Lamb Meatballs with Minty Pesto

lambmbpesto2

Here’s our first guest chef post courtesy of Ally’s mom! How this hasn’t happened before is mind-boggling because she is an amazing cook. Ally was super lucky to grow up with a mom who made homemade dinner essentially every night of the week. As a typical ungrateful teenager, Ally used to not appreciate this as much as she does now, instead being jealous of her friends who got to order pizza for dinner. But we definitely appreciate it now! Ally’s mom has a repertoire of her classic dinners that they ate growing up, that her kids salivate over now. But she also has started experimenting and trying new recipes, now that she doesn’t have four whiny kids to cook for every night.

lambmbpesto

Last night we were definitely the grateful beneficiaries of one of her new attempts. Hopefully it becomes a family classic because it was so delicious! The recipe originates with Bon Appetit magazine; she made very slight changes to that recipe. The meatballs are flavorful and juicy, and the pesto is an interesting change, with the minty flavor and a sharp bite of garlic. This dinner is also a nice option for a dinner party as it can be scaled up easily, it can be pre-assembled up until the point of rolling out and baking the meatballs, and it looks pretty!

Lamb Meatballs with Minty Pesto

(Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine)
Ingredients: 
  • Meatballs
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
    • 1 lb ground lamb
  • Pesto
    • 1 cup fresh parsley
    • 1 cup fresh mint
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 3 tbsp raisins
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Greek yogurt for serving
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Whisk the egg together with all of the other meatball ingredients, except the lamb. Once combined, work the lamb in with your hands.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor. Blitz until herbs are finely chopped and the sauce is well-combined. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
  4. Using your hands, roll the meat into golf-ball-sized meatballs. [This should yield ~20 small meatballs.] Place the meatballs on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until browned.
  6. Serve meatballs with pesto and a dollop of greek yogurt. Rice or couscous is a nice side to go with these meatballs.
Serves 3-4

Mint & Feta Topped Eggplant

mintfetaeggplant2.jpg

After making Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad last week, we had some leftover mint.  By “some leftover mint,” I really mean, “Did this package of mint grow exponentially more mint?” I feel like it’s pretty much impossible to use all the mint in a package and even more impossible to use all the mint that most people grow. We didn’t want to waste any of the fresh herbs, so I was exploring Pinterest this weekend for a dish that would put these ingredients to good use. After awhile I found this recipe that not only required minimal shopping, using up the mint and feta, but also a mostly hands-off and healthy dinner for tonight! We were really happy with how this turned out. It’s light, but filling and flavorful! Thanks Pinterest (and Live Eat Learn) 🙂

mintfetaeggplant

Mint & Feta Topped Eggplant

(Adapted from Live Eat Learn blog)
Ingredients:
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 heaping tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice eggplant in half. Slice through the flesh on the diagonal, creating a cross-hatch pattern. Don’t slice all the way through; stop before reaching the skin.
  3. Brush the eggplant with 1 tbsp of olive oil and top with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper. Roast for 35 minutes in the oven.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining olive oil, mint, garlic, and lemon juice.
  5. After the 35 minutes, slide out the eggplant and brush the mint mixture on top. Return to the oven for just another minute or two to warm.
  6. Serve topped with the chopped feta and sprinkled with Aleppo pepper.
Serves 2

Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad

summersalad

I, like most other people I know, love a juicy summer watermelon. It is just so refreshing and delicious! I remember that my grandfather always used to (and probably still does) put salt on his watermelon, which I thought was absolutely crazy. I thought that salt would ruin the sweet taste. Through the years, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people like salty touch with their watermelon. If so many people like salted watermelon, there’s got to be something to it right? And then I realized that the salty watermelon thing was taken to the next step with feta and watermelon salads. This combination is all over Pinterest and summer restaurant menus. And logically, I understand that salt balances sweet and brings out brighter flavors. Yet for some reason, I still never tried it. Well that mistake is over. I didn’t know what I was missing.

The watermelon is still the star of this salad, but it doesn’t taste like just a fruit salad with some feta on top. It’s a little more savory than expected. The mint flavor is strong and makes it nice and herbaceous. Don’t worry about the vinegar on the cucumbers either – it’s not overwhelming at all. Overall a great salad for summer! 😎

summersalad2
Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1 cucumber
  • ~1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 5 cups watermelon, chopped
  • 3/4 cups feta cheese, diced
  • ~10 leaves fresh mint, chopped
  • Black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Peel the cucumber, then slice it length-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice into half-moons.
  2. Marinate the cucumbers in the white wine vinegar, topped with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper, for at least an hour.
  3. Chop the watermelon into bite-sized chunks. Chop the feta a little smaller, more of a dice (can you dice something that’s not a vegetable??). Tear or chop the mint leaves. Combine all of these in a large bowl.
  4. Drain the vinegar from the cucumbers. Add the cucumbers in with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
  5. Add a little more black pepper to taste.
  6. Best served immediately.
Serves 6-8

Mint Chocolate Bars

mintchocbars.jpg

I had a great month of May in terms of a rotation I was doing for school. I loved it and learned so much! On my last day, I wanted to bring a little treat for the staff who taught me and worked with me for the past few weeks. I couldn’t decide what to make, but ruled out cookies because the hospital frequently provides trays of cookies that are pretty darn good. And I’m generally exhausted during the middle of the week, so I wanted to make something pretty simple. I came up with the idea for these, essentially extrapolating from a thought of Rice Krispy Treats! These are so easy to make and are delicious!! You can’t go wrong. You could easily throw these together for some sort of last minute get-together or other situation.

(Also. I forgot to take pictures. So all you get is a quick shot of the 2 bites I saved for Selim.)

Mint Chocolate Bars

Ingredients: 
  • 1 standard sized box of Mint Oreos
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows (5 cups)
  • 20 pieces Andes candy, chopped
Instructions: 
  1. Place the Oreos in a large plastic bag and smash with a mallet. Don’t smash them too finely.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
  3. Once butter is melted, add the marshmallows and cover. Keep on low heat.
  4. Remove the lid every 3-4 minutes and stir. The marshmallows will melt and eventually combine with the butter.
  5. Once the butter and marshmallows are melted and combined, pour in the crushed Oreos. Working quickly, stir to coat the cookies in the marshmallow/butter. Remove from heat.
  6. Lastly, add the chopped Andes candy. They will quickly begin to melt. Stir ASAP to get the candy spread throughout.
  7. Scoop the mixture into a glass baking dish (8×8). Spread out evenly.
  8. Allow to cool entirely. Once cooled, slice with a sharp knife.
  9. Try not to eat them all before you share with friends!
Makes ~25-30 bars, obviously depending on how large you cut them.

Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette

raspvin2.jpg

Once upon a time, I used to buy salad dressing in stores. But a few years ago, I realized how easy it is to make a vinaigrette at home. The greatest part of it for me is that I’m not committed to a single salad dressing until I finish the bottle. One night I’ll use a balsamic vinegar base and the next night I can go Asian with a rice wine vinegar base.  There are also some health benefits to making your own vinaigrette. (I’m not judging you for your store-bought salad dressing, promise. Even as I’m extolling the virtues of making my own, I still have a bottle of one of my faves – Trader Joe’s Sweet Onion & Bacon Vinaigrette – in the fridge. And don’t even get me started on their Champagne Vinaigrette – yummmmm! I’m just pointing out another good reason to try making your own!) Salad dressings are notorious for having significant amounts of salt and sugar. When you make your own, you control those levels! And obviously, you’re not adding any preservatives or anything to make it shelf stable. Since I’ve been playing around with making my own dressings, I’ve learned (or maybe just confirmed) one thing. I love vinegar! Standard vinaigrette recipes call for 3-4 parts oil to one part vinegar – I generally use less oil for each part vinegar. I hope you enjoy it my way! We used this raspberry mint vinaigrette tonight over a shaved vegetable salad, and it was delicious!

Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette

Ingredients: 
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 5 large mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Puree the raspberries.
  2. Whisk together the pureed berries with the rest of the ingredients. {It’s that easy.}
Makes ~3/4 cup of dressing

raspvin