- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Pork souvlaki has the classic souvlaki marinade and is grilled on skewers. Rick Rodgers says he doesn’t skewer vegetables with the meat because he finds the vegetables are always overcooked by the time the meat is done.

The time in question here? Under half an hour; the recipe Mr. Rodgers is talking about is from his latest book, “The Carefree Cook” (Broadway). The souvlaki is one of the 150 hassle-free recipes the book promises for everyday cooking, ranging from appetizers to desserts.

Although many of the recipes in the book can be ready for the table quickly, others will simmer and roast at a leisurely pace. What the recipes have in common is their ease of preparation.

Mr. Rodgers suggests serving his chopped Greek salad along with pita bread instead of grilling vegetables for the souvlaki. Adding to options, he also points out that the souvlaki can be cooked on an oiled broiler rack in a preheated broiler. Cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the pork is cooked through, about 12 minutes. The lemon-onion marinade, “which is nothing short of terrific,” Mr. Rodgers says, is great with lamb and swordfish, too.

Pork souvlaki

The preparation and cooking times are under 30 minutes.

2 pounds center-cut boneless pork loin

cup chopped onion

cup fresh lemon juice

cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon dried oregano

teaspoon salt

teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained)

Trim the fat from the pork, and cut it into 1-inch cubes.

Puree the onion with the lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Pour into a zip-tight plastic bag and add the pork cubes. Refrigerate to marinate while you prepare the fire, or for up to 24 hours.

Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill, and let it burn until the coals are covered with white ash. (Or preheat a gas grill on high.)

Thread the meat onto the skewers, leaving a little space between the cubes. Lightly oil the grill. Grill the skewers, turning occasionally, until the meat is well-browned and looks barely pink in the center when prodded with a sharp knife (10 to 12 minutes).

Remove the pork from the skewers and serve hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chopped Greek salad with feta and olives

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 garlic clove, crushed through a press

cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeds and ribs removed, cut into -inch dice

2 kirby cucumbers, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, cut into -inch dice (or use English cucumber — no need to scrub or discard seeds)

2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into -inch dice

2 scallions, white and green parts coarsely chopped

cup crumbled feta cheese (see note)

1/3 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pulse the vinegar, oregano and garlic in a blender to combine. With the machine running, gradually add the oil through the top vent.

Combine the bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, feta and olives in a medium bowl. Add the dressing; mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Serve chilled. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: Feta cheese, made from sheep’s milk, comes from many different countries, and the quality varies greatly. You are more likely to find a good feta at an ethnic food store or cheese shop than in a supermarket, Mr. Rodgers says.


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