“Another bite” is a series of occasional posts about food, presenting the delicious local products, tasty dishes and other gastronomic delights we encounter on our tours and cruises.

parmenterIn recent years, it has been our privilege to welcome Ian Parmenter as a guest on several of our tours and cruises in Turkey and Greece. Born and raised in Britain, Ian moved to Australia over 40 years ago and has become a bit of a celebrity there, especially through his Consuming Passions programme, which ran on Australian television for a decade and was syndicated worldwide. Although some publications label him as a “celebrity chef”, he prefers to be called a cook and describes himself as “a passionate foodie”.

On our tours (he has – so far – joined us on our Gastronomic Gulet Cruise in Turkey, Exploring Crete tour, Cruising to the Cyclades and Exploring Athens tour), Ian takes a very lively interest in the cuisines of the regions and places we visit. On the boats, he has been known to actively participate in preparing the food, treating us to some very fine meals.

…and apparently, his 2014 travels with us have been inspiring – on returning home, he wrote the following recipe, which he has kindly permitted us to reproduce here. Over to Ian:

“In the wake of the fabulous Peter Sommer tour of the Aegean islands comes this recipe, inspired by Captain of the Aegean Clipper, Ergün Malatyali and his crew, and our guide, Heinrich Hall…”

Ian’s Aegean Lamb with orzo and vegetables

If I were into dirts, dusts, foams, and other pretentious menu descriptors, I’d probably call this a ‘deconstructed moussaka’. It is not, though it does include many ingredients which feature in the classic of Greek cuisine. This dish is quicker to cook, and doesn’t have the usual cheese as part of it. An alternative to using tomatoes out of season is to just use tomato paste. Orzo – or risoni – is an alternative to rice and you can make two-tone colours as follows…

parmenter aegean lambServes 4 as main, 6 to 8 as appetiser

Ingredients
1 medium eggplant
Salt for dredging
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
600g minced lamb (or you could use beef)
1 large or 2 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp white pepper
2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic
600 ml or so of good stock
2 small zucchinis cut into thin strips
2 tsp chopped fresh dill or mint or both (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 cup + 2 tbsp orzo (NB: Italian orzo can be replaced with its equivalents from Turkey, arpa ?ehriye, or Greece, kritharaki)
2 cups water

1 cup orzo (see above)
2 tsp olive oil

Preparation

Slice eggplant into 1 cm thick slices. Dust with salt and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes to remove bitter juices. Wash, drain and dry on paper towel.

Cut into thin strips.

Cook minced lamb in a little olive oil to change its colour to a light pink. It doesn’t need to be thoroughly cooked at this stage. Add chopped onion, carrot, garlic, pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for 5 minutes to soften.

Add stock and tomato paste and cook slowly until a thick sauce is achieved (about 30 minutes). Stir in fresh or dried herbs.

Meanwhile, in another pan, fry eggplant for a few minutes, then zucchini. Remove.

In same pan, put a couple of tablespoons orzo and over medium heat, allow to brown. Add cup orzo and 1½ cups water and a little salt. Cover and cook over low heat.

Note: check after a few minutes. If mixture is too dry, add more water. If too sloppy, remove lid and allow to dry a little.

Time to serve: on warm individual plates put cooked orzo, add meat mixture, top with eggplant and zucchini, garnish with extra mint and dill (optional).

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