Spring Time Eats

It was a beautifully sunny day yesterday, so I decided to heat up the bbq and make some scrumptious turkey meatballs and zucchini pasta. The flavours were out-of-this-world refreshing, and I can honestly say that everyone was impressed. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, dinner was a success!

Turkey Kebabs

(The recipe calls for lamb, but I used turkey instead)

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Ingredients

For sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt (preferably whole-milk)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt

For zucchini:
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil (we used about half of this)
2 medium zucchini (1 1/4 lb total), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices (don’t skim on their thickness, or you will have difficulty threading them, as we did)

For kefta (meatballs):
2 slices firm white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 lb ground lamb (from shoulder) (or if you do not like lamb, dark turkey meat is an excellent substitution)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped

Special equipment: 12 (10-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

Make sauce: Stir together yogurt, mint, garlic, and salt in a small bowl and chill.

Prepare zucchini: Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, and oil in a large bowl and stir in zucchini slices. Marinate at room temperature while making meatballs.

Make meatballs: Cover bread with water in a bowl and soak 10 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of bread to remove as much excess water as possible, then transfer to a bowl.

Pulse onion and herbs in a food processor until finely chopped, then add to bread along with lamb, salt, spices, and pine nuts. Mix with your hands until well blended. Form lamb mixture into 36 balls (1 scant tablespoon each).

Assemble and grill kebabs: Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas; see cooks’ note below). Thread 6 meatballs 1/4 inch apart onto each of 6 skewers. Thread zucchini lengthwise onto remaining 6 skewers (5 slices per skewer), so cut sides are on the grill, leaving 1/4 inch between slices. Grill zucchini and lamb on oiled grill rack, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve warm, with yogurt sauce.

Grilling procedure: On a charcoal grill: Open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. When charcoal turns grayish white (about 15 minutes from lighting), hold your hand 5 inches above grill rack to determine heat for charcoal as follows. Hot: when you can hold your hand there for 1 to 2 seconds; medium-hot: 3 to 4 seconds; low: 5 to 6 seconds.

On a gas grill: preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then, if necessary, reduce to heat specified in recipe.

If you don’t have a grill: Kebabs can be broiled on 2 large shallow baking pans 5 inches from heat, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.

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Zucchini and Almond Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds zucchini (2 to 3, depending on size), halved lenthwise and very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, thinly sliced on a mandoline or with a peeler
1/2 cup slivered almonds, well-toasted and cooled (300 degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, usually works)
1/2 pound pasta of your choice (I like the extra bite of whole wheat pasta in pasta salads), cooked, drained and cooled
5 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Further additions, if you wish: 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese (replacing parmesan), 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced (you can let this marinate in the dressing for a few minutes, to reduce its bite), 1/4 pound fresh arugula or 1/4 cup thinly slivered basil or 1 cup white beans, rinsed and drained

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Preparation

Toss zucchini slices with one teaspoon salt in a large colander set over a bowl or in sink. Let drain 20 minutes. If they taste too salty to you, rinse and drain them again.

Stir zucchini, parmesan, almonds and pasta together. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice, seasoning generously with black pepper and salt to taste. Toss with salad and adjust seasonings to taste. Pack up salad and take it with you to the beach.

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Recipes adapted from www.smittenkitchen.com

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