Despite the fact that a few snafus nailed us with the most ridiculous grocery bill in recent memory (everyone has to have one, right?), my actual vision for our meals went off without a hitch.
Last week while I was on the treadmill, I watched an episode of Ten Dollar Dinners that involved Melissa D’Arabian making falafel and an interpretation of tabouli. I was rather taken, but I didn’t want to buy a bag of pitas that would languish in the freezer for months, or create stray leftovers that didn’t quite “fit” with anything else.
So we committed to a pair of Mediterranean-themed nights, using the same sides, but featuring a different entree each night.
To channel Ina, How Easy Is That?
Annie gets major points for pushing us out of our comfort zone. Not only did we buy our first bottle of red wine vinegar, but I’ll also admit that even though we love gyros 11/10, we never even thought to try making them.
The reality: The chicken tastes delicious. But I would never, ever confuse it with a gyro. Doner kebap? Possibly. But gyro? Would be a bit of a stretch.
We didn’t make her tzatziki because we’re rather in love with the arrangement that we pawed out of Nigella Kitchen. It’s fast, and fairly easy to make, especially if you’re already committed to mincing all manner of greenery. But you know, if it’s calling to you, then you can always go that route.
The Israeli Couscous Tabouli was spectacularly easy because once again, we were already planning on being mincing-fiends. Even though I was fairly certain that Marcus had never eaten tabouli before, I knew that he liked Israeli Couscous and that we eat prolific amounts of minced parsley and cilantro at most meals. I was kind of banking on the fact that if the dish was a hit this go-round, then I’d probably be able to attempt it with a more appropriate grain next time. Or we could just put it in the keeper file. Because that’s always a choice too.
Just make sure that if you decide to action this plate, that you do it for loved ones that you would eat buffet food or ribs in-front of, because it is SO not an attractive meal to watch someone else eat 😉
Yes, I realize that there’s corn in the picture and NO tabouli OR tzatziki. And I didn’t even list it in the menu. Let’s put it this way: From July – September, I will be eating corn at a rate that is astonishing in the best case scenario and absolutely horrific in the worst. Along with all manner of roasted potatoes, caprese salads and other grilled vegetables from the farm. If I do something exceptionally clever with them, I’ll share. But otherwise, just assume that we’re…eating a whole hell of a lot of unpictured vegetables that don’t require narration.
It took me until today to realize that I completely neglected to add any dill to our yogurt/tzatziki arrangement on the first go-round. For all of that, I will say that it’s fairly versatile in the sense that it tastes SO green that you could really toss anything in and be safe. Just make sure to season it with enough salt and pepper.
All of that aside, let’s talk about this Falafel thing. I’ve been craving them in the most intense way since we ate The Best Falafel Ever from a food truck at 2 AM near the apartment we were renting in NYC last August. So when Melissa D’Arabian got to making them, I decided that it looked like a reasonable proposition.
Because Melissa D’Arabian is the kind of person that seems…reasonable. And realistic.
As I added 3/4 t Cayenne to the mix, I raised an eyebrow, because that’s not an insignificant amount of the red stuff. But Melissa? Knew what she was doing. When we bit into them, they were…falafel. Not just falafel, but actually falafel. And the experience was one part astonishment, one part bliss and one part ISTHISREALLYHAPPENING?
Our modifications: We didn’t have any green onions left, so those got omitted. Since we didn’t have any cilantro left (we did have a full bunch of parsley), we just went all-in with the parsley instead of half-half. After frying them (it’s more like 2-3 min/side, not 3-4) we put them on a roasting rack and baked them in the oven for another ~5 minutes to let them dry out and crisp up a bit more.
I know I say this about a lot of things, but I’m really serious about it this time…HOME RUN.
Have you ever made a meal/dinner based off of a cooking show? What menu? Which show?