Beans and rice

rice and beans edited-2

This post, and recipe for beans and rice is sponsored by Purolator Tackle Hunger.  We were compensated for our time, and all opinions in this post are our own.

Beans and rice

 

How wonderful is it when the stars align? That’s exactly what happened when we were asked to participate in the Purolator Tackle Hunger game day food drive, which partners with the Canadian Football League to help raise hunger awareness and collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for food banks across the country.  Since its beginning in 2003 the Purolator Tackle Hunger® program has helped deliver the equivalent of more than 13 million pounds of food to food banks across Canada.

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Grilled vegetables (Λαχανικά στη σχάρα)

Grilled vegetables

A medley of marinated and grilled vegetables 

Eat your vegetables!  Who hasn’t heard this, or uttered it, over and over again.  Sometimes getting your kids, your spouse, yourself to eat vegetables seems like an uphill battle.  Let’s face it, not everyone goes crazy for luscious greens like vlita or okra, or is satisfied with a meal whose main star is cauliflower. In fact, today we crave vegetables but there was a time when we would plan covert operations to stealthily dispose of the grossness that our parents put before us; our spanakorizo disposal tactics were legendary.  Still, even in the throes of our vegetable-hating youths, we never rejected vegetables that were marinated and grilled, and which usually happened to be served along with grilled souvlaki or steak.

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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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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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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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Herbed orzo with chickpeas (Κριθαράκι με βότανα και ρεβίθια)

Herbed orzo with chickpeas

A delicious meal of fresh herbs, orzo and chickpeas

If you’re looking for a dish to remind you that spring is here, and that the cold winter months are behind you, then this is it.  A simple recipe using orzo and loads of fresh herbs, the colour,  smell and the flavour of this herbed orzo make it clear that sunny days are here…or at least, coming soon.

The fresh taste of this herbed orzo dish is enough to entice you to make it over and over again.  But, an added bonus is that it is quick, easy, economical (super economical if you happen to have your own herb garden) and vegan, making it perfect for meatless Mondays, period of Orthodox lent, and any other time you want a plant-based meal.  The addition of chickpeas ensures that the dish is full of protein and that it is satisfying.

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Citrus platter with pomegranate

Citrus platter with pomegranate

A delicious and beautiful way to present blood oranges

One of us was fortunate enough to spend part of our honeymoon in Morocco, in what will soon be 20 years ago! We still remember that trip so well, the souks, the snake charmers, the welcoming and lovely people…and the food.  The food in Morocco was nothing less than phenomenal.  From the tagines, to the couscous,  and the homemade nougat in the Jemaa el-Fnaa, we happily ate our way through weeks of North African adventure.  Over the years we have often tried to recreate some of the delicious meals we had while in Morocco.  After much trial and error we had some great success, like this lamb tagine, but other recreations allude us (we still haven’t mastered pastilla, although this recipe looks promising and we just might try that!)

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Vegan spanakopita (Νηστίσιμη σπανακόπιτα)

Vegan spanakopita

Homemade phyllo and spinach filling, perfect for Lent, and anytime

Vegan spanakopita

 

Growing up we lived close to our grade school, and so lunches were eaten at home after a short walk down one street and one lane.  Our mother, who worked at different periods either at home, or in the evenings, was available to meet us at the school and walk the short distance home with us. Once there we would very occasionally be treated to our parents’ newly discovered convenience food; the TV dinner.  We loved those surprise lunches, from the compartmentalized courses to the odd looking sauces and vegetables which were less than vibrant.  We especially loved returning to school and, on those days only, asking our friends “what did you have for lunch?”, knowing that they would probably ask us the same.  Then, we could nonchalantly, but with a quiet glee, say, “Oh, you know, a TV dinner”.  Our non-Greek friends would nod their heads with approval and understanding. Our Greek friends would look bewildered.

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Halva with apple and raspberry (Χαλβάς με μήλο και βατόμουρο)

Halva with apple and raspberry

A semolina based vegan dessert flavoured with apples and raspberry 

Halva with apple and raspberry

 

This is an example of what happens when you take basic principles, and then let your imagination run free.  The basic principle here is halva-making.  Semolina based halva (not to be confused with the tahini based dessert which goes by the same name) is really versatile, and once you understand the basic premise of how to put one together, it becomes very easy to make it your own.  We have already shared with you our parents’ basic halva recipe, flavoured with orange and studded with raisins.  It’s delicious and it’s a very popular dessert during periods of lent (halva is both dairy and egg free).  We’ve also shared with you a vegan chocolate halva, which is a bit more decadent, because, chocolate.  But the halva story does not end there.

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Potatoes yahni (Πατάτες γιαχνί )

Potatoes yahni

A traditional Greek potato stew

Potatoes yahni

 

Raise your hand if you love pototoes! You there, in the back, holding a fist-full of french fries, we see you!  And we love you!  And, we too love potatoes.  Whether they are roasted in the oven, bathed in all sorts of beautiful Greek flavours, or boiled and mashed and then transformed into the very distinctive Greek garlic spread called skordalia, we adore them.  Potatoes are so versatile, so available, so economical, that it’s no wonder that the rustic cuisine of Greece has taken this commonplace vegetable and made it the star of a stew which we know will find a happy place in your hearts and stomachs.

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