Main Course

Greek Inspired Chickpeas Cooked in Tomato Sauce

Garbanzo chickpeas

I would like to continue where I left off from my previous post about beans; it is significant that a simple eating habit such as eating a cup of beans can help us lower our cholesterol levels, but also maintain our blood sugar levels as well as help us lose weight since beans are filling due to the fiber and protein. And let’s not forget the antioxidants.

Here in Greece we are in the holy week, the last week before Easter. While traditionally the religious fast starts about 40 days before Easter, most Greeks nowadays will not be fasting for all those days, however the majority of Greeks still fast (avoid animal products with the exception of some seafood) the week before Easter, so it seemed fitting to share this easy bean recipe. Read more »

Traditional Greek Roasted Salted Cod with Onions, Tomatoes and Raisins-Bakaliaro Plaki

bakaliaro plaki

This recipe is one of my mother’s specialties and I have fond memories of eating it back in Chicago when I was a little girl. This is basically salted cod cooked in tomato, onions and raisins and accompanied by potatoes. Yes, I know-I know, it is another strange dish for a kid to like, but like I’ve said my mother only cooked Greek, and that’s what I grew up on.

The dish is known as being a Peloponnesian dish (from the area of Peloponissos in Greece) where my mom and dad are from. It is of the few Greek dishes that use fruit in a savory dish. The story goes that salted cod was first imported by the English and in exchange they were given Greek raisins. Korinthos another area in Peloponissos, was and is known for their raisins and according to George Mazos a Corinthian black raisin producer and owner of Golden Black, Greeks were in fact supplying the English with raisins so it seems that the two ingredients were somehow combined to create this wonderful dish. Now, although fish was available on the coastal areas of Greece, for the mountainous regions even on some islands fish was not so accessible, so salted fish was common as was salted cod which also lasted for a long time. Read more »

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with a Touch of Ouzo

Lemon garlic ouzo shrimp

I like having frozen shrimp on hand, it cooks quickly and with the addition, of simple basic Greek staples you have a complete meal. Combine with some carbs such as pasta, rice or orzo and you have a nice meal. Add a salad or some cooked vegetables and you are set.

Greeks often combine shrimp with feta (as I did here) but it also goes well with ouzo. For this recipe I added the olive oil and lemon (ladolemono) plus garlic and dill. Read more »

Juicy Roasted Greek Meatballs – Keftedakia

keftedakia Greek meatballs

For someone who prefers mostly vegetable based dishes, there is one red meat dish that I will always say yes to: Keftethakia. Bite-size (or a little bit larger) meatballs made from ground beef or usually ground pork or sheep or a mixture, along with all those tasty Greek herbs (especially fresh mint as both my grandmothers used) and then fried in olive oil, today it is mostly beef.

The meat was ground at home if you were lucky enough to have a meat grinder. There was plenty of stale bread added, along with a few eggs which stretched the meat to feed a lot more people. Read more »

Greek Lemon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Greek Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

I do not know one Greek person who does not like this dish. It is comforting, delicious and reliable. It was a typical Sunday noon dish and along with a salad and some cheese it makes up a complete meal, fit for company.

Today, chicken may seem a “lesser” dish to offer to guests, but that was not always the case years ago in Greece. Chickens were not so easy to come by, you either had your own hencoop which you occasionally “sacrificed” a chicken for a meal, but that was not very often as they would rather keep the chickens for their eggs. You also could find some live chickens at the open market, but they were not cheap as there were simply not many of them. There were no commercial chicken houses. And after you bought the chicken or took it from your backyard you had to deal with whole other process of preparing it for cooking… So not really an easy dish in the old days. Read more »

Greek Chicken Cooked in Tomato-Kotopoulo Kokkinisto

Greek Chicken-Kotopoulo Kokkinisto

So I’m back! Every time this year I attend the Food and Nutrition Conference organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association). As I am the President of the International Affiliate (American Overseas Dietetic Association), I attend the conference and participate in several of the activities there. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the next post, but for now I need talk about one of my favorite Greek meat recipes: Kotopoulo Kokkinisto. While I look forward to visiting the U.S., after a few days I do miss the tastes of Greece, and one of them is the kokkinista dishes. Kokkinisto, refers to the method of cooking in tomato sauce. Read more »

Greek Orzo (kritharaki) with Shrimp and Feta

Greek Orzo with shrimp and feta and ouzo

Comfort food almost everywhere usually involves some sort of pasta. Orzo known as kritharaki or manestra in Greek is usually cooked and consumed together with some sort of meat or protein making the classic dish yiouvetsi (go here for a simple version), and often served for Sunday lunch.

For this recipe I did not cook some big piece of meat, and I did not even need to use the oven. Having been under the weather for a few days I was looking for a meal that was easy to make, hearty and comforting. Read more »

Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Tomato-A Recipe from Crete

Zucchini Cretan style

I have been coming across this Cretan recipe lately: whole zucchini stuffed with garlic roasted in the oven with tomato and olive oil. While I roast zucchini in the oven, it is usually with something else such as in stuffed tomatoes or in briami (the Greek version of ratatouille). But I found this recipe interesting because the zucchini itself is the main ingredient.

I was attracted to this recipe not only because it uses zucchini, which is in season right now, but also because of its simplicity. It takes a few minutes to prep and then you just put it in the oven.

Zucchini is generally a popular ingredient in Greece: you find it in many casseroles, they use it to make zucchini patties (try these for a baked version), they slice them and fry them for an appetizer (try the a non-fried version here), they stuff zucchini flowers with rice or cheese and lightly fry them and of course they make zucchini pies (kolokithopita). Read more »

Sun-Dried Greek Style Roasted Okra in Tomato Sauce

Bamies-Okra

Ok I have to confess, when I was little, okra (bamies in Greek) was one of my favorite dishes. Yes, you may consider this weird, but after tasting them you will understand why. Okra combines savory and sweet along with the tomato and olive oil perfectly. It was filling and satisfying and surprisingly comforting.

While this is usually made as a stew, known as bamies latheres, (you can see the recipe here), I like the roasted version more. I’ll make it during the summer when okra is available fresh, and make the stewed kind when I only have frozen okra available.

So okra in Greece is small, it is harvested when it is small, the smaller, the better. It is also important that when it is cooked, okra does not open and there is no liquid coming out, so there is no slicing like you would see with gumbo recipes where those juices are needed for the texture. The roasted version works great because it helps keep the okra intact. Read more »

Greek Inspired Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana

Yes this is also known as eggplant parmigiana or eggplant parmesan, and you would think it is made with parmesan cheese. Well it isn’t. This dish is actually a southern Italian dish that I enjoyed (a lot) while being in Sicily, and it is not from Parma nor is it made traditionally with Parmesan cheese. Most likely the name comes from the word parmiciana which meant in sicilian dialect a set of strips of wood that form a shutter, the same way the eggplant slices are placed one on top of the other.

Now, when you come across eggplant parmesan in the U.S. and other places, it usually contains tons of cheese, breadcrumbs, flour and eggs and you end up hardly tasting the eggplant. And that is a shame because eggplants are delicious and with so many health benefits. Although there are many variations, the basic form consists of eggplant, tomato sauce, olive oil, cheese and basil and that is what I have used as well. Read more »