Greek Slather and Lamb Souvlaki


First, this would be a lovely accompaniment to this.

“Greek Slather” is what I call my all-purpose marinade, salad dressing, vegetable toss and bread dip. Some variation of this makes its way into most Greek salads and marinades. Throughout the summer months–especially when tomatoes are in season–I like to keep a mason jar full of this stuff in the refrigerator at the ready.

Greek Slather (enough for 1 lb. of meat and assorted vegetables)

1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. (30ml) lemon juice
2 Tbsp. (30ml) fresh oregano (Italian or Greek)*
2 big juicy garlic cloves (about 1 Tbsp. or 15ml)
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1/25ml) freshly ground black pepper

*I grow herbs so have fresh oregano on hand throughout the warm weather, but in the colder months I use dried Greek oregano which is very potent and I recommend trying it if you can find it. Look for it in stores specializing in middle eastern ingredients. Don’t look for little jars and bags, but something still on the stem, in a large clear bag about a foot long.

You can mince the oregano and garlic and whisk it all together, but I recommend emulsifying it in either a food processor or blender. Doing this gives the slather a nice even consistency so there is an even distribution of all the flavors, and when you cook the skewers you won’t have bits of burnt and bitter garlic strewn about.

Greek Slather

Lamb Souvlaki (makes about 4 servings of 1 skewer per person)

You want all of the meat and veg you’re stringing on the skewers to be relatively the same size so they will all touch the cooking surface, otherwise some things will be cooked, others raw.

1 lb. (450g) lamb stew meat, or boneless shoulder meat cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
1 green bell pepper (or red, orange or yellow), cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 onion (I use purple), cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
White button or cremini mushrooms–estimate 2 per skewer–you want mushrooms similar in size to the cubes of meat, so cut them in half or quarters if they’re really large
Cherry tomatoes (optional–only use if in season)–estimate 1-2 per skewer
1 recipe Greek Slather

Bamboo skewers–if you are going to be using a barbeque, soak the skewers for a few hours in water so they’re less likely to catch fire and fall apart.

Mix the meat and veg with the Slather and allow to marinade in an airtight container or zip bag for at least six hours, but preferably overnight.

Lace the meat and veg on the skewers. Be careful with the mushrooms as they tend to split. There will probably be more veg than you need so I like to make veg only skewers and treat them like a side dish.

About half an hour before grilling, remove the skewers from the marinade and let them sit at room temperature.

Though there’s nothing quite like barbequed souvlaki, I often cook these indoors in a cast iron pan.

You just want the heat relatively high. They should sizzle when they hit whatever pan or grill you’re using and should brown quickly and well. If you have the heat set too low they will just stew in their juices and be colorless.

Cook for several minutes on each side until nice and caramelized.