By Cat, June 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
‘Souvlaki’ is the Greek word for skewered, grilled meat. They are more commonly called ‘Kebab,’ which is an Arabic word, and the grilled cubes of meat are popular all around the Mediterranean and southern Asia. They are often served as part of a Meza.
While American versions of souvlaki use beef, the Greek tradition use lamb, as in this recipe.
Generally I don’t care for Martha Stewart’s recipes, but this Greek-style recipe is a delicious exception. I’ve always loved souvlaki/kebabs, ever since my Mom made them on our new 1960s charcoal grill, on the evenings when we would stay up all night, in our yard, to watch for Sputnik (and later for our own US satellites) to go across the dark sky overhead.
Lamb & Cucumber Souvlaki, with Feta Sauce
This delicious recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2010(1), and serves 4 (2 Souvlaki per serving). I’ve added tomatoes to the kebabs, but of course, you don’t have to include them.
The original calls for Greek Yogurt, which is thicker and often sweeter (with honey) than plain yogurt. Instead, I use plain homemade yogurt but let a bit of the whey drip off before using (in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t ripen into cheese). You could add a bit of honey if desired.
You could use preserved lemons for this recipe but the wedges would not be as attractive.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 5 lemons, for juice, zest & wedges
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried)
- 3 – 4 pounds boneless leg of lamb
- 1 English cucumber
- 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
- Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Feta Sauce:
- 3 oz feta cheese, crumbled (½cup)
- 4 oz Greek yogurt *
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- small bowl
- glass baking dish
- 8 metal skewers
* Greek Yogurt: Line a strainer with a cotton cloth, add plain yogurt and let it drip into a bowl, in the refrigerator. Add honey to taste (if desired)
- Lamb marinade: Grate ½ tsp zest from one of the lemons. Juice about 4 lemons to make ½ cup juice, plus 1 Tbsp juice for the sauce. Cut 1 whole lemon into 8 wedges.
- Whisk oil, ½ cup juice and zest in small bowl.
- Mince garlic, sprinkle ¼ tsp salt over, and press with blade of knife to make a paste, then scrape into the oil/lemon mixture. Strip leaves from the oregano and add to juice mixture.
- Cut lamb into 1 ½ inch cubes. Place in a glass baking dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile: Halve the cuc lengthwise and cut into 24 pieces about 1″ thick. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Set aside.
- Make the sauce: put all ingredients in food processor or use a hand-blender and process until very smooth. Refrigerate.
- Thread lamb, cucumbers and tomatoes onto skewers; finish each with a lemon wedge. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat grill to medium-high. Grill kebabs 10 – 12 minutes for medium rare, turning over halfway through. Serve with the sauce.
- Martha suggests serving with Greek chilled avgolemono soup, green salad with chickpeas and strawberries with vanilla syrup for desert.
- Or serve with pita and Mid-Eastern Meza side dishes.
- Martha Stewart Living, June 2010 (marthastewart.com/344023/lamb-and-cucumber-kebabs-with-feta-sauce)