An Armenian-inspired menu for a very American Fourth of July

Instead of serving the usual hamburgers and potato salad,
why not celebrate America’s independence with their Armenian-inspired
counterparts instead? Your family and guests will thank you for it!

Entrée: Lule Kebab (seasoned ground meat shaped like a
sausage) or Losh Kebab (seasoned ground meat shaped like a hamburger) with
Yogurt-Garlic Sauce
Side Dish: Nanny’s Armenian Potato Salad (no mayonnaise
Dessert: Watermelon with Armenian string cheese and fresh
Lule kebab and veggies on the grill

Yields 5 or 6 kebabs – enough for 2 to 3 hungry people (NOTE: You
can double the ingredient amounts for a larger crowd.)

1 and 1/2 lbs. ground lamb or beef
3 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon tomato paste – or – red pepper paste
(available in Middle Eastern stores – or- tomato paste mixed with a dash of
cayenne pepper and paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste.)
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. allspice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
**Gently mix all of the ingredients with salt and pepper
(see note below) and shape the kebabs like sausages(Lule kebab) or hamburgers
(Losh kebab) — you don’t have to get fancy or worry about making them perfect,
but try to keep the thickness about the same so they cook evenly.
Cook on the grill until done – which, to us, means well
done, or about 15 minutes in all. Since these aren’t flat burgers, turn them
periodically so they’ll cook through.
**NOTE: To check the seasonings, make a mini-kebab and cook
it in a frying pan.
Tip: Toss some tomatoes, peppers
and onions in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Grill them along with the kebabs. Serve with a salad and
the pilaf of your choice.

Serve with lavash or pita bread, onions and parsley, and
yogurt-garlic sauce on the side, if you like.
16 oz. plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste
1. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice,
garlic, and salt. Mix well.
2. Chill until ready to serve, allowing flavors to blend.
Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
NOTE: If you want a thicker sauce,
use Greek yogurt or labne – or – line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee
filters. Place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the lined
strainer and place all in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Discard the excess liquid that collected in the bowl – or save it for another use, and place the thickened
yogurt in a separate storage container. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Armenian Potato Salad (Photo courtesy of Sonia Tashjian)
Yield: Serves 4
This recipe can easily be doubled.
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp. red pepper paste, diluted with a little water (Note:
Tomato paste mixed with a dash of cayenne pepper and paprika may be substituted
for the red pepper paste.)
cumin, allspice, salt and pepper, to taste
about 2 Tbsp. olive oil
lemon juice, optional
1. In a small bowl, mix the red pepper paste with a little
water to thin it out. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, parsley,
diluted red pepper paste, and seasonings. Add olive oil; gently toss. Adjust
seasonings, if needed. Add a little lemon juice, if desired.
3. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.
Watermelon and Armenian string cheese

For an effortless dessert, serve seedless watermelon –
sliced or cubed. Served with Armenian string cheese or Feta cheese, garnished
with chopped fresh mint, if you like.
NOTE: Armenian string cheese is sold in Middle Eastern
stores and in some supermarkets.
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