you serve it, taste for salt/pepper. Sometimes, when salads chill, they absorb the seasonings and you find that they need more oomph.
I rounded out our party menu with warm pita, hummus (Sabra brand, the only kind my kids will eat), olives and chunks of feta on tomatoes. I found these beautiful heirloom guys at Whole Foods.
And yes this was the perfect opportunity to monkey around with that eggplant dip. But that's a whole nother story in itself.
Miss D. dashed my hopes early in the day by gagging at the smell of the parsley and mint I was chopping.
"That smell! Ooooooh, I can't stand it!" she yelled, with her usual dramatic flair. And then she hurled herself out the door into the backyard.
Her sister followed of course, one hand plugging her nose. Kids.
The guests deemed my dinner delicious.
The girls wouldn't touch it. They wouldn't even abide by the two bite rule. Even when I re-plated the chicken after removing all evidence of the tabbouleh from their sight. Not one morsel of that carefully de-greened, de-onioned chicken passed their lips. I offered ketchup (hey, I was desperate). No dice.
"I know, Mama, since we didn't eat dinner, we don't get anything else to eat tonight," Daphne cheerfully announced as I took away their plates.
Pretty sad when your kid is relieved at the prospect of starvation.
Greek Dinner: 0
But on to the eggplant dip.