Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mediterranean Night

Its not everyday that I make Mediterranean. IMG_7936So read carefully on how I created a simple dinner with a world of flavors – all of it straight from the Mediterranean.
IMG_7936 I began by getting my basics right and listing all the ingredients for my grocery bag. Planning for a gourmet menu is a highly technical culinary skill not many have!
IMG_7932 My husband loves pickled sweet peppers, that seemed pretty easy as all of the work was being done by a glassful of white vinegar!
IMG_7960 Next was to marinade the meat – I planned on making Chicken Kabobs with some Greek-inspired spices. I mixed freshly squeezed lemon juice with ground ginger-garlic, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to get a marinade ready for my boneless chicken pieces. For flavor, I used dried oregano, a native of the Mediterranean region.  
IMG_7965A marinating time of about 5-6 hours turned the pieces of chicken into succulent bites full of flavor once they hit the broiler.

Eggplants are abundant in Mediterranean cuisine. For this free-style eggplant salad, which I’d like to call Ruffled Aubergine Salad, I used some very thinly sliced eggplants. IMG_7941Eggplants drink up lots of oil. In order to avoid that, I brushed them with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and tossed them in a hot pan.
IMG_7942I let them curl at the edges and get a good color on them. Once my eggplants were ready, I let them cool and prepared the dressing, the key ingredient for which was parsley.
IMG_7946 Parsley is like the Miss Congeniality of the Mediterranean world. Its mild flavor is essential to many salads and garnishes. I used the Italian flat leaf variety.
IMG_7947I tossed finely chopped parsley, lemon juice, EVOO, fresh cracked pepper and very little salt and mixed it all with the eggplant making a quick, free-style relish to go with my Chicken Kebobs and my main which was also a salad or sorts – the Couscous Arugula Salad.  
Do you know why couscous is named what it is. Because it  is a food so good, they named it twice! This salad is a great getaway from serving rice or pasta or noodles for dinner. Its a versatile dish, easy enough for a weeknight dinner and elegant enough to serve when you have guests over.

For the couscous salad too, I kept it simple with some chopped white onion, lots of arugula, some crumbled feta cheese, EVOO, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Oh yes, and I added a touch of exotica with a handful of kalamata olives. I used the Israeli couscous, even after cooking it in hot water, it had an al dente feel to it. A right toss of these ingredients and you have a star.IMG_7952IMG_7953 IMG_7955 IMG_7959IMG_7958I did not add any fresh herbs to the Couscous Arugula Salad as I did not want to want to overwhelm the feta and olives with any dominating flavor. Plus the peppery taste of the arugula has to be enjoyed on its own.
IMG_7969 This Mediterranean dinner looked so good, I did not know whether to have a picture taken with it or eat it. Without much deliberation, I decided on the latter. IMG_7972 After all, a Bengali does not make Ruffled Aubergine Salad, Chicken Kabobs and Couscous Arugula Salad everyday.


Sanyukta Gour(Bayes) said...

the platter looks so delicious...simply mouthwatering...drooling over n over...awesome awesome clicks..

. R.A.J.A . said...

Our to-be-experimented list is growing and we're always short of time :-s

PreeOccupied said...

@Sanyukta, thanks much! :-)

@Raja, try the couscous salad. Its such a no-hassle thing to toss into a bowl. Even you can do it, without the help of the missus. :-P

. R.A.J.A . said...

"Even you can do it"

I prepared my own shaahi chicken dish a few weekends ago. That was exactly 10 months after I had had cooked last. I still have the magic :-p :-p

Saswati said...

Pree what a spread my actually make us drool!!

hsvs said...

You are absolutely amazing, darling! Hope you are having a wonderful day :-)

Lynnylu said...

A lovely meal with all sorts of wonderful flavors going on. The kebabs are beautiful and the couscous salad looks divine. Thanks for stopping by my blog. This meal would have been perfect for Weekend Herb Blogging.

PreeOccupied said...

@Raja, your magic is only in your sarcasm. Don't disrupt that with your shahi cooking!

@Saswati, I do recommend trying the couscous salad. Pretty much with any vegetable/green of your choice. Just have lemon, EVOO, salt and pepper in it.

@Hsvs, thank you for revealing who you are. I was almost feeling giddy that you are a secret admirer.

@Lynnylu, thanks for your lovely comment. I will look out for your other events.