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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
This is a dish that really exemplifies the wisdom of Greek-Mediterranean cuisine. Beans were one of the main ingredients in the traditional Mediterranean diet, particularly for Greeks who due to the long periods of religious fasting (over 200 days a year) that prohibited most animal products, beans were the main source of protein. As a result, Greek cuisine has several bean dishes as main courses. One of them is known as Gigantes Plaki. Gigantes are a type of large white bean, the word gigantas in Greek means giant. Gigantes from several areas of Greece have a Protected Geographical Indication status due to the unique environment that these beans are grown in. If you can find these beans it is worth a try otherwise butter beans wil work. Read more »
Pasta and starches generally are part of the Mediterranean diet, that does not mean jumbo servings of pasta with creamy sauces, but pasta with mainly vegetable based sauces. Everyone can enjoy a moderate amount of pasta and still maintain their weight or blood sugar levels. However, the reality is that we are eating too many starches and not enough vegetables and fish. Well, this dish comes to the rescue: puttanesca sauce combines all the quintessential Mediterranean diet ingredients: tomato, olives, capers, garlic and anchovies (Lazio version). These are cooked in a small amount of olive oil and the sauce is then combined with pasta. Read more »
Pasta is considered a comfort food for most. It is also a favorite among almost everyone, especially kids. Many people associate the Mediterranean diet with plenty of pasta and assume that this type of diet will make them fat. Well, first of all looking at the traditional Mediterranean diet, pasta was not consumed in large amounts. In the Greek traditional diet pasta was perhaps consumed once a week while in Italy pasta is often consumed in small amount as a first course. And let’s not forget that the rest of meal was rich in vegetables. So no the Mediterranean diet is not about eating large bowls of pasta everyday.
I occasionally make pasta adding several vegetables and cheese. My favorite type of cheese to add to pasta that also reminds me of my childhood meals with both my grandmothers is dry Mizithra or aged mizithra. Aged mizithra is basically made from the leftover whey from the milk. Usually from sheep or goat milk. It is a spicy, salty and hard cheese ideal for grating. Apart from the flavor, it is generally a lower fat cheese, which means you can add a bit more and not worry about it too much. Brands that are exported are often made with less fat, some companies add cream. I have found a dry mizithra here in Greece with very little fat but with a lot of taste. Also dry mizithra is not to be confused with fresh mizithra. Fresh mizithra tastes different, and has a different texture as well. It is almost sweet and soft similar to ricotta. Read more »
This may simply be one of the healthiest meals you will ever eat. There is not one ingredient in this recipe that is not good for you. Everything in this dish will not only benefit your body but will make your taste buds happy too! Starting with the anchovies, which are an excellent source of the hard to find omega-3 fatty acids that may protect from stroke and from inflammation, and they are also a healthy source of protein. The anchovies are blended with a mixture of onions, garlic, oregano and olive oil. All these ingredients are excellent sources of antioxidants while the olive oil gives us an additional boost of the good monounsaturated fats that can help lower bad cholesterol.
With all this discussion about whether the moderate fat Mediterranean diet is better then a low fat diet, I will note that this is not a low fat dish. Over 50% of calories come from fat. But before you start panicking, let’s see what that fat is. Read more »