Today was a GREAT day. It was one of those days that was super productive, I was lucky enough to collaborate with excellent colleagues, and my students were eager to learn and engaged. Some people dread Mondays, but not me. I love Mondays because it is just the start of another work week doing the things I love: teaching and research. What better way to end an amazing Monday than with another food challenge?
Today’s challenge was a lot of fun. There were two ingredients that were new to me. In the photo above, you can see what I had to work with. Starting on the left and moving clockwise is: yellow squash, chayote squash, ground lamb, shallots, and bishop’s crown peppers.
The ingredients that were new to me were the chayote squash and the bishop’s crown peppers. The first thing I noticed about this platter was that it was so colorful. I really wanted to try to maintain some of that color in the dish I created.
First, I chopped a yellow squash and the chayote into thin strips (I learned that this is called a matchstick cut from the guest chef at Soups On, See my last post called a Messy Kitchen Means You Had a Good Time). I wanted to keep their color and crispness, but thought they were a little bland when they were raw. I though I would try ceviche, even though I’d only heard of ceviche being used on fish. I just added fresh lemon and lime juice, covered the dish, and let it sit while I prepared the rest of the meal. After I was finished with my challenge, I looked up vegetarian ceviche and found other recipes; it is possible without fish!
Next, I finely chopped one shallot and one jalapeno into the lamb. I added a teaspoon of pepper and made slider sized lamb burgers. I used our grill pan (one of our favorite wedding presents!) and a little olive oil. I’ve recently learned from a dietetics major that olive oil is one of the most effective conductors of heat when cooking.
While the lamb sliders cooked, I sliced the bishop’s crown pepper to keep some of the unique shape. I mixed cilantro into some mayonaise. Both of these were used for garnish and actually worked well to balance each other. The pepper added a nice touch of color on top of the burgers.
The final dish was jalapeno and shallot lamb sliders over a squash medley ceviche and a dollop of cilantro mayo. Joe’s honest assessment: There was too much squash (even though he picked the ingredients, ha!), the burgers were well seasoned and juicy, and the cilantro mayo toned down the spice of the bishop’s crown pepper.
What would I do differently if I made this dish again? Smaller matchstick squash. I think the ceviche would be more effective with thinner slices. Overall, I consider this another successful challenge!