- 1 large yellow onion
- 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely minced
- 2 pounds finely ground lean lamb or beef
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 12 to 14 wooden or metal skewers (if using wooden skewers, presoak in water for 30 to 60 minutes)
- 6 cups unstrained Laban, or store-bought, full-fat plain yogurt, chilled
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch sea salt
- 3 Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 6 fresh mint leaves, finely minced, 1 tablespoon reserved for garnish
- 3 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- ½ cup #1 fine bulgur wheat, or 1 cup cooked, chilled quinoa
- 4 firm, ripe tomatoes, finely diced
- 6 scallions, ends trimmed, green and white parts thinly sliced
- ¾ cup to 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt Hearts of romaine leaves, for serving
1) Preheat a grill to high, or if using an oven, preheat to 450°F.
2) Quarter the onion and finely mince in a food processor. Transfer the minced onions in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, and press down on the onions to remove any excess liquid.
3) Discard the liquid and set the onions aside. Add the parsley to the food processor and pulse to finely chop. Return the drained onions to the food processor bowl. Add the ground meat and season with the salt, pepper, and allspice. Process to thoroughly blend all the ingredients, periodically pausing the processor to push the meat down and scrape it from the bottom and sides of the bowl. Transfer the meat mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Using your hands, mix the meat mixture together to make sure that all ingredients are evenly incorporated into a smooth mixture.
Make the kafta kababs:
1) Working in 1/3-cup portions, mold the meat mixture into a long sausage-like shape, about 6 inches in length. Then, roll the meat in between your palms to a thickness of about 1½ inches. Using the sharp end of the skewer, pierce through one end of the kabob and slide it through the other end; the meat should be about 1 inch away from the sharp tip of the skewer. Squeeze the meat one more time to ensure that it tightly adheres to the skewer.
3) Continue making kabobs in the same manner with the remaining meat mixture. You should end up with 12 to 14 skewers.
4) If using a grill, lightly brush it with oil. Place the kafta kabobs on the grill over a medium flame and cook, turning them periodically so that they cook evenly, 4 to 5 minutes per side, being careful not to overgrill them.
If roasting in the oven, place the kabobs on a lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart, and roast on the middle rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through the roasting time.
5) Serve hot. Serve with Tahini Dressing or Khayer b Laban (cucumber, yogurt, and mint salad)
Directions for Salad
1) Ladle the yogurt into a large mixing bowl (if possible, use a stainless-steel bowl and spoon to keep yogurt cold). Thoroughly whisk until silky smooth.
2) Using a mortar and pestle or a garlic press, pound or purée the garlic cloves into a smooth paste then mash in a pinch of salt and stir into the yogurt.
3) Add the cucumbers, mint, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients thoroughly. Taste, and add additional salt, if needed.
4) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes until chilled. If chilling serving bowls for an extra-refreshing salad, place them in the refrigerator as well.
5) Just before serving, spoon the salad into the bowls and sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves.
DIrections for Tabouli
1) At least 30 minutes before preparing the taboulie, thoroughly wash the parsley and mint leaves in cold water to remove dirt or debris. Shake out any excess water and drain in a colander, stem sides down. If you have a salad spinner, you can dry the herbs in that way or lay out on paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth to air dry; just make sure they are very dry before you chop them.
2) Place the bulgur wheat into a bowl and cover with 3 cups of cold water. Set aside to soak and soften, about 20 minutes.
3) Combine the tomatoes, scallions, and herbs in that order in a large mixing bowl. By now, the bulgur wheat should have softened. To test, squeeze some of the grains between your fingertips, it should squish and be completely soft. Soak the bulgur longer if needed.
4) Using your hands, squeeze out the soaked bulgur, removing as much excess water as possible. Sprinkle the bulgur on top of the fresh herbs and vegetables in the bowl. Pour in the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with the salt. Toss all the ingredients together (preferably with your hands); it should be juicy but not soggy. Taste and add salt as needed.
5) Serve the salad as soon as possible with fresh, crisp romaine lettuce hearts for scooping
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