Go for gold with London Olympics 2012 theme for this week's meals

Mon | Meatless meal

At Stir Crazy this week, we're going global to celebrate the London Olympics with food that can be eaten in front of the TV. Our weekly meatless meal comes from the cookbook Food for Friends by Levi Roots, who has a prime-time BBC cooking program. Caribbean Tamarind Chickpeas (recipe below) served over rice is a melange of island flavors, including tamarind paste. Look for it at Asian markets and if you can't find it, the recipe includes an easy substitute.

Tues | Le cordon bleu

Make this tweaked French classic, an Open Face Monsieur, and serve with a lightly dressed salad of peppery arugula and tender baby lettuces. To make the sandwich, preheat broiler. Broil sturdy bread slices on each side until lightly brown; about 2 ½ minutes total. Spread with a mixture of mayo and Dijon mustard (or spring for a bottle of Dijonnaise). Top with 2 slices Canadian bacon, thin tomato slices and a few tablespoons of shredded Swiss cheese. I like Gruyere. Broil until cheese melts.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Asian-Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps make good use of your store-bought bird, plus they are easy to eat while rooting for your favorite competitor. (There are medal rounds today for men's all-around gymnastics and lots of swimming finals.) Remove the meat from the chicken, dice fairly small, then heat with diced red pepper, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots along with sliced scallions. For a whole chicken, you'll need to season with ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger and 2 cloves minced garlic. Heat through and serve with soft butter lettuce leaves for the wraps. Crushed peanuts are a good garnish.

Thurs | Numero Uno

Make like you're at an Italian soccer game and serve Meatball Sliders, a mashup of American convenience with Italian flavors. On small rolls, load up cooked meatballs with hot red sauce and shredded Romano cheese. Serve with a green salad loaded with veggies and dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, of course. For dessert? Store-bought gelato.

Fri | American gold

American food tends to borrow heavily from other cuisines but we do like to claim the Cheeseburger as a red, white and blue icon. Grill some patties and drape with American cheese, then garnish with sliced tomatoes, lettuce and onions plus mustard and ketchup. Add pickles on the side and a big scoop of potato salad. It might not be what fuels athletes, but it's pretty good eats for those of us cheering them on.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com and (727) 893-8586.

>>MODERATE

Caribbean Tamarind Chickpeas

1 to 2 teaspoons sunflower oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

1 ½ inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

½ butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 jalapeno, seeds left in or removed depending on how hot you want the dish

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk

3 teaspoons tamarind paste (see note)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

Cooked rice for serving

Pour the oil into a large pan that has a lid and place over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes, until soft. (Do not brown.) Meanwhile, cut the stalks from the cilantro into small pieces. Reserve the leaves for a garnish and other uses

Put the ginger, squash, cilantro stalks, chili, rinsed chickpeas, tomatoes, coconut milk and tamarind paste (or see substitute below) in the pan with the softened onion and garlic. Lightly season with salt. Put on the lid and leave to simmer over a low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it is ready, the squash should be tender and the flavors well melded. Adjust seasoning by adding more salt or a pinch of sugar. Serve over cooked rice.

Note: Tamarind paste can be purchased at Asian markets. To substitute, mix lime juice, white wine or rice vinegar mixed with equal parts of light brown sugar.

Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Food for Friends by Levi Roots (Mitchell Beazley, 2012)

Go for gold with London Olympics 2012 theme for this week's meals 07/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 5:30am]

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