Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. brings me back to the years I spent living in Arizona. Long weekends were so special, always dedicated to fun and family and food. I remember going out the lake for picnics in 110 degree weather, and coming home gloriously exhausted and sunburned and full of delicious food, listening to Luckenbach Texas on the radio and thinking that life couldn't get any better.
I love my American friend's sense of dedication to family and playtime and really enjoying life. It's not just Thanksgiving weekend that menu planning and pie baking and decorating the house takes place. In my neighbourhood, every single house proudly displayed an American Flag on the Fourth of July. And we all brought a picnic and a blanket out to the high school footba
ll field to watch the fireworks. Imagine 200 families all having a picnic in one spot, playing catch and sharing their fabulous food and good times! I am tearing up just for the joy of the memories!
Here's a favourite dinner of mine that can easily be packed up and barbequed at the beach, or just enjoyed in your own backyard. Greek salad, barbequed pork kebobs and grilled corn on the cob! Hello summer!
Let's start with the salad. You'll need:
2 cucumbers peeled and diced into 1 inch sized chunks.
3 large tomatoes cut into same size chunks, or a container of cherry tomatoes if you prefer.
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
A couple of handfuls of good kalamata olives
A nice sized chunk of greek feta cheese
and for the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
a good splash of balsamic vinegar
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
Put all of your vegetables into a bowl and whisk your dressing up and pour it over the salad. Crumble your feta over the salad and stir it all up. You can make this ahead of time. Just cover and chill until you're ready to serve.
For the pork kebobs you'll need:
A small pork roast.(about 1 to 2 pounds) Don't use tenderloin because it's too dry. But try to find a lean cut of pork.
Cut it all up into 1 or 1 1/2 inch sized chunks and put the meat into a large ziplock freezer bag.
For the marinade:
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
the juice of 2 lemons
One whole head of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 sweet onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon of salt and a generous grinding of pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
Whisk up the marinade and pour it over the meat. Smoosh it all around so all the meat is surrounded. Seal and put it in the fridge. Overnight will produce the best results, but at least 6 hours.
Soak your sticks for at least half an hour and thread the meat on them when you're ready to barbeque. They don't take long to cook. Only about 15 minutes on medium heat.
When you put the meat on the grill, brush some olive oil on however many cobs of corn you want and put them on the grill too. Don't put butter on them while they're on the grill because they'll scorch, but by all means, make a nice herb butter for spreading on them when you serve them. Use whatever you like. I like to mash the butter with either cilantro or parsley or even tarragon. Whatever speaks to me from the herb garden is what I use. Mash it into the butter and then refridgerate it to let the butter get hard.
Serve the meat with some tzatziki sauce on the side (use a good store bought one since it's your weekend too and you want to have some fun!) and some sliced pita bread. Some people like to put the meat in the bread, so just cut the pitas in half is fine.
This meal is meant to be consumed outside, al fresco style. It should be against the law not to, so be organized for outdoor dining. In fact, I don't even know if it would taste as good if you were to eat it inside on a beautiful summer day. And I'm not one to boss about wine since it's a matter of personal taste, but this meal really does lend itself to one of those lovely, dry rose wines that are so popular now. No white will stand up to the flavours. Try a nice Pinot Noir! Enjoy!