All posts tagged: vegetariancooking

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 …

Bakaliaros Skordalia (Cod & Garlic Dip)

My entire house has smelled like a McDonald’s deep fryer for an entire week. Fried oil has seeped into the carpets and walls, and has stubbornly clung to mine and my family’s clothes. It’s actually been a pleasant change of pace from the typical scent of a wet dog. The culprit behind the oil stench is my mistake of opening up any windows to get some fresh air while frying up a traditional dish. March 25th is a double national holiday of Greece, marking a special day of both religious and political events. It’s a spiritual day dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a child. It’s also a day that marks the start of the War of Greek Independence when the Greeks demanded their independence after living in centuries under the Ottoman Empire. It’s a day of joyous gatherings and celebration. On March 25th, Greeks will fill the streets for parades to celebrate the historic day and blue …

Horiatiki Salata (Greek Village Salad)

Sharing a horiatiki salata (Greek village salad) recipe seems unnecessary because it’s a pretty straightforward dish. But as easy as it is to drizzle olive oil over chopped vegetables, there are still necessary steps and dos and don’ts of this salad that you may not be aware of. A proper horiatiki salata is a vibrant salad that calls for tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, kalamata olives, red onions, feta cheese, oregano, olive oil, and vinegar. You may come across recipes that add lettuce, parsley or capers, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it just wouldn’t be a true horiatiki salata. And when it comes to horiatiki salata, it’s all about keeping it traditional. Although it would be ideal to enjoy this classic Greek dish in the beautiful homeland itself (sighs and longs for Greece) to access all the fresh produce the salad relies on, you can still make a horiatiki salata at home. I make it almost daily, especially in the summer months when I can pick cucumbers and tomatoes from my dad’s garden. That way, …

Greek Orzo Salad

There’s nothing more refreshing than the Greek village salad: crisp cucumbers, tasty tomatoes, colorful peppers, chopped onions, and Kalamata olives, all drizzled with olive oil, then topped with oregano and feta cheese. With the same ingredients (and any add-ons you desire), you can make that same salad a little more filling by adding orzo (manestra) to the mix. The Greek orzo salad becomes a memorable and flavorful meal. It’s easy to make. Just chop the vegetables smaller than you would for a regular Greek village salad, boil the orzo, then season, dress and toss. And go colorful with the vegetables because this dish can look like an artistic masterpiece with the right combinations. For example, I add cherry and golden tomatoes along with red, yellow, and orange mini peppers to create extra pops of color that are not only appealing to the eye, but the palette as well. Play around with what you like and make a Greek orzo salad masterpiece of your own. Just be sure to make plenty of it, because trust me—it will …

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 …

Nitsa’s Peas

Until 3 days ago, the last time I scarfed down a bowl of peas was when I was in diapers. For some reason mothers think babies like peas. Even then I’m sure I raised my tiny harmless fists in protest of peas, even as spoonful after spoonful of them flew in circles over my head as my mother played “here comes the airplane.” I suppose you can make anything taste good so long as it’s masked as an airplane. I probably would’ve eaten dirt if my mom said it was a 737. Or maybe as a baby I mistook dirt for peas and have since been traumatized—who knows? Bottom line is that peas have always been my number one enemy. But strangely, I have always given peas a second, third and umpteenth chance in and out of their pods, mixed in a stew or tossed in a fresh salad, roasted with other vegetables or complimenting a main dish. I thought I had tried and hated peas in every possible form and flavor and had nearly …

Fasolakia (Green Beans Stew)

Fasolakia is a “lathera” dish, meaning a dish that is nearly drowned in olive oil. Lots of olive oil! The olive oil, herbs, and tomatoes combine with the beans for a wonderful sauce, so make sure to have plenty of psomi nearby when you make this dish because you’ll certainly want to sop up every last drop of juice when you reach the end of your bowl. Save Print Fasolakia (Green Beans Stew) Author: Eleni Saltas Recipe type: Main Course/Vegetarian Cuisine: Greek Serves: 4-6   Fasolakia is a “lathera” dish, meaning a dish that is nearly drowned in olive oil. The olive oil, herbs, and tomatoes combine with the beans for a wonderful sauce, so make sure to have plenty of bread nearby when you make this dish because you’ll certainly want to sop up every last drop of juice when you reach the end of your bowl. Ingredients 1 ½ pounds green beans 1 cup extra virgin olive oil—or more! 2 medium onions, sliced 6 garlic cloves, chopped 2 tablespoons oregano Salt and pepper, to taste 4 cups whole …

Briam (Roasted Vegetables)

Where do you see yourself in five years? That’s a standard go-to question for interviewers, strangers trying to get to know you, and family members when you’re graduating High School or College. So, you make something up like I did. If you asked me that question five years ago, walking on the moon would’ve been a more likely answer than what I’m doing now–writing about vegetables. Five years ago I hated vegetables. I would spend hours at the dinner table avoiding anything green and colorful, meanwhile wishing I were up in space eating packaged space food. Thankfully, my dad is so stubborn about Greek food it was only a matter of time I finally began eating and enjoying healthy Greek dishes. Now I even write about how much I enjoy vegetables. One of my favorite Greek vegetable dishes is Briam. It’s a traditional dish that’s simple, tasty, and can be enjoyed year round, though it is mostly considered a summer dish when the freshest vegetables come farm to table, or from your garden. You can find many …

Horta (Greens)

We Greeks all know HORTA (χορτα). The Greek comedian Basile cracks me up with his stories of remembering his family road trips when his yiayia would suddenly break the silence with a shriek:  “Χορτα, χορτα!” The car screeched to a stop and the family followed yiayia into a nearby field to hack away at common roadside weeds. To her they were a treasure. Later that night, Basile and company ate endless amounts of horta at the laden dinner table. I don’t know what type of horta Basile’s yiayia saw but in springtime in Utah, Greeks still pull over for vrouves or seenapies (two members of the wild mustard family) springing up among other types of local greens. In Crete, over 300 types of horta grow in the wild, each with its own different flavor and each available during different seasons. Horta is still served with nearly every meal. When I first learned the word horta I immediately learned another Greek word at the same time—οχι (no). Thanks to horta, I hated nearly all vegetables. Macaroni and cheese is way cooler than horta, any school …