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.
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.
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.
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.
Homemade phyllo and spinach filling, perfect for Lent, and anytime
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.
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.
A perfect mess of vegetables that tastes better than you could hope
Feeling somewhat bloated and heavy after the holidays? Resolved to eating healthier, including more vegetables in your diet, and to limiting processed foods? Committed to cutting out all sweets, and eating only food which serves a vitamin and mineral fuelled purpose? Well, we’re here to help! And to remind you that we have a whole category of dessert recipes like galaktoboureko, baklava and koulourakia, because cutting out all sweets is dumb (unless your doctor tells you to cut out all sweets, in which case it’s very, very smart).
Cranberry sauce that is not from a can…. you can do it!
We believe that there are three types of cranberry sauce people in the world. The first are those who like to open up a can and plop the contents onto a dish to be sliced and served. We are not those people, although we 100% respect and adore that many canned cranberry sauce friends tell us that the sight of the unmolded can of sauce, complete with rings from the can, reminds them of home and their childhoods. You know, we are all for that! The second class of cranberry sauce people are those who realize that making fresh cranberry sauce may be the easiest culinary feat possible, and so they do. We have become those people, but the truth is, for most of our lives, we fell into category three. This last group of sad, deprived folks are those who never knew of cranberry sauce growing up, because holiday turkey was lamb and it was served with tzatziki.
Our parents are from the Peloponnese region of Messinia, the western-most peninsula of the part of Greece that looks a little like a hand which is missing a finger. Messinia is where our heart lies in Greece, and where many of the recipes which we share originate. However, the Peloponnese is rich with variety and this potato and orange salad is named for the middle finger of the Peloponnese, the Mani peninsula.