THE culinary spotlight is on Middle Eastern cuisine today, bringing Kanawha City's Aladdin Restaurant on stage as my second recommended all-around great place to eat.
The Chesterfield Avenue establishment has many good-for-you menu selections that appeal to all ages. I don't know where to begin.
It would probably be easier to list the two or three that are slightly on the edge - perhaps fried or with a richer sauce.
An always-fresh hummus (we once had to wait for it to be prepared and delivered to the table), grape leaf rolls, thick and flavorful lentil soup (aim for one-half cup), eggplant spread, tabbouleh (lemon-enhanced wheat and parsley mixture) and one of the best Greek salads (dressing on the side) in town are there to munch on while waiting for the remainder of dinner to arrive.
The hummus is accompanied by wafer-thin pita triangles, so there isn't a lot of loading up on bread.
The entrees are lean, yet moist and tender. If you like life a little caliente (hot), you can't go wrong ordering the shish tawook - a mysteriously spiced and marinated grilled chicken kabob. I've been after owner Ayman Hossino for years for that recipe. It's a game - I ask and he laughs.
Other menu goodies that fit the diet are a variety of mixed salads (some include a protein); regular and vegetarian moussaka; chargrilled salmon, chicken and shrimp; gyro - seasoned beef filet kabobs alone or in combo with poultry and seafood; and broiled trout.
Each dinner comes with sides of green beans, simmered with tomato and onion, and fluffy white rice. I omit the rice and double up on the beans.
The only menu change I would ever ask them to consider is to add multigrain/whole wheat pitas and brown rice. If they do that, I may never leave.
Today's chicken kabobs aren't spicy, but are speedy and uncomplicated and good to consider when searching for a quick entrée.
The chicken gets a zippy taste from the marinade. I know it's November and your grill may be in cold storage, but some of you fanatics (son-in-law Rob being one) grill all year long. If you prefer fairer weather, use your broiler or stovetop grill for the kabobs.
Think about alternating cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, squash and onion with the chicken bites. You could eliminate the middleman (kabob skewers) and grill, broil, bake or pan-sauté the whole tenderloins (not cut bite-size) off the stick. Either way, the chicken goes well with the rice.
A salad from ready-to-go bagged greens, a little cucumber, halved grape tomatoes, sliced radishes, grated carrot, thawed frozen peas, reduced-fat feta and a few olives, tossed with some of the vinaigrette, would round out your plate.
Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs