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 »
This is a nice and easy vegetable dish that really is a complete meal. Beans are one of the most important components of the Greek-Mediterranean cuisine, particularly during fasting periods. They are usually consumed 2 times a week as a soup or cooked (or roasted) with tomato and other vegetables, they also are often combined with greens. This combination is truly one of the most nutritious you can eat.
There are so many benefits to all the ingredients: spinach provides your vegetable serving along with fiber while the lentils are your source of protein, some iron and of course fiber. And all the ingredients including the olive oil and honey provide the antioxidants. Research has shown that beans provide improved glycemic control making them a good choice for diabetics, but also protecting from heart disease as they can help lower cholesterol levels. Read more »
Beets along with their greens are traditionally served here in Greece with skordalia, the delicious Greek garlic sauce. So wherever skordalia goes, beets go too. The beets were cut off from the greens and both were boiled in a large pot. Once they were cooked, they were served with skordalia, feta cheese and bread. This consisted of a whole meal. Yes, the beauty of the Greek diet, vegetable main courses. Many people think that beets are “fattening” because they are what we call a starchy vegetable.
Yes they are mainly carbohydrates, however they are a good source of fiber and they have very few calories: 3 ounces (100 grams) are about 40 calories. More importantly, beets contain several substances that can benefit our health. One of the them known as betaine is a nutrient that may protect from heart disease and stroke, research shows that it can lower homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine is related to a higher risk of heart disease. Beets also contain betalain, a substance with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Now since you are cooking beets, it is good to know that a Cornell study found that processed beets lose very little of their antioxidant activity, and phenolic activity (another beneficial substance) was actually increased. Read more »
Everybody knows the famous spanakopita also known as spinach pie, a combination of spinach and feta cheese. But something I like even more is a greens pie. It is one of the secrets of the Greek diet. Various greens mixed with herbs and a bit of feta (or not) tucked in layers of phyllo dough.
Within the traditional Greek diet, the consumption of greens, particularly wild greens contribute largely to the benefits of the diet. They are good sources of various antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These greens can be consumed boiled or cooked in olive oil and accompanied with lemon juice and feta, but also in pites (pies). Pites are a fine way to eat vegetables and even more so greens. And this applies to kids as well; my kids happily will eat 2-3 pieces in one sitting. Read more »
I first tasted this recipe when I was in Crete for a culinary event organized by the Cretan olive oil company Biolea. I was curious as to why they included avocado in an otherwise traditional Cretan menu. Discussing with the chef Giorgos Makris, he noted that although avocado is not part of the traditional Cretan diet, it has been cultivated in Crete for over 25 years now and they have developed ways and recipes to incorporate it with the rest of the traditional diet.
And they did it very well. Avocado, along with oranges, olive oil, lemon juice and cumin makes a very healthy, Mediterranean and flavorful salad. At first I thought it was too much to add olive oil to the already rich in (good) fat avocado. But surprisingly all the ingredients mingled well to make a fresh tasting salad. Read more »
When you go to a traditional tavern in Greece you often see on the menu salata epohis meaning seasonal salad, in other words salad that is made with seasonal vegetables. In the winter that salad is cabbage and carrot (lahano-karoto).
Everything is shredded very much like coleslaw, but the dressing is not mayonnaise based but as expected olive oil based. Typically this salad is served with an olive oil-lemon (or vinegar) dressing with an almost equal amount of each with a ratio of about 4:3 (olive oil to lemon juice or vinegar). It may be served with some black olives Kalamon for decoration.
Obviously this salad is super-healthy and filling. Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family along with cauliflower and broccoli. These vegetables are rich in certain compounds that appear to have anticancer effects, although it is still not clear to what extent. As with most vegetables, cabbage has very few calories, one cup has a mere 27 calories and it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate. Read more »
Broccoli and cauliflower are such misunderstood vegetables. They seem to be coupled with ingredients that are chosen to hide their taste rather than complement it: loads of artificial melted cheese and cream will do the trick. But when you combine broccoli with healthy ingredients such as garlic, olive oil and nuts the result is simply delicious. With that in mind I’m sharing this simple Mediterranean inspired broccoli recipe.
This particular time I found purple broccoli at the market. According to the farmer, this type of broccoli is an older variety in Greece compared to the green type. I wasn’t sure about that, but I bought it anyway as cruciferous vegetables and bright colored vegetables are full of antioxidants and other substances that protect from various diseases particularly cancer, and this purple broccoli fit the bill plus it was really pretty and the taste is almost the same as the regular green variety. Read more »
Well Thanksgiving is less than week away and while here in Greece it is not really celebrated apart from some hotels offering Thanksgiving dinner buffets, at our home we do celebrate it. Our Thanksgiving takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with turkey and a mix of traditional Thanksgiving dishes and Greek dishes as well.
One of my favorite ingredients is of course pumpkin. I like anything made with it. Pumpkin pie comes to mind, but if you would like to try something different this Greek savory pie won’t disappoint. The sweetness of the pumpkin with the spicy feta makes a perfect combination. While pumpkin is not typically associated with Greek cuisine, they do have several recipes for this versatile vegetable: obviously Greek pies, patties, preserves (gluko koutaliou) or they may marinate it in vinegar and use it in a salad. Just to clarify, Greeks call pumpkin glikia kolokitha (sweet pumpkin), but they also call zucchini kolokithaki. So kolokithopita may be a pie made with zucchini or pumpkin but today I’m sharing a traditional recipe made with “sweet” pumpkin, feta cheese and phyllo. Yes it is the same concept as spana-kopita (spinach pie) and tyro-pita (cheese pie). Pita means pie and can be sweet or savory, although they are usually savory. Read more »
My personal favorite way of eating eggplant is baked, combined with tomato, olive oil and feta. It is a simple, but flavorful recipe and I managed to make it lighter by lightly sautéing the eggplant and letting the eggplant slices strain on paper towels. Yes, you need to sauté them a bit, otherwise the skin will be hard, but leaving them on paper towels will help get rid of the excess oil. I also did not use too much olive oil in the baking dish, I just drizzled some on top of each slice as opposed to having the whole baking dish full of oil. Read on for the recipe Read more »
These are not traditional recipes a Greek yiayia (grandmother) would make, just some quick and easy recipes that are useful when you don’t have the time or the inclination to do too much, but want something healthy and that makes use of traditional Mediterranean ingredients. I make these when I have a lot of cherry tomatoes that have started to get wrinkly or when I have tomatoes that just don’t taste as great as I thought they would…READ ON FOR THE RECIPES Read more »