Leslie Meredith on Challenge No. 1
"No! Not more green beans!" That was my first uncharitable thought when I opened the bag of mystery ingredients.
The bush and pole beans I've been growing in my yard are still going strong, and I've been picking about a pound a day. So my first challenge was finding a new and exciting way to prepare them after eating them six ways from Sunday all summer.
The lamb and beef burgers led me immediately to a Mediterranean theme, as so many Greek, Israeli and Turkish dishes feature lamb. A green bean salad featuring olives and feta fit the bill, but I also had to find a way to incorporate the Liquid Monk Fruit and its sweetness.
I tweaked the classic lemon juice and olive oil base to create a sweet and sour dressing instead and added some roasted pepitas for crunch.
I refer to Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbooks frequently for inspiration and already had a cupboard full of the spices used in many of his recipes. Several of these go into a spectacular spice mix called Baharat that I make from whole spices with my handy nut and spice grinder.
Several merchants sell a premixed version, with the specific ingredients and ratios varying by region. It lends a warm, rich flavor to all sorts of foods, including the Greek meatballs, or keftedes, that I made with the burger meat.
The recipe I developed also includes bunches of fresh herbs, which I also grow.
-- Leslie Meredith