In The Welcoming Feast, a three-part Martin & Sylvia collection of stories, Daddy's new colleague, Rami Hadid, and his family are coming over for dinner. Martin is initially resistant. He is generally hesitant about meeting new people, but when he learns that the Hadid's are Muslim and that Rami has lots of stories about growing up in Syria, he is very curious.
In addition to sharing a delicious meal and stories, by the end of the evening the two families have also discovered — as we humans so often do when we keep open hearts and minds — that they have more in common than not. They (and we) are all part of our great big human family.
This year Ramadan begins on June 6th. For Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month devoted to prayer, fasting, and introspection. While observant Muslims do not eat from sunrise to sunset, once the sun goes down, they share delicious feasts with family and friends.
If you're inclined to feast as well, the following kebabs — inspired by those popular in Syria and Lebanon — will set you on the right path.
Unlike the skewered chunks of meat and vegetables that Americans commonly call “shish kebabs,” these kebabs are made from ground meat that is shaped around a stick, then grilled over an open fire. They're delicious served with spicy, roasted tomato sauce, and a nutty, barley salad (recipe below).
- Do your best to make the barley salad the day before, though, as the flavors only get better if it sits for a few days.
Kebabs With Roasted Tomato Sauce
(Makes about 7 kebabs, double or triple the recipe for a crowd)
- For the kebabs
1 pound lean ground beef
½ cup flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
- For the Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, diced
¼ cup tomato paste
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper
Juice of one lemon
Meanwhile, start the tomato sauce. To do so, warm the olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic, and allow it to cook for a slow count to 30, then add the tomato paste. Let the tomato paste roast for a minute, then add the diced tomatoes and their juices, along with the paprika, red pepper, and lemon juice. Bring the sauce to a boil, then allow it to simmer down while you grill the kebabs.
On a well oiled, hot grill, cook the skewers for about 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve them over barley salad, with a generous spoonful of tomato sauce on top.
2 cups barley
7 cups water
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ cup green olives
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Add the barley and water to a large stock pot and boil until the barley is tender, but not mushy—about 20 minutes. Then, strain the barley in a fine mesh sieve.
Meanwhile, dice the scallions. Peel, seed, and chop the cucumber into about 1 inch chunks. Quarter the cherry tomatoes. Cut the olives in half.
While the barley is still hot, mix in the lemon juice and olive oil, then add all of the veggies. Toss everything together well, then add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.