All posts tagged: healthycooking

Psari Plaki (Baked Fish)

Seafood rules the tables of Greece. With so many islands and close mainland coastal waters, the Greeks have a bounty of choices to bake, fry, grill, or boil. It’s understandable, in a country of such passionate cooks, that everyone has a preference, and the different types of seafood often require different types of preparation. Sardines are best fried, octopus tastes great off the grill, and a boiled fish soup always hits the spot when cool winds blow in off the Aegean. Lucky for us, seafood reigns as all important in the Mediterranean diet all over the world. My personal favorite at home, when I have fresh cod or any other firm white fish: PSARI PLAKI. Baked fish never had it so good. Before taking a further bite out of this recipe, let’s break down the name. Psari simply means fish, while plaki refers to a dish baked in the oven with olive oil and vegetables. Onions, garlic, leeks, and celery are sliced and sautéed, then diced tomatoes are added to round out the flavors, creating …

Spetzofai

Greek cuisine is a lot of things—healthy, fresh, flavorful, and unforgettable. Basically, the only thing Greek cuisine typically isn’t is spicy. Well, all except for my beloved Spetzofai. Spetzofai shouts with flavor, the colorful peppers and thick sausage making nice with the sausage. The spicy meter level depends on you and the peppers you choose. My personal spetzofai spicy meter is a solid ten, while my family’s is a five on a good day. So we settle on keeping this dish at a mild seven. Spetzofai includes a variety of red, yellow, green, and orange bell peppers for color, making it one of the prettiest dishes in all of Greek cooking. I add jalapeños (or even habaneros) for extra heat. You can leave out the spicy peppers if hot isn’t your thing, or add more if you dare. As for the sausage, just pick the variety you like. Stick to a single favorite or try a variety of sausages mixed together so that each bite offers a new surprise. Make sure to use one giant pan …

Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Salad)

There are a few things you should know about melitzanosalata. First, it’s a mouthful to pronounce, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed. (It’s pronounced meh-lee-tza-no-sah-LAH-ta). Second, although melitzanosalata translates into “eggplant salad” it can also pass as a dip or a spread. Finally, melitzanosalata is not only simple to make, it’s healthy, too. Melitzanosalata is an effortless dish with very few ingredients. The main ingredient is, of course, the melitzana (eggplant). Typically, the eggplant (I prefer the big round variety) is charred over a flame to create that smokiness that’s characteristic of melitzanosalata. You can also bake the eggplant in the oven to achieve a similar result, but if you want that true smoky taste—fire up the grill. Like the majority of Greek dishes, garlic is key to making melitzanosalata. It shouldn’t be too overpowering, but should still produce enough kick to let you (and people around you) know it’s there. Extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh parsley are also added to the mix. Some recipes may stop there—but this melitzanosalata recipe calls …

Shrimp Saganaki

Here’s one dish I don’t get enough of (and wish I did)—shrimp saganaki. I don’t make it very often since discovering my older brother, Pete, is allergic to shrimp and other shellfish. I will not be the one to send him into anaphylactic shock. I care for my brother’s well-being and I’m somewhat upset with him and his allergies. I want my shrimp! If you’ve ever tried shrimp saganaki, you’d understand. “Saganaki” refers to a variety of Greek dishes cooked in a particular, small, usually round, frying pan. Most of us are familiar with cheese saganaki, a dish that is set aflame and is put out by a splash of ouzo and a loud shout of “OPA!” (The flaming cheese saganaki was invented in Chicago’s Greek Town, no less—not Greece). There’s also a saganaki made with mid-size anchovies or smelts, wine, and fresh herbs. Despite my dad’s best efforts, I’m not an anchovy fan so I stay far away from that dish. When my shrimp allergic brother isn’t over for dinner, I make shrimp saganaki. …

Stifado me Manitaria (Mushroom Stifado)

My whole life, I’ve randomly craved a specific food or cuisine that eventually led to weeks of indulgence in it. A couple of years ago I went complete left field of Greek cuisine and made stir-fry every other day. Another time it was protein pancakes. Now it’s mushroom everything. Whenever I dine I order a mushroom omelet or mushroom burger, and at least once a week I’ll whip up a quick dinner of mushrooms, onions, garlic, olive oil and wine. It’s simple, tasty, and any leftover wine is always put to good use for drinking. Being mushroom obsessed, I began searching for different ways to cook the fleshy fungus, with a Greek style. That’s when I found a great recipe on “The Greek Vegan,” a blog by Kiki Vagianos that’s dedicated to sharing healthy Greek vegan recipes. Her MUSHROOM STIFADO it inspired me to make my own version. I couldn’t believe I had never thought to substitute mushrooms for the meat. Now those long days of fasting from meat will be much easier. My recipe …

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 …

Three Green Salads

Once a month, I get together with three of my friends—Whitney, Anna, and Kathryn to cook a meal for our “girls night in.” We don’t throw pillows around or get into the latest gossip. Girl’s night always revolves around eating and includes lots of laughter. We either prepare the whole meal together, or each of us will take turns bringing different course dishes or simply supplying the wine. For our most recent dinner, I volunteered to take salad duty. Summer had just started and there’s nothing more appetizing than fresh salad greens. My first thought was to bring a Horiatiki Salata (Village Greek Salad) and call it good. The Horiatiki Salata is the most popular salad of Greece, consisting of only cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, oregano, feta, green peppers and olives, all lathered in Greek dressing. You can Google search “Horiatiki Salata” and find countless recipes and colorful varieties of the dish. It’s such a classic and tasty salad that soon My Big Fat Greek Fanny’s own recipe and artsy pictures will be among the many …