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A Meal From The Mediterranean

When New York chef Ivy Stark began to think about her "Chef on a Shoestring" segment, her mind wandered — all the way to Europe.

Stark, whose new Manhattan restaurant Amalia features dishes inspired by the Mediterranean, decided to create a "Shoestring" menu featuring foods that are familiar but have an exotic accent.

Her Mediterranean Carrot Salad has chopped vegetables and a light, lemony vinaigrette, and is topped with olives, oranges, honey, almonds and orange water.

The meatballs are made of ground lamb and topped with a Moroccan-style yogurt sauce. And the dessert, a strawberry semifreddo, is at once sweet, cold, frothy and fruity.

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The best news? You can make this menu for three friends — and it won't set you back more than $40.

MEDITERRANEAN CARROT SALAD WITH GREEN OLIVES AND ORANGE

Ingredients:
1 lb. sweet carrots, peeled, and sliced into long ribbons
1 small red onions, thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, finely sliced
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 cup pitted green olives, sliced lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
1 head butter lettuce
1 orange, supremed
fresh mint leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
toasted slivered almonds

Method:

  1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, orange peel, coriander and honey in large bowl to blend.
  2. Add carrots, red onions, fennel, and radish and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in olives. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  3. Stir salad to redistribute dressing. Garnish edges of plate with butter lettuce, orange supremes, almonds, mint leaves and cilantro.
  4. Mound carrot mixture in center of plate, drizzle with orange flower water.

LAMB MEATBALLS WITH CUCUMBER-MINT YOGURT AND COUSCOUS

Ingredients:
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and ground
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
2 cups yogurt sauce (see recipe)
Couscous

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in milk. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, almonds, soaked bread crumbs, onion, raisins, egg, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and chili pepper flakes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle olive oil onto a sheet pan you will place the meatballs on and rub oil into the palm of both hands.
  3. Form meat mixture into meatballs 1/2-inch in diameter. The recipe makes about 30 golf ball-sized meatballs.
  4. Heat oven to 400, place meatballs on a baking sheet and cook about 12 minutes until heated through.
  5. Serve warm over couscous and drizzled with yogurt sauce and, parsley and sesame seeds.

To Make Moroccan Yogurt Sauce:

Ingredients:
1 cup yogurt
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely grated
1/4 cup mint, minced
3 tablespoons lemon zest, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Place the yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Allow to drain at least two hours to overnight.
  2. Toss the cucumber in 2 teaspoons salt and place in a sieve to drain for at least two hours.
  3. Combine in a medium bowl, the yogurt, cucumber, mint, and the preserved lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

STRAWBERRY SEMIFREDDO

Ingredients:
2 pints strawberries
3 egg whites
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh rhubarb, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar

Method:

  1. Puree one pint of the berries in a blender until smooth.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine strawberry puree, egg whites and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. With the whisk attachment, beat until frothy and light, about 2 minutes.
  3. Very gradually add sugar to mixer and mix thoroughly.
  4. Fold in whipped cream by hand with a rubber spatula.
  5. Place in freezer for one hour. Remove and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Place in a spring form pan lined with plastic wrap; return to freezer and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, slice the remaining pint of strawberries; toss with the remaining vanilla, the lemon juice the rhubarb, and the 1/2 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes until rhubarb is tender. Chill.
  7. When ready to serve, remove semifreddo from freezer and let sit at room temperature 5 minutes. Unmold, sliced into wedges and top with sliced strawberry and rhubarb mixture.
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