Spinach salad with peaches and dates

Spinach salad with peaches and dates

A fresh summer salad with fruit sweetness and walnut crunch

Summer is salad season, and we love that!  When it is too hot to turn on the oven, or when we would much rather be frolicking in the sun or strolling around our beautiful city, a no-nonsense salad which ticks off so many boxes is just the answer.  Delicious. Check.  Nutritious. Check.  Quick and easy. Check. Inexpensive.  Check.  Too good not to share…check!

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Pasta topped with fried egg

Pasta topped with fried egg

Egg noodles topped with an egg fried in olive oil

Whenever we’re in a rush and need to get a meal on the table quick, we tend to turn to either a pasta dish like spaghetti with olive oil and mizithra, or an egg dish, like an omelette full of Greek flavour.  Pasta and eggs are the start of so many quick, nutritious and easy meals.  In this recipe these two go-to staples are combined to create a recipe that was a regular in our home growing up.

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Sauteed green peppers (Πράσινες πιπεριές τηγανιτές)

Sauteed green peppers

A simple side full of green bell peppers, red onion and a few herbs

If you’re a gardener, you might be like our family who feels that there are some basic vegetables without which a garden could never be complete.  Oh sure, we like to experiment and occasionally try to grow watermelons, asparagus, and brussel sprouts, with varying degrees of success, but some things are non-negotiable.  Bell peppers are included in that category of must-grows.

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Grilled steak (Στέικ)

Grilled steak

A deliciously seasoned steak, perfect for barbecue season

Grilled steak

 

There are two types of people in the world, those who gravitate towards the ease and convenience of a gas grill, and those who believe that grilling must be done with charcoal, smoking chips, and some extra time.  There are certainly advantages to both, and truth be told, we wouldn’t deny a meal cooked on either type of barbecue.

Growing up our father had a large round charcoal grill with a green lid  which was kept ready and waiting in the backyard of our apartment building.  This was used when he had many things to cook, either because we were having company, or because it just made sense to prepare several meals in advance given that the charcoal was already burning.  Common sense at all times.

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Vanilla milkshake (Μιλκσέικ βανίλια)

Vanilla milkshake

A simple vanilla milkshake with the perfect ratio of ice cream to milk

So here’s something that you should know about our mother.  Like many other people of her generation, raised in Greece during times of economic hardships, our mother has always been quite sensitive to signs of health and wellness.  For instance, according to our mother, anyone who looks even slightly underweight is cause for concern.  Perhaps they aren’t eating enough.  Perhaps they are sick.  Perhaps they need her to intervene.

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Herb marinated feta

Herb marinated feta

Greek feta marinating in a herb, lemon and chili pepper infused olive oil

Feta is the king of cheeses, in our opinion.  It is perhaps the best known Greek cheese and is so loved that it finds its way into so many recipes.  Whether it is used to fill kalitsounia, or covered in sesame seeds and fried, or added to an amazing Greek salad, feta makes everything betta! 🙂 Growing up, a breakfast, lunch and dinner were never complete if there wasn’t an oval shaped bowl holding pieces of feta available. It didn’t really matter what was being served; the general consensus was that feta goes with everything.

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No-knead bread with halloumi, mint and orange

 

No-knead bread with halloumi, mint and orangeA crispy crust and a perfect crumb of cheese, herbs and citrus

No-knead bread with halloumi, mint and orange

 

Bread is life.  We don’t care how many diets exist which denounce bread as an evil scourge on waistlines, we love it.  For us, bread is what makes a meal complete, like when we make green beans with potatoes and use bread to sop up all of the delicious sauces.  Or when we finish our horiatiki salad and use bread to soak up the liquid left behind; olive oil, oregano, the juices from the tomatoes and little crumbs of feta.  Divine.  Life is too short to be denied carbs.

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Fried fish (Ψαράκια τηγανητά)

Fried fish

Tiny fried fish that you can eat from head to tail

Fried fish

 

Summers in Greece mean hours spent in outdoor tavernas, with a clear view of the ocean and the warm sun embracing you.  The heat, the pace of vacation life, the hours before or right after the afternoon siesta all contribute to a feeling that time is endless, and life is best lived unhurried.  But all that relaxation sure works up an appetite, so that taverna table is usually most often filled with mezes and frosty glasses of ouzo or frappé.  Given the scene, some of the best mezes are those that came from the sea you are looking onto.  Octopus, shrimp, calamari are always welcome, as are these tiny fried fish.

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Shrimp saganaki (Γαρίδες σαγανάκι)

Shrimp saganaki

Shrimp cooked in a rich and spicy tomato sauce with ouzo and feta

Shrimp saganaki

 

In Greek cooking there are a whole slew of dishes which are categorized as saganaki.  One of the most popular is cheese saganaki, that meze of fried cheese set aflame with the help of a little ouzo or Metaxa, which causes restaurant patrons to exclaim Opa! in delighted unison.  The term saganaki actually refers to the small, two-handled frying pan in which the food is cooked called a sagani, a derivative of the Turkish word sahan, which means copper dish.  Remember long ago when we told you that Mia Kouppa would also make you smarter?  You’re welcome.

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Broccoli with olive oil and lemon (Μπρόκολο με ελαιόλαδο και λεμόνι)

Broccoli with olive oil and lemon

Steamed broccoli served with olive oil and a dash of lemon juice

Broccoli was never a hated vegetable in our house.  No one cringed when it was served.  No one pushed it around on their plate until they could slip it to the dog (not that we had a dog).  We simply ate it, because we loved it.  Seriously.  And our parents only ever served it one way.

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