All posts tagged: health

Fasolada (Greek Bean Soup)

Considered a national dish of Greece, fasolada represents the country’s frugal and healthy style of cuisine all in one bowl. Made with a hearty combination of white beans, chopped vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, a handful of herbs, and a robust sauce, fasolada is a meal meant to last for days. Though fasolada is traditionally a thick soup, I like more sauce to mine, as I do with most soups and stews, because that equals more opportunity for bread dunking. And who doesn’t love carbs soaked in sauce? Complement fasolada with a salty side dish, such as anchovies, feta cheese or your favorite olive type. Save Print Fasolada (Greek Bean Soup) Recipe type: Vegetarian/Lenten Serves: 6-8 bowls   Fasolada, the national dish of Greece. Ingredients 16 oz white navy beans (I prefer medium or large sized) ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 yellow onions, diced 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds 4 celery stalks plus their leaves, chopped 5 garlic cloves, minced 16 oz tomato sauce (or tomato passata) 2 tablespoon tomato paste 6 …

Fanouropita (St. Fanourios Cake)

There are hundreds of saints in the Greek Orthodox Church that can be called upon for special purposes or during times of need. The three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian, are called upon for help in studies. I wish I had known that during my anatomy classes. Believers pray to St. Nicholas of Myra for safe travels. Instead of using Advil for a headache, they ask the Holy New Martyr Demas to intercede. There are saints we pray to for help in finding a job, getting pregnant, having a safe childbirth, and there are saints to help when we are in distress. Have you lost something and need help finding it? There’s a saint for that too. Saint Fanourious (from the Greek word fanerono meaning “to reveal”) intercedes to help us find lost possessions and to reveal life paths and goals. Like all Orthodox saints, Saint Fanourios has his own commemoration date each year. On August 27th, his name day, cooks bake a special cake in his honor …

The Greek Frappe

Water used to be the only fluid I needed to get me through the day. Then I went to Ionian Village and realized I needed something stronger than water. I needed a Greek FRAPPE. All day, every day. Ionian Village, a summer camp in Bartholomio, Greece, brings together over 40 staff members and hundreds of teen campers from across the United States, giving them an experience of a lifetime. Ionian Village strengthens faith, teaches Greek culture, creates epic memories, and even supplies coffee. I was a camper in 2008 and a staff member in back-to-back summers of 2013 and 2014. Serving as a staff member gave me the best experiences of all. It’s also when I drank the most frappes in my life. Staff members work two 20-day sessions from June to August. We cranked through lots of late nights and early mornings because it’s always on-the-go time. You can’t really call it work because eating Kyria Sophia’s delicious Greek food and supervising junkyard wars, music fests, and themed dance parties totally rocks. On travel …

Greek Chicken and Potatoes (Kota me Patates)

Motherhood: A lifetime of answering the question “what’s for dinner?” Or at least that’s my mom’s definition. I never realized how often my mom was questioned about what we would be eating until I started getting into cooking myself. Then, those same texts and calls came at me: “what’s for dinner?” In my house, the answer to that question more often than not is Greek chicken and potatoes (kota me patates). It’s a great fall back meal of ours and should be yours too. For starters, it’s a one-pot dish with easy prep work and cooking time is not unbearable. Second, it’s a filling meal that goes a long way, so you only need to add a Greek salad or any other favorite side dish of yours to go along with it. And finally (which should be reason enough to make this dish) is the satisfaction of seeing the faces of loved ones when you serve those perfect golden potatoes and crispy seasoned chicken. So what are you waiting for? There’s no reason to get …

Pete’s Tzatziki

Go to your fridge right now and open it up. Do you have a bowl of TZATZIKI in there? If yes, pat yourself on the back. If you answered no, you are missing one of life’s great go-with-everything dips. Tzatziki (tsa-TZEE-kee) ranks as one of my favorite dips. Also known as “that white stuff,” you’ll find it smothered on gyros (pronounced YEE-rohs, not GY-rohs, please) and is made of thick Greek yogurt, fresh cucumbers and herbs—plus a generous amount of garlic that will sneak up on you whether you (and anyone near you for the next three days) like it or not. As much as I love eating tzatziki, I’m more of a tzatziki eater than maker because my brother, Pete, has dubbed himself the tzatziki king in our family. Pete won’t let anyone else make it. He won’t even let anyone watch him make it. He’s never shared his recipe with anyone until now. I basically had to start a blog and beg him for it with the promise to make him famous to …

Fava (Yellow Split Pea Puree)

Santorini is known as the beautiful Greek island with white-washed homes, marbled streets, blue domes and dazzling views. Situated perfectly in the Aegean Sea, it boasts some of the most breathtaking sunsets in the world. Santorini is a must visit. Besides the stunning beauty, Santorini is famous for producing the best yellow split peas in Greece. Tavernas all over the island use those split peas to create an island favorite—FAVA. Do not confuse this dish with fava beans. However fava (FAH-va) got its name, it’s a simple puree of yellow split peas, onions, olive oil and herbs, and is a well-known Greek meze. You can serve this filling dip creamy (by using a blender) or chunky (served directly from the pot) depending on your liking. To give extra flair and flavor, serve your fava with a variety of side garnishes, such as diced red onions, feta cheese, capers, chopped parsley, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or anchovies. Fava goes great when dipped with crusty bread, or when eaten plain as a side dish. Smooth, warm, delicious, …

Yiayia’s Orzo (Kritharaki)

Nothing brings a smile to my face quite like seeing my Yiayia Saltas walk up the driveway carrying a pot of orzo. She makes me a batch nearly every month. She makes it for me when my parents go out of town, when I’m sick, or just because it’s a Tuesday. And when I say she makes it for me, she technically brings it over for my entire family but I’m always the one who hoards the pot and gobbles it down the fastest. It’s that good. I’ve eaten YIAYIA’S ORZO so many times that I never bothered to learn how to make it. I always figured she would make it for me. Then, after going without orzo longer than usual, I left her a voicemail to say I was craving a batch. She immediately texted—yes, my super hip and tech-savvy 91-year-old yiayia texted me back— “Let’s make it together, it’s time you learned on your own.” So, we made orzo together, and now you are one lucky duck reader and cook. Yiayia’s orzo is …

Yiayia’s Lamb Stew

Growing up, a winter snowfall meant braving the weather to make snow angels, build snow forts, and endure intense snowball fights with my brothers. But now, when the temperature drops lower than 40 degrees and the weatherman even mentions an approaching snowstorm, all I want to do is bundle up indoors with blankets and put something warm in my belly. My yiayia’s lamb stew always does the trick. My yiayia is probably a lot like yours. They love with their whole hearts, constantly nag us to get married, and would never let us leave their house hungry or empty handed. Yiayia Saltas makes me an egg sandwich whenever I visit, sends me home with a large bowl of orzo, brings spanakopita to all of our family parties, and still has time to play bingo twice a week while hitting “like” on all of my Facebook posts. My yiayia seems to be cooking all year round but it’s her winter dishes that keep me warm and stir my deepest memories. Her lamb stew, so hearty and healthy that it’s perfect on a cold winter day, ranks …

Dakos (Cretan Rusk)

Of all the different regional foods I’ve tried along my travels in Greece, Cretan cuisine is by far my favorite. From the most rural villages to cities like Chania, you’ll find dishes layered with fresh herbs, cheese, vegetables, and plenty of olive oil—these key ingredients create simple but flavorful dishes. One of the best representations of the Cretan cuisine is dakos, a traditional meze (appetizer) that I could eat daily and never get tired of. Similar to Italian bruschetta, dakos is made with a twice-baked bread rusk that is hard as nails, meaning before serving you must reconstitute with water or olive oil to soften it. In Crete, rusks are most often barley based, but wheat or rye based is also common. It’s the toppings that make the dish so memorable. For Cretan dakos, the rusks are topped with juicy tomatoes (preferably fresh from the vine), plenty of cheese (Cretan mizithra, feta or other soft cheese) and garnished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and oregano. Complete the dakos with a Kalamata olive …

Make Your Own Cheese

Everything tastes better in Greece. Maybe it’s because when I’m there I can take the time to sit back, sip some Greek coffee and savor the food. Or maybe it is because the tomatoes truly are juicier, the fish is always fresher, and all the pites (pies) are locally baked. Whatever it is, whenever I return to the States it seems my taste buds go dormant until my next visit. I miss the tastes of Greece. Most of all, I miss all the varieties of fresh cheese. Cherished throughout Greece, cheese makes an appearance at nearly every meal: cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served as mezes, plain or with olives, fried, or baked in pies. While feta has already won over the culinary world, many Greek regional cheeses have yet to be championed. Set your sights (and your taste buds) on Graviera, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Kefalograviera and halloumi—all are versatile cheeses for nearly any occasion. Then there’s ANTHOTYROS, a soft Greek cheese that’s similar to ricotta cheese and often associated with the island of Crete. …