In recent weeks I have been experimenting at home with various dishes from the Mediterranean region in an effort to strike a good balance between my own culinary curiosity and Lolly’s demand that we eat healthy — she’s my adorable little diet and fitness taskmaster. The more I read about the Mediterranean diet, the more convinced I am that it holds one of the best ways to eat a wide variety of hearty, satisfying fares while promoting good health.
The Mediterranean diet is not actually a “diet” per se. It is more a style of eating common in the various cultures in that part of the world that emphasizes certain healthful ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats like olive oil, while limiting (but not necessarily eliminating) others that are less conducive to good health, such as red meats, saturated fats and enriched grain products. For example, earlier this week we tried honey-Dijon glazed salmon with a green lentil salad, or chicken shawarma over a bed of mixed greens. And yes, wine is still on the menu in moderation, which is to say 1-2 glasses a day for men and one glass a day for the ladies.
For today’s installment we’re going Turkish with spiced lamb on whole wheat flatbreads. As a matter of personal preference I made the flatbreads myself but you should have no trouble finding something suitable at your local market. Here are your ingredients to make 4 flatbreads, which made a hearty dinner for the two of us:
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz. ground lamb
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 4 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. Italian parsley, minced
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
And for your garnishes:
- Greek yogurt
- Italian parsley leaves
- Sliced red onion
- English cucumber slices
- Lemon wedges
This dish does not take long to pull together, so consider getting any side dishes going ahead of time. For ours we made roasted asparagus with fingerling slices.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high flame and brown the lamb, which should take about 5 minutes. Drain off the excess fat, then add the garlic and onion, and sauté for about a minute. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the tomato paste and spices until thoroughly mixed and heated through. Your mixture should be somewhat dry and thick, so if you like something with a bit more moisture, maybe stir in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Arrange the flatbreads on baking sheets — you will probably only be able to fit two on each sheet — and top with a layer of the lamb mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the edges of the flatbreads begin to brown. Pull them out of the oven, garnish with dollop of greek yogurt, sliced cucumber and red onion, and some parsley leaves. Finish with a squirt of fresh lemon juice, and that’s all there is to it. Time to munch it down with a big, happy grin on your face, knowing that you’re eating a healthy but extremely yummy dish. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!