Monday, May 21, 2007

Greek salad and mixed grill

I don't know how authentically greek this actually is, but it is at least greek-esque, what with all the feta and olives. My friend Krista made this salad at her house a couple weeks ago and it was so delicious that I tried to duplicate it at home. She didn't put any chickpeas in hers but I thought it would be an acceptable deviation. Your best bet is just to get her to make it for you, but this one I made last night worked out pretty well.

I got a bag of mixed baby greens from the DeKalb Market and dumped them in a big salad bowl. I sliced grape tomatoes in half, using about 1/2 of a pint container. Cut half a hothouse cucumber into quarters lengthwise and then sliced the quarters into 1/2" chunks. Sliced in half a small red onion, then cut paper thin slices from the halves. Crumbled up about 1/2 a block of feta cheese--I'm not sure how much it actually was. Couldn't have been more than 1/3 cup. Pitted and sliced 10 Kalamata olives. Drained and rinsed very well a can of chickpeas and set aside about 3/4 of the can to use on the salad. I guess you could just use all of it if you really liked chickpeas. Put all these vegetables and other ingredients on top of the greens in the salad bowl, not bothering to toss yet, just letting them chill there until it was time to eat. Juiced one lemon and poured it into a glass jar with a lid. Added about 4 tablespoons good olive oil and a liberal grinding of pepper and salt. Closed the lid tightly and shook it up in the jar until it was emulsified. I waited to dress the salad until the rest of our dinner was ready, then right before we ate I poured the dressing over everything and tossed it all up until it all ingredients were mixed up and the dressing covered everything.

Jeremy and Melanie brought up chicken and delicious spicy chicken sausages so we marinated the chicken in teriyaki and boiled up the sausages like brats before slapping them on the grill. I sliced one small eggplant into rounds and marinated them in salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I cut 4 very small, yellow crookneck squash in half lengthwise (they were so tiny! little baby squash--no longer than 5 or 6 inches, adorable!), and 2 red peppers into strips. These I marinated separately from the eggplant in olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and a little bit of minced red onion left over from preparing the salad. First up I grilled the chicken breasts, then the eggplant, then peppers and squash (grill cut side down on the squash to get attractive char marks), then sausages. As always, checking with instant, digital meat thermometer for safe temperatures. Please tell me you have one of these. They are wonderful things and have many applications, only one of which is grilling. You can also use them to annoy your spouse, by jabbing the pointy end into their stomachs and saying "I'll take your temperature!" I'm not saying any of us were doing that but if anyone was, it was Jeremy.

Also, we had boiled peanuts before dinner. I made them like I usually do, which is to cover fresh, green peanuts with water, add about 3 tablespoons pickling spices, 2 crumbled bay leaves, 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes and an assload of kosher salt, probably about 4 tablespoons, depending on how many peanuts and how much water. You want it to be briny. Boil them until they get soft, drain and drizzle olive oil over them and sprinkle with a little vinegar. They are better with chile oil, but I didn't have any on hand.

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