2 pounds ground lamb (substitute use 1 pound ground lamb and 1 pound ground beef, if desired)
1 medium red onion, chopped
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup each chopped flat-leaf parsley and fresh mint
1/4 cup ground walnuts or pistachios
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon each ground sumac and dried cumin
Kosher salt, black pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, and dried basil (to taste)
6 whole wheat or white pita rounds, sliced Armenian peda bread, or naan bread
1 large eggplant
6 Romaine lettuce hearts, sliced lengthwise, with cores intact
3 red or white onions
3 red bell peppers
3 green bell peppers
3 large tomatoes
Olive oil, sea or Kosher salt and black pepper
Sliced Monterey Jack, Mozzarella Jack or Provolone cheese or any sliced cheese
In a medium bowl, combine the ground lamb with the onions and garlic and mix well; add the pomegranate molasses, parsley, mint, walnuts, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, sumac and cumin, and mix until all ingredients are combined. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and basil to taste, and form meat into oval patties or kebabs. Place kebabs on a hot grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning once, until golden brown or to taste. Top kebabs with choice of sliced cheese, cook a minute longer, and remove from grill. Keep warm.
While the kebabs are cooking, wash and slice the eggplant into 6-8 slices; brush with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on each side.
Brush lettuce hearts with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill for 2-3 minutes, turning, until lettuce is slightly brown. Repeat the same process with the sliced onions and grill until golden brown. Slice the bell peppers and tomatoes in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill. Remove the vegetables and lettuce hearts from the grill to a pan and keep warm until ready to serve.
Brush pita rounds or choice of bread with a little olive oil and grill until lightly brown.
Serve the kebabs on a large platter with the grilled bread, and garnish with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and lettuce hearts; drizzle kebabs and lettuce hearts with Yogurt Tahini Lemon Dressing. Serve extra dressing on the side.
Yogurt Tahini Lemon Dressing
1 1/2 cups Greek or plain white yogurt
1 English cucumber or 3-4 Persian cucumbers, seeded and shredded
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice and zest of one large lemon (more lemon juice to taste)
2 cloves fresh garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of Kosher or sea salt, black pepper, paprika or Aleppo pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
In a medium bowl combine the yogurt with the shredded cucumbers. Add the tahini, lemon juice, zest, garlic, and olive oil and mix. Add the salt, pepper, paprika or Aleppo pepper, and sesame seeds. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more lemon juice, if desired.
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Christine Vartanian Datian is a native of Fresno, California and lives in Las Vegas. She is a graduate of Fresno High School and California State University, Fresno (CSUF), and holds a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Mass Communications. She has been published in Sunset and Cooking Light Magazines.