The 25th of March is the Greek National Independence day and also the feast of the Holy Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. Now I won’t go into the stories of these 2 events, but I will discuss what Greeks typically eat on this day…Yes, it’s all about the food.
We continue to be in the fasting period, and this day is one of the few days that fish is allowed. Greeks typically eat fried salted cod, bakaliaro and skordalia (a type of garlic dip). Obviously, fried salted cod doesn’t sound too healthy but if you think about it, it isn’t that bad. Cod is low in fat and calories so even frying it will not really make it excessively calorie rich. A healthier alternative with less salt, is using fresh cod baked in the oven with tomatoes, onions, parsley, olive oil and garlic and, my mom adds raisins, also known as bakaliaro plaki.
As for the skordalia, I have to say that it is definitely potent but delicious. Skordalia is also served with boiled beets, complementing each other perfectly. You can call skordalia a dip, but personally I believe it is too strong to just serve as an appetizer with bread sticks. Apart from the beets, this sauce usually accompanies the cod or is cooked together with pork or rabbit. It needs a strong wine as well.
Skordalia is like other Greek dips; rich, healthy, full of antioxidants, in this case from the garlic and olive oil (and walnuts if you add them). Skordalia can be made with potato, bread or with a combination of walnuts (sometimes almonds) and bread. Potatoes will give you a smoother consistency, while the bread skordalia will be a bit grainier. And no, skordalia does not contain cream. The recipes below are slightly changed versions from the traditional cookbook Hrisa Paradisi.
Traditional Greek Skordalia (Garlic and Potato Dip)
- Peel the potatoes cut in cubes and boil in water until soft, about 15 minutes
- Once boiled, strain and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.
- In a food processor process the garlic cloves with a bit of salt until it is a paste.
- Add ½ of the olive oil in the food processor and continue mixing.
- Add the garlic paste to the potato and mix with a wooden spoon.
- Add the rest of the olive oil gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until oil is absorbed.
- Add a bit of red wine vinegar for taste, mix well.
Skordalia with Walnuts
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 2 ½ ounces of walnuts
- 1 large slice stale bread
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1. Grind the walnuts.
2. In a food processor process the garlic cloves with a bit of salt until it is a paste.
3. Add the walnuts to the garlic paste and mix well.
4. Soak the bread (without the crust in water and vinegar) and then squeeze well.
5. Mix the bread with the walnuts and garlic mixture. Mix until smooth.
6. Add olive oil gradually until olive oil is absorbed.
7. Add a bit of red wine vinegar for taste.
Photos by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved