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Lahanorizo (Cabbage and Rice)

Get a large amount of vegetables in just one dish with Lahanorizo (la-ha-NOH-ree-zoh), a healthy meal made in just one pot.  Lahanorizo, meaning cabbage and rice, perfectly melds together with leeks, garlics, and spices. A drizzle of lemon juice at the end of the cooking process finishes Lahanorizo with a nice pop. Fill up on one of the healthiest dishes in Greek cuisine.

This recipe will make about 6-8 bowls worth, so you can either half the recipe or keep for leftovers. One of my favorite ways to repurpose this dish after a day or two is to rewarm on a skillet, crack a couple eggs and make cabbage fried rice.

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Lahanorizo
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan/Lenten/Main Meal
Serves: 6-8 bowls
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 leeks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small head of white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water, or more if needed
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
Instructions
  1. Cut and remove the stem and core of the cabbage. Clean and slice the cabbage in half and slice each half to create quarters. Thinly slice into small strips. Set aside.
  2. Use just the white and a small portion of green parts only of the leeks. Carefully clean the leeks by peeling the layers apart under a stream of water, and cut them into thin rounds. Set aside.
  3. Now, add half the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and leeks until tender and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes.
  4. Add the cabbage and the remaining olive oil to the pot. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until cabbage has reduced to about half. Season with salt and pepper and occasionally stir throughout.
  5. Add uncooked rice and mix well with the cabbage mixture. Allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Dissolve tomato paste in ¼ cup warm water and add to the pot, along with the tomato sauce. Stir around and add the vegetable broth and water.
  7. Cover the pot with a lid (leave the lid off slightly) and cook for about 30-35 minutes. Be sure to constantly check on the pot and stir occasionally (stir from bottom).
  8. Add more salt and pepper if desired, or what you prefer. I add more chili flakes here because I like the extra kick. Be sure to constantly check on the pot and stir occasionally. Add more water if needed.
  9. Once the cabbage is soft, rice is cooked, and the liquid absorbed, remove pan from heat. Allow to rest, uncovered for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  10. Stir in lemon juice and enjoy.

 

Arakas Latheros (Pea and Potato Stew)

Think you need to cut carbs to lead a sound diet? Think again. Vegetables are a great source of healthy carbs, and the combinations are endless. Arakas latheros (pea stew) is a Mediterranean staple with peas prepared in rich tomato sauce, herbs, carrots and potatoes. Arakas latheros is healthy, flavorful and simple as it is delicious.

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Pea and Potato Stew
Author: 
Recipe type: Lenten/Vegetarian
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces peas (frozen or fresh)*
  • 1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 cup white wine (optional)
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over low heat and add onions and carrots. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add in the garlic and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes.
  2. Add potatoes to the pot, season generously with oregano, salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are lightly browned.
  3. Add the wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate, about 2 minutes.
  4. Then, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Once you’ve reached a boil, turn down the heat to low to medium and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Be sure to stir occasionally and check for flavor. Add water or more vegetable broth if necessary for more liquid. I prefer more sauce, so I add more liquid here to cover the vegetables. If you prefer a thicker stew, remove the lid halfway through the cooking process to hasten thickening.
  6. Gently stir in the peas and dill to the pot. Again, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer until the peas have warmed through.
  8. Garnish with dill and serve warm with bread.
Notes
*Frozen peas work well with this recipe, as most peas are frozen right after harvest. If you’re using fresh peas, keep in mind you’ll need to cook them longer.

 

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Greek Olive Tapenade

Chunky texture with robust flavor, mixed Greek olive spread is the perfect dip to keep on hand. The only con about this dish is that I never make enough of it. Spread on sandwiches or serve with your favorite cracker type, vegetable, or bread.

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Greek Olive Tapenade
Author: 
Recipe type: Dip
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) pitted Kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) pitted green olives*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 basil leaves, lightly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Drain the olives and finely chop into consistent small pieces.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the olives, garlics, basil, and oregano. Mix well.**
  3. Stir in olive oil and red wine vinegar and serve.
Notes
**For an extra bite and color, use pimento stuffed olives.
**You can also pulse all your ingredients in a food processor, but I have found chopping by hand works best and creates a better texture.

 

Vegan Paximadia

Nistisima Paximadia (Vegan Biscotti) is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth during Orthodox Lent. Made by substituting bananas in lieu of dairy products, this treat is arguably better than the real thing.

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Vegan Paximadia
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan/Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 loaves
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup orange juice*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 small overripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5-5 ½ cups sifted flour
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or sliced almonds (if preferred)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.
  2. Peel the banana and mash well into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add vegetable oil, orange juice, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl and beat well with a whisk or an electric hand mixer. Beat well until smooth.
  4. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder) and add slowly fold into mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Make sure the ingredients are combined until a soft, but sticky dough forms. Incorporate the dark chocolate chips if using.
  5. Divide the dough into 5 parts and place on baking sheets. Shape the dough into long loaves, that are about 2 ½ inches wide and 1 inch thick. Smooth the tops and the sides of the dough with your hands or a wet bowl scraper.
  6. Score the loaves with a serrated knife (I like this so it is easier to cut through later). Cut lengthwise into ½ inch diagonal slices.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes and remove from the oven.
  8. Let the loaves cool for 5-10 minutes, and cut through the precut slices. Lay the cookies cut side down and bake for another 10-15 minutes, turning the cookies over at the halfway mark. Note, the cookies will get crispier the longer they bake—so this is all preference! The cookies will harden even more as they cool as well.
  9. Once ready, take out of the oven and cool. Enjoy!
Notes
*I prefer fresh squeezed oranges or orange from concentrate (don’t dilute before using for more flavor)

 

Vegetable Soup

This vegetable soup uses a little this and a little of that. My papou (grandfather) Pete Saltas would make it using whatever vegetables he found in the kitchen. Some call this the “kitchen-sink soup” because everything and anything goes in (except the kitchen sink).

To make this soup, start by giving the base vegetables a quick sauté, then just keep adding veggies to create layers of flavors. Don’t put everything in the pot at once and try to let each vegetable or vegetable combos cook alone for awhile before adding the next one. And as you should always do with soups or stews, the trick is to simmer your meal low and slow so flavors blend together. A Greek cook might call this process pantremeni, which means “to be married.” Start with tougher vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and cabbage, and then add those that take less time to cook such as mushrooms, tomatoes, and zucchini. For the broth, use a combination of vegetable stock, tomato sauce, olive oil and water. Depending on your own tastes, you could also add some red wine, or red wine vinegar, even tomato juice.

The point is, flavor is subjective–you can always start with this basic blend, then on future pots, add or subtract to your own preference. Just make sure your vegetables are always covered with liquid. Season with salt, pepper and plenty of oregano. Cook until the vegetables are tender, and you’re satisfied with the taste. And remember, soup always tastes better the next day.

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Ingredients:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup mini sweet peppers, chopped
½ cup cauliflower florets
½ cup broccoli florets
1 small cabbage, or ½ large head, finely shredded
1 zucchini, cubed
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 (32 ounce) vegetable broth, more if needed
4 to 6 cups of water, more if needed
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons dried oregano
A pinch of crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
Red wine vinegar, for serving
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:
1. Start by prepping your vegetables, having them cleaned, chopped and ready to add to the pot. For the cabbage, cut and remove the stem and core of the cabbage. Clean and slice the cabbage in half and slice each half to create quarters. Thinly slice into small strips.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, and sprinkle with pepper and oregano to taste. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage and vegetable broth to the pot. Let it cook alone for 30 minutes or, the longer the better, I think. I do this because I think cabbage gives a special flavor to soups and I want it to dominate. Next add broccoli and cauliflower and let those cook into the soup. Pour in as much fluid as needed to cover the vegetables. You’ll keep adding more vegetable broth and water along the way as needed. Cook this round of vegetables for approximately 20-30 minutes, to build flavor.
4. Add the remainder of your “softer” vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add bay leaves and chili flakes, and season well with salt, pepper, and oregano. Add vegetable and water to cover the vegetables.
5. Continue to slow simmer for 1 hour (or as long as you can), or until the vegetables have softened and you’ve reached your desired taste and soup thickness level.
6. Stir in the red wine vinegar at the end to taste. Top with chopped Italian parsley.

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Add extra flavor or liquid:
This vegetable soup has a mild flavor to fit most palates. Here are a few ideas of additions you can add:

-For a spicy kick add V8 juice (I prefer spicy V8), a hot sauce such as tabasco, or simply use more chili flakes.
-Tomato sauce will keep your soup neutral.
-To sweeten things up, a couple squirts of Ketchup works nicely.
-Other vegetable ideas include eggplant, peas, corn, potatoes, celery—whatever you like or have lying around. Just judge what you think should go in at any given time. For example, add the celery to sauté at the very start, and add eggplant the same time as you would zucchini. And so on. Try it and have some fun!

Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions

When you’re short on time and don’t want to sacrifice flavor or nutrition, quickly whip up sautéed mushrooms and onions. With the versatility of mushrooms, you can serve this dish in almost any way you can imagine–eaten plain, on toast, atop steaks, in pasta–sautéed mushrooms and onions is a winner every time.

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Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound mushrooms
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme
½ cup vegetable oil or white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Directions:
1. Thoroughly wash and drain the mushrooms.
2. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once warm, add mushrooms and thyme. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook in pan for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add onions and garlic and allow to cook together for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the vegetable oil, give the pan a stir, and cover the pan with a lid. Allow to cook on low to medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until mushrooms have cooked.
5. Towards the end of the cooking process, stir in chopped parsley. Serve warm.

Serves 2

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Grandma Noodle Soup

Grandma’s chicken noodle soup is easy, creamy, delicious, and full of great flavors. Best on a cold winter day, or when you’re in need of a hearty comfort meal.

Ingredients:
32 ounces chicken broth*
1 pound Grandma’s wide egg noodles**
1 cup chicken breast, diced or shredded into bite sized cubes
3 stocks celery, diced (about ¾ cup)
1 cup carrots, sliced into rounds
½ yellow onion, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 fresh lemons, juiced

*If soup looks too thick, add more broth, or water. When reheating the soup, you will also need more broth or water, as the soup will thicken as it sits.
**Grandma’s wide egg noodles are typically found in the frozen section at grocery stores.

Directions:
1. Bring chicken broth to boil and add the diced chicken breast and bring to a boil.
2. Add the celery, carrots, and onion to the pot and cook until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. When the chicken is nearly done, stir in the lemon juice.
4. Add the egg noodles, making sure the noodles are thawed and separated before adding to the pan. Cook until the noodles are soft. Add more lemon if desired.
5. Serve warm and enjoy!

 

Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Sauce

Here’s another dish brought to you by Yiayia Saltas: Lahanodolmades (cabbage rolls). Traditionally made with an avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce on top), my yiayia has always served hers with a rich tomato sauce that brightens up the rolls and creates depths of flavor. They are a perfect comfort dish that can be a stand alone meal, or served alongside a leafy salad or your favorite soup. These rolls are great warm or cold.
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Ingredients:

For the stuffing:
2 medium heads of cabbage
1 ½ lb ground beef
1 cup rice (or more rice if you prefer)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or to taste
1 teaspoon dried mint
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce:
15 oz tomato sauce
15 oz petite diced tomatoes
8 oz ketchup
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ cup olive oil
water or beef broth, if needed for extra liquid

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil (enough to submerge cabbage). Wash the cabbage, cut the stem and place in boiling water, stem side down. Parboil until the outer leaves are tender and can easily come off. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
2. With a ladle or slotted spoon, carefully remove the leaves one by one and place on a baking pan or strainer to cool.
3. Meanwhile, make your stuffing. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, and garlic. Season with dried oregano, dried mint, and salt and pepper. Mix everything altogether until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl, make your sauce. Combine the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, ketchup, oregano and olive oil and mix well. Mix in one cup of the tomato mixture into the meat mixture. Set aside the rest.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
6. To assemble the cabbage rolls, cut the veins from the bottom of each cabbage leaf, creating a V shape. With any broken or too small of leaves, place them on the bottom of a baking dish.
7. Place the leaf cut side up and add 1 tablespoons of the meat mixture at the end. Fold in the sides of the leaves and roll up. Repeat until all of the cabbage leaves are used. Place the rolls snuggly in the baking dish, and ensure there are no gaps. Try to fit as many in a single layer. Cover the top with a few cabbage leaves.
8. Top the rolls with the tomato sauce. Add more olive oil or water if needed for extra liquid. You want the rolls to be mostly covered in liquid. Place an inverted plate on top of the rolls keep them submerged and snug while cooking.
9. Bake for 1-1 ½ hours, or until cabbage rolls are tender.

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Vasilopita (New Year’s Cake)

When the clock strikes 12:01 into the New Year or any time on New Year’s Day, many Greeks will slice into a vasilopita, a New Year’s cake made with the typical fixings of a cake (flour, sugar, eggs), and spiced with orange juice or the baker’s choice of add ins (raisins, walnuts, mastiha are all common). A layer of powdered sugar dusts the top of the cake once cooled. Traditionally, a coin is inserted into the cake either before or after baking. When it comes time to serve, the fortunate individual who finds a coin in their slice (careful when eating!), will have luck for the rest of the year. Happy New Year! καλή χρόνια

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Ingredients:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ cups orange juice (preferably fresh if available)
1 orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Grease two 9 inch round cake pans, or one large 12 inch springform cake pan. You can also line the pans with wax or parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs in one at a time and mix together. Then, mix in the orange juice, orange zest and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and nutmeg. Slowly incorporate flour into the wet ingredients with mixer on a low speed. Use a spatula if necessary, so you are careful not to over mix. The dough should be smooth and not too sticky.
5. Pour batter into pre greased pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a thin knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean and the cake is springy to the touch.
6. Allow cake to cool at least 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. If adding a coin for New Year’s, invert the cake onto a wire rack. Wrap a coin in aluminum foil and insert it into the cake by slicing into cake with a long, thin knife.
7. Flip back over and dust the top with powdered sugar. If preferred, add a design or number of the year by using stencils or paper cut outs. You can even decorate the cake with pomegranates, sliced almonds, or frosting.

Tirokroketes (Fried Cheese Balls)

Gooey on the inside, crunchy on the outside, tirokroketes (fried cheese balls) is an  irresistible appetizer that will leave guests wanting more. For this dish, I use three different types of cheese: feta, graviera, and gouda. The three types play well together and creates great flavor. Eat plain, dunk in your favorite dipping sauce, or squeeze a lemon on top before serving and enjoy!

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Tirokroketes (Fried Cheese Balls)
Author: 
Recipe type: Meze/Appetizer
Serves: 14-16 balls
 
Ingredients
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 oz graviera cheese, grated*
  • 4 oz gouda, grated
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • pepper, to taste
  • all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • vegetable oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, add the feta, graviera, gouda, eggs, and milk. Combine mixture well and season with pepper and paprika. If the mixture looks too runny, add in bread crumbs.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, to allow the mixture to firm up.
  3. When the cheese mixture is ready, add some flour to a bowl or plate. Form the mixture and roll into balls, about golf ball sized. Then, roll the balls into flour and set aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fry pan, to 350F/180C. Once hot enough, drop the cheese balls in batches so the pan isn’t overcrowded. Fry cheese balls until nicely colored and golden on all sides, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy!
Notes
*If you cannot find graviera cheese, you can use pecorino Romano, Parmesan, or Gruyere.

 

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