Appetizers

Greek Veggie Patties-Favokeftedes

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I remember when I came across my first meatless burger, and I cannot say that I was particularly excited. For starters I did not like the taste and why would I eat something that contains highly processed ingredients but yet acts like it is healthier than a regular burger?

But wait a minute, veggie patties have always been an important part of the Mediterranean diet; falafel, the chickpea fritters and the Greek zucchini fritters (kolokithoketedes) come to mind. In the Greek cuisine there are also tomato patties, wild greens patties, onion patties and several patties made with beans. They often call these patties pseudo-patties (pseftokeftedes) because they do not contain meat and therefore are not “real” patties. These patties were popular on the Greek islands and are usually served as a meze or appetizer but as part of a main meal as well. Read more »

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Roasted Figs Stuffed with Feta Cheese

feta figs

The scent of a fig tree always reminds me of summers in Greece. At my father’s village, there was a big fig tree in the back garden, we enjoyed its shade all those hot summer afternoons and we waited patiently for those figs to mature so we could eat them. My father remembers fondly that very same fig tree, which was the largest in the village by the way, and his father (my grandfather who lived over 100 years) who would go out to the garden and pick the figs first thing in the morning so that they could eat them for breakfast.

Figs are known as an important food for the ancient Greeks. They were part of their “food ideology” because they were produced in Greece and therefore represented loyalty but also frugality and the simple life. Read more »

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Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

sundried tomato tapenade I’ve posted recipes for other tapenades in the past and every time I do I learn something new. At first I noted that tapenades are a Provincial French ingredient, then upon further research I find out that olive tapenade may have its origins in ancient Greece.  And now upon further research I find another Greek connection: the word tapenade comes from the word tapeno, which is what a caper bud was called in Provençal. The capers would be crushed giving tapenade. So the original tapenade was made mainly of capers. Now capers appear to have been brought to Provence by the Greeks who founded Marseille in 600 B.C., so there is your Greek connection. Also the word caper comes from the Latin name capparis, which actually comes from Greek word kapparis (caper in Greek). Read more »

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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 »

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Lush Tomato and Caper Salad

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Just got back from Sicily and wanted to share some first experiences along with a quick and simple recipe. I have been to Sicily before and fell in love with the humble cuisine so representative of the original Mediterranean diet.

Tomatoes, my favorite ingredient of all time were everywhere; in sauces, on pizza, with meat and fish and of course quite simply alone. But sometimes it comes along with capers and the result is beautiful. Capers from the islands of Pantelleria and Salina off the coast of Sicily are considered the best in Italy. These capers are not stored in brine but rather packed in salt. Read more »

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Juicy Roasted Tomatoes with Oregano and Garlic

Roasted Tomatoes with oregano & garlic

Last summer I posted a group of tomato recipes (check them here and here) once tomato season was here. This year, I continue. I really can’t get enough of the tomato. In the winter we have various forms of tomato in our home; tomato sauce, paste and sun-dried tomatoes, but in the summer it’s all fresh. We basically eat tomatoes almost at every meal, and try to use them everywhere.

This recipe is simple but so delicious. It uses the basics of Greek cuisine: tomato, olive oil, dried oregano, garlic and some breadcrumbs. That’s it. Read more »

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Tender Greek Roasted Beans in Tomato Sauce –Gigantes Plaki

Gigantes Plaki

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 »

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Tomato-Feta-Greek Yogurt Phyllo Tart

Tomato feta phyllo tart

I like all sorts of tarts, pies, pites (Greek savory pies), but I do not like having to make the crust, or using the ready made crusts that usually contain some sort of unknown vegetable fat along with 10 other ingredients. But I do like phyllo, here in Greece you can find different types of phyllo: thicker types, with olive oil, very thin etc. But I use the regular kind, which only contains flour and corn starch, so I don’t feel so bad, brushing it with olive oil later. Read more »

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Santorini Fava Bites – Yummy Mini Appetizers Made from Yellow Split Peas

Fava Bites

Yes, these little rounds are made with yellow split peas also known as fava in Greek (do not confuse these with the broad bean that is called fava bean). Greeks call these yellow split peas fava but they also call fava, a puree that is made with these beans along with olive oil, onion and some lemon. You can check the authentic recipe here. It is served often as an appetizer and it tastes great plain or with a bit of bread. Of course it is extremely healthy since you are having a meal of legumes rich in fiber, antioxidants and protein accompanied by the good fats from the olive oil. Read more »

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Greek Style Baked Zucchini Chips

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One of my all time favorite appetizers at a Greek tavern are kolokythakia tiganita (fried zucchini) with tzatziki for dipping. I generally don’t fry that much at home, and if you don’t either, you can enjoy these by baking them.

When baking sometimes you need some extra ingredients to add more taste and a crust. So I crushed regular Greek rusks this time (I will try crushed barley Cretan rusks next time), panko can also work well. Don’t use very fine breadcrumbs because they will not make a nice crust. I added herbs typically used in the traditional zucchini patties such as mint, parsley and dill. Also a touch of parmesan will help form the crust. Read more »

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