Saturday, April 25, 2020

Quarantine Cooking Series: Lamb Lule Kebabs and Beet Hummus

This was our first dinner under the string lights that we hung up in the backyard!  Hanging up the lights was something that I'd been thinking about doing for a long time, but we never got around to it.  The first weekend after everyone was mandated to stay at home, we braved a trip to Costco to get 200 feet of outdoor LED string lights.  It was totally worth it for the rotisserie chicken...haha, but you think I'm kidding.  After a full afternoon of screwing a hundred light bulbs, threading steel rope through tiny black zip ties attached to each light bulb, leaning ladders against tree trunks, and improvising with a rake, we were able to create zigzagging bistro lights throughout the front and back yards.  It was a lot of work but it actually went by quickly with us working together.  Nothing was more satisfying than sitting down to our first dinner underneath them (not on the same day)!

We happened to have a colorful array of Mediterranean food for dinner that night.  Believe it or not, we did not plan out this meal--in fact, it was made with things that we were trying to get rid of.  There were these beets that Wes smoked earlier in the week, part of a head of cauliflower, ground lamb in the freezer, and a random pack of pita.  And then we always have basmati rice, feta cheese, yogurt, and onions in the house.  So, after a little brainstorming, Wes got to work on marinating the lamb and forming it into lule kebabs, and I blended the beets and transformed them into a yummy, magenta hummus.  We were enjoying our meal quite happily when reality struck in the form of mosquitos.  Nature, we hadn't seen that one coming!  As soon as the sun went down, the skeeters appeared.  Our next purchases were quickly determined: a citronella candle and a Dynatrap.  Inside we went, but it was lovely to dine al fresco for all but thirty minutes!

Beet Hummus

  • 1 roasted beet (medium sized), refrigerated
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon (approximately 1/3 cup)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons warm water
  • Cumin (dash)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Feta cheese, chopped
  1. Roast and peel the beet ahead of time and cool in the fridge.  We happened to have some smoked beets on hand from earlier in the week.  Tip: do not use canned beets. I tried that before and it was so bad!
  2. Quarter the beet and place it in a food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
  3. Add everything else besides the olive oil into the food processor.  You can add more water to thin it out if you need to.
  4. Season with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to taste. When satisfied, remove from food processor and scoop the hummus into a bowl.
  5. Top the hummus with olive oil and crumbled feta. We also reserved a little bit of the beet and garnished with that and a few mint leaves.  

Lamb Lule Kebabs
Recipe adapted from
  • 3 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (we didn't have any on hand so we used dried parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large egg (we did not use one and it still held together)
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using your hands, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl just until combined (overmixing may toughen the meat).
  2. Gently squeeze meat around 10-in. metal skewers to form log-shaped kebabs, each about 8 in. long. Put kebabs on baking sheet. Cover sheet with plastic wrap and, if you have time, chill 30 minutes to let flavors meld and firm up meat.
  3. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high heat (450° to 550°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 2 to 4 seconds) and grill kebabs, turning twice, until grill marks appear and meat feels firm, 8 minutes total. Sprinkle with parsley.

Yogurt Sauce

  • 2/3 cup of thick plain yogurt or labne
  • 2 tablespoons water or lemon juice or a combination
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and black pepper

Whisk everything together, adjust the consistency with more water if you want it thinner, more yogurt if you want it thicker.  You could also add diced Persian cucumber, but we kept it smooth. 

Wes also grilled some other things that we had, including these vine tomatoes, some cauliflower, and onions which he tossed in olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.  We served everything with basmati rice dusted with sumac and pita bread.

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