So as you may have noticed cheese is really important in our home, but also in the Greek diet. Since traditionally Greeks did not eat much meat, cheese played the role of protein to go along with all those vegetable dishes. In fact, according to the USDA and other sources, Greece has the highest consumption of cheese per person in the world (yes more than the French), at 71 pounds a year which corresponds to 3 ounces a day (which isn’t that much really). That’s because it is actually an important component to the meal, especially feta which makes up most of the cheese consumed in Greece. 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 »
Since I am in a summer tomato mode, I thought I would share a second tomato recipe this week: and that is tomato jam. At an expo a few years ago there was a presentation of the Greek breakfast and a version of it from several parts of Greece. Everything was delicious and one of the dishes was Greek yogurt with tomato preserves. It tasted wonderful.
Tomato preserves require more time and uses the smaller cherry tomatoes, but I had some larger tomatoes and opted for an easy tomato jam recipe. Read more »
These are probably my favorite vegetable based patties (tomatokeftethes). I don’t exactly know why, but I think it has to do with the fact that they have tomatoes and are an island summer dish. I especially like them because they are so simple: tomatoes mixed with a few herbs and that’s it!
These are a so tasty, they are a meze on their own. Although I’ll gladly eat these for lunch, accompanied by a dollop of nice creamy strained yogurt (also known as “Greek” yogurt outside of Greece). They are also perfect for vegans since they are nistisima, meaning that they contain no animal products (the yogurt is optional). And this is the beauty of Greek food: out of almost nothing (tomatoes and a few herbs) they make these wonderful delectable dishes that satisfy your taste buds, hunger and nutritional needs. Read more »
One year I remember we stayed for a whole month at my father’s village in Ahladokambos with my grandma (yiayia) and grandpa (pappou), we were in the process of moving and my parents were looking for a place so they thought our time would be better spent at the horio (village) rather than crowded Athens.
I remember that time fondly now, but back then those were long days. At that time the village was not very accessible, and my grandparents did not drive so we had to be creative with how we spent our time. We walked all over the village every day acting like explorers. The villagers who would meet us would ask us: “tinous eise esy?” which translates whose are you? Meaning who are your parents. So we would explain, and then they would get all excited: “Oh from America?” and they would tell us all their memories of my dad when he was young. We went shopping at the little grocery store, which was fun to get there, but than you had climb up the steep hill to get to our house which was at the upper village. Other activities included reenactments of Jesus Christ Superstar with my then teen sister, visiting the yard next door which included lamb, goats, chickens and a donkey, helping my grandma make hilopites (Greek pasta) and of course eating. Read more »
I would like to continue where I left off from my previous post about beans; it is significant that a simple eating habit such as eating a cup of beans can help us lower our cholesterol levels, but also maintain our blood sugar levels as well as help us lose weight since beans are filling due to the fiber and protein. And let’s not forget the antioxidants.
Here in Greece we are in the holy week, the last week before Easter. While traditionally the religious fast starts about 40 days before Easter, most Greeks nowadays will not be fasting for all those days, however the majority of Greeks still fast (avoid animal products with the exception of some seafood) the week before Easter, so it seemed fitting to share this easy bean recipe. Read more »
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal showed that individuals who consumed 7 or more servings of vegetables a day had a reduced risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.
While we know that the traditional Greek diet was mostly vegetarian due to the religious fasts, but also to economic reasons, today Greeks have moved away from their traditional diet eating a more westernized diet, but surprisingly still consume plenty of vegetables. In fact, according to a 2010 OECD report, Greece has the highest consumption of vegetables per capita in Europe based on supply and production, however it is mostly older Greeks that still eat more vegetables. Here is how we do it: Read more »
I came across this idea in a magazine ad featuring the restaurant owner Donatella Arpaia, who mentioned spicy roasted olives as an appetizer idea. I had never had roasted olives other than in a cooked dish, so this seemed very interesting yet simple.
You can use a mixture of olives, but I have a bunch kalamata olives that my sister had handpicked and prepared herself, so I used some of those. I made mine more “greek style” using Greek herbs such as oregano, garlic, parsley and lemon rather than making them spicy.
This recipe is really easy and these are best enjoyed right out of the oven. They give a burst of taste, because the roasting brings out the flavor. Serve them with an aperitif for something light to bite on when having a drink. Read more »
Lagana is a type of flatbread that is eaten in Greece only on Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera). This particular Monday is basically the first day of lent for the Greek Orthodox religion. Nutritionally it is important because it marks the beginning of the 40-day fast, which ends on Easter. It is called “clean” because it was considered a day of cleansing oneself (spiritually) and preparing for the fasting and the mourning. People ate plain fish roe (taramas), bread, beans (without olive oil) and other vegetables. Read more »
Last Thursday was what we call Tsiknopempti (rough translation smoking Thursday) which basically celebrates the beginning of Mardi gras or as it is called in Greece apokria. Apokria actually means “away from meat” as the word carnaval. The real meaning of Tsiknopempti is that it is supposedly the last day before Easter one can eat meat, after that you can still eat dairy until Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera) which is the official start of Greek Orthodox lent and the beginning of the 40 day fast where most animal products are not allowed (see here for what is allowed during Greek Orthodox fast).
With that in mind, I made this Greek style grill cheese. Feta cheese, tahini (sesame seed paste), kalamata olive tapenade , olive oil and oregano all on whole wheat bread. There is no meat but provides a good amount of protein, I grilled it under the grill in a mini oven I use, for a few minutes and it is perfection. Read more »