Mediterranean Meals

Beef Loving Texans makes some healthy Mediterranean meals

SAN ANTONIO - The summer's winding down and it's almost time to send the kids back to school. Let's not count the days, but make the days count with Mediterranean Beef Pitas and Mediterranean Braised Beef

Beef Loving Texans has the perfect balanced and delicious meal to pack into your child's (or your own) lunchbox: Mediterranean Beef Pitas with Yogurt-Cucumber 

Ingredients
•    1-1/2 pounds top round steak, cut 1 inch thick
•    1-1/2 cups nonfat plain Greek or regular yogurt
•    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
•    1 tablespoon minced garlic
•    1 medium cucumber
•    Salt and pepper
•    6 white or whole wheat pitas
•    3/4 cup plain or seasoned hummus
•    10 cherry tomatoes, quartered or 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
•    1/3 cup halved Kalamata olives
•    3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Preparation
1.    Combine yogurt, lemon juice and garlic in medium bowl. Place beef steak and 3/4 cup yogurt mixture in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or as long as overnight.
2.    Meanwhile, cut cucumber in half lengthwise; cut one half crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and reserve. Chop remaining cucumber half into 1/4-inch pieces. Add chopped cucumber to remaining yogurt mixture; season with salt, as desired. Cover and refrigerate.
3.    Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Place steak on rack of broiler pan so surface of beef is 2 to 3 inches from heat. Broil 13 to 18 minutes for medium rare (145°F) doneness, turning once. (Do not overcook.) Carve steak into thin slices. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.
4.    Spread pitas with hummus. Evenly top with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and steak slices. Sprinkle with olives and feta cheese. Serve with reserved yogurt mixture.

Recipe Tips 
    
•    For an extra flavor boost, add your favorite topping, such as red peppers or pine nuts, to the hummus before spreading onto the pitas.
•    Even though August is late summer, we all know the Texas heat isn't gone yet. The light and fresh taste of this recipe makes the hottest Texas summer day just a little bit better. 
•    Pair with your favorite quinoa recipe or bean salad for even more fiber, vitamins and protein! 
•    Toss some of your favorite veggies in some olive oil and roast in the oven to complete your Mediterranean-style meal.
•    If you have someone in your family who's gluten-free, this recipe can be easily modified by using gluten-free pita bread as an alternative. 
•    Have leftover pita bread? Cut it into triangles and bake in the oven for some fresh homemade pita chips to serve as a side.

If you love Mediterranean flavors and the convenience of batch cooking, Beef Loving Texans has just the recipe for you: Mediterranean Braised Beef. 

Ingredients

•    1 beef shoulder roast, boneless (2-1/2 to 3 pounds)
•    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
•    2 small onions, halved, sliced
•    4 medium shallots, sliced
•    1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
•    1/2 teaspoon salt
•    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Preparation
5.    Heat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat beef pot roast with flour. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Brown pot roast; remove.
6.    Add 1-1/2 cups water and vinegar to Dutch oven; cook and stir until brown bits attached to pan are dissolved. Return pot roast. Add onions, shallots, dates, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover tightly and cook in 325°F oven 2-1/4 to 3-1/4 hours or until pot roast is fork-tender. Remove pot roast; keep warm.
7.    Cook liquid and vegetables over medium-high heat to desired consistency. Carve pot roast. Serve with sauce.
Recipe Talking Points 
    
•    Prepare this Mediterranean Braised Beef as a large batch and portion out in separate containers to keep your family fed all week long. 
•    If you don't have a Dutch oven, never fear! You can also make this recipe using a slow cooker or an Instant Pot – just make sure to consult the manufacturer's instructions for cooking times and safety instructions.
•    If you have leftovers, the recipe possibilities are endless: 
o    You can toast a couple slices of whole grain bread and make a Mediterranean-style Sloppy Joe or pair with a fresh salad for lunch. 
o    For dinner, pair the beef with roasted veggies or whole grain pasta, and always make sure to sprinkle with a little bit of crumbled feta for an extra Mediterranean touch.  
•    Balance the rich flavors of the beef with a light and fresh authentic Greek salad. Just combine cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, red onion and feta cheese with oregano and olive oil and enjoy with a slice of whole grain bread.  
•    I enjoy making this recipe not only in the summer time, but also when the weather starts to cool down. Whether it's the middle of August or right after Christmas, your family will know it's time for a delicious dinner when they see this on the table.

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