June 7, 2010

Spring Everlasting

Greek Lamb Kebabs with Feta Tzatziki Sauce and Reustle Tempranillo

The first week of June has nearly passed, and it is still gray, rainy and none too warm here in the Pacific Northwest. My arachnid-like frame is ready to warm itself on a rock. I yearn to wear sundresses and shorts and feel the sun warm my muscles to the bone and to feel limber and lithe; to feel summer.

To view the world in a glass-half-full way, I'm choosing to see how these mild temperatures and drizzle of spring combine to make the lettuce, chard, broccoli and kale burst to life in the garden. The hillside grasses are a regular chlorophyll explosion... green, green, green everywhere, in every shade imaginable, making the neighbor's lambs grow fat. I imagine the water table rising, building a reserve from which the roots of my favorite dry-farmed wine varietals will draw moisture when the temperatures are soaring. And the cool mist makes our Oregon forests spectacularly mystical this time of year.
Until summer comes, we'll draw our little table, not mentioned in this former post on our many outdoor dining settings, out of the rain under the cover of back porch, wearing our fleece jackets while we grill outdoors, continue to sip and savor deep, heavier red wines while looking forward to the Rosé days ahead.

Fresh Off the Grill

For this meal, we gave chunks of local lamb a good soak in a Greek-inspired marinade, threaded them with onion and red pepper, and grilled the kebabs over hot coals until the lamb edges were crispy but the interior was still melty-tender. Long slices of eggplant were brushed with the same marinade and set over the coals, too.

We served the lamb in pitas with generous dollops of a tangy, creamy, herb-y sauce/spread/dip, alongside a salad of crispy lettuces from our garden, tiny cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, garbanzos, a sprinkling of Feta, and a great homemade salad dressing.


We served Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2007 Tempranillo. This award winner has deep, dark fruit and notes of dusty cocoa and ground coffee. This Tempranillo provided a nice compliment to the smoky grilled notes of the meal. In the Umpqua Valley AVA, the Reustle's vineyard and winery is beautiful, complete with an elaborate tasting cave. Each tasting is served with a complementary food pairing and a good deal of personal attention, and is definitely worth going out of your way to visit.


Our recipes for the lamb marinade, Feta tzatziki sauce and salad dressing are below.


Murray the Amazing Wonder Dog, Working on His Invisible Trick

Greek-Inspired Marinade for Lamb
In a one-gallon zip-top bag, place:
The zest and juice of one lemon
8 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons dried Mediterranean oregano
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Squish ingredients together. Place cut pieces of meat into bag. Squish everything around together again. Allow to marinate, refrigerated, at least one hour and up to overnight. Or, if you wish, place the entire bag in the freezer for another day. Simply thaw and grill.

Feta Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2 teaspoons dried dill, or 2-3 teaspoons fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 four-inch piece English cucumber, finely diced
3 oz. tangy Feta, crumbled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients together. Allow to sit for 30 minutes or flavors to marry.

The Best Greek Salad Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Mediterranean oregano
1 small shallot, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients except olive oil in jar. Screw lid on tightly and give it a tremendous shake. Add olive oil. Shake again. Allow to mellow for at least 30 minutes. Shake again before dressing salad.

22 comments:

  1. This sounds outstanding. I love Greek flavors so much. I can't wait to try the tzatziki with the feta. What a great idea.

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  2. This sounds outstanding. I love Greek flavors so much. I can't wait to try the tzatziki with the feta. What a great idea.

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  3. This sounds so yummy. I can't wait to taste the Tzatziki with the feta cheese.

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  4. Those lamb kebabs look amazing!!! And definitely summery despite your weather. But how lucky are you to have a neighbor with lambs! (and a magical dog!) ;)

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  5. I love lamb, especially combined with Greek flavors. I bet this is wonderful. :)

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  6. Your photos make me miss the PNW and this recipe makes me miss my favourite Seattle restaurant - The Continental (on the Ave). I would murder for their souvlaki sandwich right now... Luckily I have a packet of Cypriot oregano in the pantry that should enable me to try this for myself, and spare a life... ;-)

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  7. What an amazing meal. I also add feta to my tzatziki. Yum!!

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  8. I like your glass-half-full approach to the awful spring we've been having here in the NW. Today it's actually sunny here in Seattle...for the moment. Love your photos--great post!

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  9. You're hitting a love of mine with this recipe. Greek food is so delicious! I especially love tzatziki.

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  10. Everyone was complaining about it being cooler than usual when we were in Seattle two weeks back. Being from NH we thought it was quite nice. Oddly, it was in the 90's in New England while we were out there so we would have been sweating had we been home. I'll take the spring for a bit longer.

    I haven't done much with lamb before and kebabs sound like a nice way to get some experience. On the menu for next week.

    Jason

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  11. Is that your backyard? It's so green and beautiful. I almost forgot about the lamb kebabs I came here to read. Great use of feta in the tzatziki sauce.

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  12. Murray the Amazing Wonder Dog--what a wonderful cameo to a delicious post! :)

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  13. Those lamb kebabs look fantastic! And, I've never tried a tzatziki with feta but I'm intrigued! :)

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  14. I love Greek flavors and kebabs are the best! However, the real star of the show is Murray... he's adorable!

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  15. Amazing photos and recipe ! I've never done tazatziki with feta but will have to give this a try.

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  16. Grilled lamb in my favourite! I'm lucky to live in a neighbourhood that's predominantly Greek, so we can usually find very good-quality lamb for very reasonable prices... not to mention all the seasonings we need for Greek-inspired flavours.
    Can't wait for a nice sunny day to try this one out! (unlike you, I'm not tough enough to grill when it's cold and drizzly... yuck)

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  17. Your posts never cease to make me both hungry and homesick! This one is making me crave spring in a serious way. Here in Arizona, spring lasts approximately 15 minutes and happens sometime in Feb.

    Lamb, cucumber, dill, and an acre of greengreen grass! What a great combination.

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  18. Great looking food. I love that sauce, sounds amazing:)

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  19. Pam - looks amazing and the Tempranillo is a wonderful pairing for your delicious meal. Love the photo of your doggie! Hope you are doing well!!! (BTW - I still think about that amazing lamb dish you made - if you have a recipe, would love to have it.) Take care!

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  20. The tempranillo looks particularly good with the lamb! Great photos and a great post

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  21. What a beautiful setting for an equally beautiful feast! I've been craving lamb lately and everything you put on your table sounds so good. It's also been years since I last made tzatziki. You're inspiring me...

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  22. How beautiful. I'm now in the mood for lamb and wine.

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