This was an unexpected recipe. As a macaroni salad recipe, it came to me via Martha Stewart. And yet when I made it, I was reminded of nothing so much as that fabulous Graeco-Mediterranean condiment, tzatziki. So I’m not calling this Martha’s Macaroni Salad; I’m calling this Eleusinian Macaroni Tzatziki.

1 c. (4 oz.) elbow macaroni
1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. light sour cream
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 c. fresh chopped dill
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In boiling, lightly salted water, cook the elbow macaroni to package directions.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, finely chopped cucumber, lemon juice, and dill in a separate, medium-sized bowl.

Drain the pasta and rinse in cold running water; drain excess water and add pasta to the cucumber-mayo mixture. Mix up thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate up to one day in advance.

Next time I think I might use half the recommended lemon juice, as I felt it made this salad just too “bright.” The sour cream does that enough. I wonder if you could substitute thick Greek yogurt for the sour cream entirely? It might be less sour and more creamy if you did so (and more authentic!). Next time I might also add some halved cherry tomatoes for a splash of color and another taste dimension; you could also add goat or feta or blue cheese, or sliced black olives to dress it up.

Grill up lamb kebabs seasoned only with sea salt, and enjoy this summer side dish to the tune of bazoukia and auloi.

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Pacific Pork Kebabs with Pineapple Rice

For the kebabs:
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut in to cubes
2 medium-sized red bell peppers, cut in to large-ish pieces
Glaze 

For the glaze:
1/3 c. honey
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice
salt and pepper

For the rice:
1 c. cooked rice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved, pineapple coarsely chopped (use the reserved juice in the glaze)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

 

I did as much in advance as I could, slicing the scallions and breaking down the red peppers the night before and putting them in airtight containers in the fridge; draining the pineapple and mixing the glaze in mid-afternoon; all I had to do at dinner time was cut up the pork, thread the kabobs, and grill.

My experience with pork is that it is a fickle meat, difficult to cook thoroughly but remain tender. Usually I put it in the slow-cooker with a whole bottle of barbecue sauce and let it slow cook all day. Jim usually buries it in sauerkraut in a glass casserole and bakes it until it is cooked through and the whole house smells of sauerkraut. This recipe sounded so simple, sweet, and sticky, and looked so golden, and it’s Martha Stewart-approved, so it must be a Good Thing.

I think that if we had a real grill, not a grill pan on the stovetop, this would have cooked more quickly and evenly, and would have been less messy toward the end, when the pork juices and the glaze combined in the pan to form a smoky, sticky mess. Despite those obstacles, the meat turned out golden, not overly too sweet (even though we drizzled glaze every time we turned the kebabs), and incredibly moist and tender. I took off most of the fat when I was prepping the meat, so the meat really shone and there was no tough pieces.

As far as the rice, I think I needed to add some pineapple juice or honey, or a bit of both, to sweeten it; the scallions gave a bitter oniony bite with no counter. The rice needed the peppery-sweet pork to balance it, so to stand on its own it needs a sweet flavor to balance the onion, the chopped pineapple just didn’t cut it. I’d also be happy to serve the kebabs with plain ol’ rice. I’m simple. And we’re looking forward to making this recipe again when we have a house, not an apartment, and a real grill in the backyard.