As part of ramping up healthful eating in our house, I have been experimenting with a few traditional flavours. Usually, Souvlaki is paired with Lamb or even perhaps Chicken. However, as I had some grass feed Beef already in our freezer, I thought I would team them up instead.
Traditional Mediterranian cooking uses herbs and spices native to the area to add flavour to a dish. The pairing of lemon, garlic and oregano really packed a powerful punch to your tastebuds. Not only do they give this amazing favour, they also pack a powerful nutrient punch to boot.
Garlic has been used traditionally for its medicinal properties and used for culinary purposes (both raw and cooked) for thousands of years. Lemon has also been used traditionally and is high in Vitamin C -however heat will destroy the Vitamin C. If you want to give yourself a little boost in this area you could squeeze a little over your meal. The gorgeous sour lemony flavour of course will still be there.
And Oregano – mmmmm one of my favourite herbs, this little beauty may not have a huge flavour punch by itself. Its ‘claim to fame’ usually comes when it is paired with tomatoes or other ingredients as it will draw out the flavour. In this case the lemon and garlic. More importantly Oregano has proven health benefits as well. For those who like the science here is some info from the Mercola website:
A study was undertaken to investigate whether origanum vulgare, widely used in the Mediterranean diet and already associated with a low risk for colon cancer, might have some effect on cancer prevention. Oregano extract was found to lead to an arrest in growth and the death of colon cancer cells, possibly because changes in glutathione content reduced oxidation.1
Certain parts of the Mediterranean region (diet) have been associated with a decreased cardiovascular and diabetes risk. In one study, an inverse relationship was observed between Mediterranean herbs, including oregano, and lung cancer (although reported lifestyle choices also lowered the risk for several cancers).
In evaluating which herbal phytonutrients were responsible, the naturally occurring polyphenol carnosol was identified as having anti-cancer properties in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer. Carnosol also exercised selective toxicity towards cancer cells versus benign tumor cells2.
So enough of this little lesson and to get to the recipe I used:
To Make Kebabs:
500-600 grams lamb, beef or chicken (diced for threading onto bamboo skewers)
3-4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few fresh oregano leaves, squeeze of lemon juice and plain Greek yoghurt
What to do:
Combine garlic, dried oregano, lemon juice and oil in a glass bowl with
Combine garlic, dried oregano, lemon juice and oil in a glass bowl with protein of choice, cover and let marinate for 30 mins.
Thread onto bamboo skewers alternating with your choice of vegetables. I used red capsicum, red onion and mushrooms. You could add nearly any other firm vegetable.
Cook over grill plate until meat is cooked to your liking.
Serve on a bed of fresh green leafy vegetables, dollop yoghurt over kebabs and scatter with fresh oregano leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
I hope you will give this recipe a go and leave me a comment with your thoughts and variations. (Oh if you do not have any Oregano you could use Majoram for a slightly different flavour)