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First course with lamb burgers and fries?

I could use some ideas for a first course. This is a casual, in-the-kitchen dinner for 5. I'm making lamb burgers with pistachios which will be served on chickpea pancakes with a greens/onion/mint salad and tahini yogurt sauce. I don't want to repeat those flavors by serving hummus or the like, but don't want to go off into the Italian tastes that are my default. Any ideas? It can be somewhat complicated but please no really obscure ingredients. Thanks in advance.

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  1. How about a simple squash soup? The curry flavour is quite mild, or you could use a hint of fresh ginger instead.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jenni899

      I agree. A squash or a currried sweet potato soup would go well with your meal plan.

    2. cucumber salad? little mint, shallots maybe, feta, black olives....

      7 Replies
      1. re: mariacarmen

        Sounds good, but I'm already doing a salad with the burgers so would not want to do another. I like the soup idea since it is supposed to be rainy, but that still leaves me without that something you give people to much on when they arrive. I'd like that to be something more than a bowl of nuts or such...maybe something that picks up on mariacarmen's mention of feta.

        1. re: escondido123

          Ah, so you're really talking about an app or an hors d' ? What about a mixture of olive and feta cubes in olive oil? Simple but I sure love that :)

          ETA: BTW that sounds crazy good!

          1. re: c oliver

            Well the soup sounded so good, I decided to add that to the menu. Love the easy idea of olives and feta, if I added to that some roasted peppers I've got an app! Thanks so much all.

            1. re: escondido123

              Something else to add to that Greek appetizer platter besides roasted peppers, feta, & olives - some tinned stuffed grape leaves. They're quite good - in fact, I ALWAYS have some in the pantry for impromptu app platters or salads or snacking. Just chill them & serve with a few squeezes of lemon on top. Can be found in either the pickle area or the gourmet food area of most supermarkets.

              1. re: Breezychow

                We can get fairly fresh ones that are in the deli section which are not canned and quite fresh. For this particular dinner, I wanted little for the app since there was so much food. As it turned out, no one had room for dessert as it was!

            2. re: c oliver

              that sounds crazy good too! with some good crusty bread to sop up....

              yep,escondido, missed that about your salad.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                My husband makes a great loaf of bread every other day, and Sunday he'll make a new one so perfect.

        2. roast some red and yellow peppers, slice and dress with evoo, chopped black olives, fried lemon peel and chopped parsley. great do-ahead and delicious room temp.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Fried lemon peel sounds great. Never heard of that before.

          2. How about some roasted chickpeas? More special than a typical bowl o' nuts nuts if you make your own spice mix on them, and very different than chickpeas in your pancakes, I suspect?

            To rounds things out, I like the idea of olives and feta....maybe an oven-roasted tomato relish and some crostini or crackers as well?

            7 Replies
            1. re: 4Snisl

              I'm already making chickpea pancakes for the burgers, but the olives and feta seems like a winner.

              1. re: escondido123

                We were in DC several months ago and went to a local farmers market. A cheese vendor was selling cubed feta with some sort of seasoning (maybe peppercorns; can't remember now) in olive oil, in a jar. I brought one home with me :)

              2. re: 4Snisl

                Could you elaborate on roasted chickpeas please?

                1. re: c oliver

                  Certainly, c oliver! Like peanuts, the roasted and (only) boiled counterparts of chickpeas are so very different from each other.

                  You basically toss cooked, well-drained/dried chickpeas(either from a can or soaked/cooked from dry) in a little olive oil and roast them in a hot oven (about 400'F) for about 45 minutes till they are well-browned and completely crisp. Stir/shake the pan every once in a while for even cooking. Then remove from the oven, and while hot, toss with seasonings. (I particularly like smoked paprika, granulated garlic, salt , cayenne and fresh lemon zest.)

                  I want to hear more about the chickpea pancakes, escondido! Do they start with cooked chickpeas? Raw, soaked chickpeas? Roasted chickpeas? ;)

                  1. re: 4Snisl

                    As I said, this is from Mark Bittman's newest cookbook--which I heartily recomend--though I changed it a bit for what I had on hand. Canned chickpeas(though you could certainly cook your own), tahini sauce or tahini/lemon/olive oil all in the food processor. Egg and then some flour, along with cumin and some chili powder, beaten in by hand. When I started out they were too dry and would crack easily, so I added in the liquid from the chickpeas and another egg until I got more of a heavy crepe batter and they fried beautifully on the griddle with a little olive oil. First time served them with an agrodolce browned zucchini with pistachios and feta on top, tomorrow I will make them a little thicker for the burger "buns." The leftovers from the first time around became a wonderful snack when lightly heated and spread with a tahini yogurt mix. Now my mouth is watering. PS Onine I've seen the recipe for the same basic idea made with besan--chickpea flour.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      Thanks for the details! I must have missed your earlier reference to the recipe source in this thread.

                      It's especially nice to know that they are also good leftover.....hope you have a wonderful party!

              3. I had a gorgeous butternut squash soup at a restaurant, with crumbled bleu cheese and pistachios (very little of them) on top. I might never get over it! I was going to suggest tabouleh, but you do mention that you have a salad planned.