Lebanese Beef Skewers with Herby Quinoa Tabbouleh

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Recipe: (from Hello Fresh)

  • 8 oz of Ground Beef
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of Allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of Cayenne
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3/4 Quinoa
  • 1 bunch of Grape Tomatoes (about 8 individual)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Scallions
  • 1 bunch of Parsley
  • 4 Wooden Skewers

Level: EASY

A few weeks ago, a girlfriend of mine surprised me with my very first experience with a company called Hello Fresh. What is Hello Fresh!? Hello Fresh is a meal based company dedicated to helping home-cooks use the freshest ingredients, while also cultivating their creative side. They work with some of the best purveyors in the country to ensure that the customer receives the best ingredients possible while still ensuring sustainability for both the suppliers and the environment. Hello Fresh delivers a fresh box of new ingredients every week right to your doorstep. They do everything for you! They create amazing recipes, they do all the shopping, they deliver right to your doorstep FOR FREE, and then YOU get to prepare these delicious dishes having all the legwork done and done.

However, beyond all of that, perhaps what I love MOST about this company is that they are putting fresh ingredients back into the hands, and back on to the tables, of families around the country. Part of my reason for starting this blog was to share my passion for preserving the family table. Because our culture is CONSTANTLY on the go, speed seems to not only seep into our work time, our personal time, but also our meal time as well. With all the amazing things that technology has done for us, I dare say it has also handicapped us in many ways relationally. The family table; the dinner table, is that one time during the day that we get to just PAUSE, look each other in the eye, unload if we have to, cry if we need to, and laugh because we get to.

I’ll tell you, this one dish sparked so much dialog around my table tonight. My husband and I loved how we got to “taste the rainbow” with all of the bright colors in the various vegetables in this meal. It also sparked our imagination as we began to dream up other dishes we could create now having experienced this Lebanese inspired flavor palate.

What’s cool is that Hello Fresh shows us that not only can amazing and flavorful meals be done with REAL ingredients…but with their easy recipes, they can be done in REAL [quick] time as well.

It is my hope, that this dish sparks conversation, laughter, dreaming and scheming around your family table tonight as well.

Enjoy!

Directions: (taken from Hello Fresh‘s recipe)

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“Heat broiler to high or oven to 500*F. Soak the wooden skewers in a shallow dish filled with water. In a small pot, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil with a large pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, halve, peel, and finely dice the onion. Finely chop the parsley. Quarter the grape tomatoes. Quarter the cucumber lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

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Add the quinoa to the boiling water, cover, and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, thinly slice the scallions. Zest the lemon, then cut into wedges.

Make the beef mixture: in a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, diced onion, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and a large pinch of allspice, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

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Assemble the skewers: form the beef mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs and thread them carefully onto the wooden skewers.

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Place skewers on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place on the top rack in the oven under the broiler for 5-6 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Make the quinoa tabbouleh: while the meatballs cook, combine the cooked quinoa with the tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, scallions, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with  salt and pepper.

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Serve the meatball skewers over the quinoa tabbouleh with a lemon wedge to the side. Enjoy!”

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What Worked:

This meal is packed full of flavor! I loved the mixture of cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne with the meat… I have never used (nor really thought about) that spice combination for meat before. I also loved it juxtaposed to the bright, light, fresh, and zestiness of the tabbouleh. This recipe opened up a whole new flavor palate for me and has gotten me very excited about other Lebanese inspired possibilities!

What DIDN’T Work:

This may or may not be a personal taste preference, but I felt that 1/2 an onion finely chopped was WAY too much onion. In fact, I ended up picking out much of the onion prior to cooking the meatballs, and I still had a ton of unused onion left in my bowl. The next time I make this dish, I will be sure to only use about 1/4 of an onion instead.

Also, I hate to say it, but this dish felt incomplete to me. It seemed like it was missing something, and therefore I was forced to improvise. See below for my suggestions regarding this.

Suggestions/Tips:

Ok, like I said above, for whatever reason when all was said and done, this dish felt incomplete. I felt that it needed a sauce of some sort as well as a starch (regardless of the quinoa). Since I wasn’t planning on this being the case from the beginning, I scoured my pantry and refrigerator for a last minute option. Luckily, on hand, I had both garlic flatbread as well as hummus, and therefore both of those acted as my sauce and starch.

Next time, I may also choose to accompany my flatbread and hummus with a cucumber and dill yoghurt sauce as well.

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