Pomegranates have a special place in Greek culture, they represent good luck, fertility and prosperity. For the New Year it is very common to bring (and receive) a gift of a silver pomegranate for good luck throughout the year. At weddings it is common to smash and break a pomegranate so that the marriage is fertile. Curiously enough, the pomegranate is also associated with death as it is supposed to symbolize re-birth after death. Ok… Read more »
Sometimes Mediterranean inspired recipes appear in the least likely of places. We were visiting my in-laws and I found a cookbook from the 70’s called The Williamsburg Cookbook which includes recipes from Colonial Williamsburg’s taverns and restaurants. There are plenty of colonial recipes, but this recipe caught my eye: with the simple title Zucchini with Walnuts, the ingredients brought me straight to the Mediterranean. Read more »
When attending large food and nutrition expos like FNCE, one thing you notice is that the expo floor is huge. Especially in the U.S. you have hundreds of booths that represent companies, national boards and commissions and since it’s an expo for nutritionists there is a lot of free food and samples. Yes, we nutritionists like to eat. Read more »
I attended last week (as I do every year) the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, as an active member and Past President of their international affiliate, it can get pretty busy. And this year I was also a presenter , my session focusing on working overseas.
The conference took place in Atlanta and needless to say I was looking forward to trying the food. Read more »
It is really hot in Athens these days, it reminds me of the vacations we would take every summer in Greece. My first memories of Athens is when we stepped out of that plane, you could feel the heat hitting your skin. We were so happy to be there that we didn’t mind the heat or the smog, we were in Greece! And in those days there really wasn’t air conditioning either, so you experienced a real summer not a sheltered one. In the evenings we would sleep with the balcony doors open and some people would even sleep out on their balconies, yes even in Athens. And with this heat fruit is the only thing you want to eat … and yes maybe a little cheese. Which is what we are eating today. Read more »
Beans, not the green kind but the ones also known as pulses or legumes are such an important part of the Greek diet. Whether they are used in soups. patties, roasted or stewed, the flavor is something that is highlighted along with the other ingredients. Greeks don’t hide their beans in pasta sauce nor do they mix them in salads. Beans take center stage in the Greek cuisine. Read more »
Zucchini is a vegetable I associate with the summer, so we have a constant supply the whole season. We’ll typically use them in briami, or add them to lathera, or bake or fry them. As I mentioned Greeks love using zucchini in many ways. Here is a simple (and not so common)recipe that works very well as an appetizer or even as a side dish: cheese filled zucchini. Read more »
I don’t know where to start with the dakos. It is delicious, it is healthy, it is the ultimate representation of the Mediterranean diet, straight from Crete.
First of all it’s been described as a Greek bruschetta, but it isn’t, it is a bit different. Here’s what it is: Dakos specifically refers to a recipe that uses the famous Cretan barley rusks. These rusks are made with whole grain barley flour, water and salt. They are super hard and super healthy. Also dakos includes olive oil, tomato, and crumbled cheese, traditionally this cheese is Cretan mitzithra but you often see it (outside of Crete) made with feta. Read more »
Tabbouleh is such a great salad. It combines all the classic ingredients of the Mediterranean: tomatoes, cucumbers. herbs (parsley, mint), olive oil and lemon. While it is not a Greek dish, it definitely combines ingredients common in the Greek cuisine and I love it!
So there are many different versions, I tend to like the one with more parsley and less bulgur, although in the photo it seems like I added less parsley (I ran out). Also the original recipe uses bulgur (in Greek we call it pligouri) a cereal made from the kernels of wheat, which maintains much of its bran and therefore is a good source of fiber. When I decided to make this over the weekend to photograph it, I did not have bulgur on hand and just used couscous instead hence the photo, although I much more prefer it with bulgur- healthier and tastier. Read more »
Pites are what Greeks call their pies that are made with vegetables or cheese surrounded by layers of phyllo. Phyllo can mean the thin sheets of phyllo you find in the frozen section of the super market, or homemade phyllo (dough) which most women in Greece would roll out when they made a pita. It is just one layer of dough, kind of like a pie crust but thinner and more tender. It is sturdier than the thin is phyllo sheets and is better for pites that may be a bit more liquidy. It usually requires flour, olive oil, salt and kneading. Being short of time, I generally do not roll out my own dough and instead use the phyllo from the super market. The good thing about the phyllo that I find in Greece is that it contains no fat and just flour and salt. That is what you should be looking for as well. Read more »