Its not everyday that I make Mediterranean. So read carefully on how I created a simple dinner with a world of flavors – all of it straight from the Mediterranean.
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!
My husband loves pickled sweet peppers, that seemed pretty easy as all of the work was being done by a glassful of white vinegar!
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.
A 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. Eggplants 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.
I 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.
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.
I 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. I 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.
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. After all, a Bengali does not make Ruffled Aubergine Salad, Chicken Kabobs and Couscous Arugula Salad everyday.