Sunday, July 2, 2017

An Armenian-inspired menu for a very American Fourth of July celebration!

Clean your grills; it's time to prepare for the Fourth of July!

Instead of serving the usual hamburgers and potato salad, why not celebrate America’s independence with their Armenian-inspired counterparts instead? Your family and guests will thank you for it!

Entrée: Lule Kebab (seasoned ground lamb shaped like a sausage) with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce
Side Dish: Nanny’s Armenian Potato Salad (no mayonnaise needed!)
Dessert: Watermelon with Armenian string cheese and fresh mint

Grilled lule kebab and vegetables.

LULE KEBAB
Yields 5 or 6 kebabs - enough for 2 to 3 people (NOTE: You can double the ingredient amounts for a larger crowd.)

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste - or - red pepper paste (available in Middle Eastern stores - or- tomato paste mixed with a dash of cayenne pepper and paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste.)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Directions:

**Gently mix all of the ingredients with salt and pepper (see note below) and shape the kebabs like sausages -- you don't have to get fancy or worry about making them perfect, but try to keep the thickness about the same so they cook evenly. 
(If you’d rather keep these hamburger-shaped, by all means, do so.)

Cook on the grill until done - which, to us, means well done, or about 15 minutes in all. Since these aren’t flat burgers, turn them periodically so they’ll cook through.


**NOTE: To check the seasonings, make a mini-kebab and cook it in a frying pan.

Tip: Toss some tomatoes, peppers and onions in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Grill them along with the kebabs. Serve with a salad and the pilaf of your choice.
Serve with lavash or pita bread, onions and parsley, and yogurt-garlic sauce on the side, if you like.

YOGURT-GARLIC SAUCE

Ingredients:
16 oz. plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste

Directions:
1. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Mix well.
2. Chill until ready to serve, allowing flavors to blend. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

NOTE: If you want a thicker sauce, use Greek yogurt or labne - or - line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer and place all in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Discard the excess liquid that collected in the bowl, and place the thickened yogurt in a separate storage container. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Armenian Potato Salad (Photo courtesy of Sonia Tashjian)

NANNY’S ARMENIAN POTATO SALAD
Yield: Serves 4
This recipe can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp. red pepper paste, diluted with a little water (Note: Tomato paste mixed with a dash of cayenne pepper and paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste.)
cumin, allspice, salt and pepper, to taste
about 2 Tbsp. olive oil
lemon juice, optional

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix the red pepper paste with a little water to thin it out. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, parsley, diluted red pepper paste, and seasonings. Add olive oil; gently toss. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Add a little lemon juice, if desired.
3. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.

Watermelon with Armenian string cheese

WATERMELON
For an effortless dessert, serve seedless watermelon – sliced or cubed. Served with Armenian string cheese or Feta cheese, garnished with chopped fresh mint, if you like. 
NOTE: Armenian string cheese is sold in Middle Eastern stores and in some Whole Foods stores.

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