When I was growing up in the US, Thanksgiving was one more reason to have a trapezi. Trapezi literally means table in Greek and it means to invite people over for a nice meal. So during Thanksgiving my mom would make things like corn or sometimes a small amount of yams and then most likely Greek style chicken and potatoes or on some occasions stuffed turkey with a Greek style stuffing. We did not really have things like casseroles or cranberry sauce. In Greek cuisine you do not often see a combination of sweet and savory, so a sweet potato dish with brown sugar or maple syrup would not be very welcome particularly for the older generation Greeks. Read more »
Breadsticks in Greece are consumed and made in a slightly different way than they are in Italy. Greeks call breadsticks kritisinia from the Italian word for breadsticks grissini. Now in Greece these types of breadsticks are not consumed as something before a meal, they are not really part of the traditional Greek cuisine. However, nowadays you find them everywhere: bakeries have a bunch in different flavors and supermarkets carry all sorts (whole grain, with sesame seeds, with nuts, with olives or other flavors). They differ from the Italian type as they are thicker, heartier and usually contain much more olive oil. Greeks eat them as a snack, just plain or maybe with some cheese. Read more »
Beans are such an important part of any diet, regardless of what type of diet you want to follow. They are a food that combines so many qualities; it is filling, it has protein, it has slowly digested carbohydrates, it has antioxidants and it has fiber. These nutrients are not only healthy, as beans have been shown to protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer, but beans are also the ideal food for those trying to lose weight. Eating small amounts keep you full and satisfied for a long time. Read more »
Eggplant has always been one of my favorite vegetables as you may have noticed from the number of recipes I have posted here, but it is also well honored in the Greek cuisine. So as we still have warm weather here in Athens, I’m trying to hold on to whatever days of summer are left, and that means eggplant dishes.
For this recipe, I knew there existed some sort of eggplant pie; some with yellow cheese and some with meat, but I basically wanted cooked eggplant, tomato and feta wrapped in phyllo, and that is what this is. This is basically a turnover filled with a tasty eggplant mixture that includes tomatoes, onions and garlic sautéed in a bit of olive oil along with crumbled feta. Read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »