Pasta with Swiss chard and tomatoes

Pasta with Swiss chard and tomatoes

Summer flavours in a bowl of pasta

Pasta with Swiss chard and tomatoes

Pasta is our hero.  When we think the pantry is bare and there is nothing for supper, pasta is there.  When we find ourselves rushed and harried, pasta is there.  When we’ve had a difficult day and want to eat our comfort, pasta is there.  Whether it is a long slender spaghetti, a perfectly plump penne or a fancy farfalle, pasta has saved many a meals.

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Grilled zucchini and bell pepper salad

Grilled zucchini and bell pepper salad

A grilled vegetable salad with a fresh herb dressing 

Grilled zucchini and bell pepper salad

 

Once again, zucchini feature prominently in this recipe.  We just can’t get enough of this summer squash staple, whether we are turning them into chips, fritters or mixing them with other summer vegetables to make a quick meal.   In this recipe, we use both green zucchini and yellow squash (which is often called yellow zucchini).  Although both of these vegetables have very similar flavours, the difference in their colour makes this salad more interesting visually.  Add to that the colourful bell peppers and the fresh green herbs and before you know it you will have a bowl of coloured goodness to serve.

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Zucchini fritters (Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες)

Zucchini fritters (Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες)

Zucchini, herb and feta fritters!

Zucchini fritters (Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες)

 

Ever wonder what summer tastes like?  You might think it’s cool like ice cream, or bursting with citrus zing, but we’re pretty sure that if you could sample the essence of summer on your tongue it would taste like zucchini. Seriously!

Every summer, for as long as we can remember, when our parents plant their garden there is a special section devoted for zucchini and other squash.  In their current home, where they have been for several years, they actually have what we refer to as an annex to their garden.  The back fence bordering their tomatoes and peppers and spinach has been jimmied so that it opens up just wide enough for someone (our dad) to squeeze through.  On the other side, at a width of several feet, our parents plant their squash.  Here they grow pumpkins, butternut squash, zucchini and all sorts of other colourful and bizarre looking gourds, free and uninhibited; the only other things you will find here are some grape leaf vines and wild flowers.  Talk about a secret garden!

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Vlita (Βλήτα ή βλίτα)

Vlita (Βλήτα ή βλίτα)

Vibrant vlita! Quick, easy and so very good!

Vlita (Βλήτα ή βλίτα)

 

When is the last time you had boiled spinach for supper? Or a plate piled high with steamed collard greens?  Not as a side to anything, but as the actual meal.  Like, that was the only thing on your plate.  Well, if you’re Greek, then the answer might be, earlier this afternoon.  And if you’re not Greek, then this type of pauper, bland meal might seem a little strange, and sad.  But trust us…it’s not!

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Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with feta (Τυλιχτοί χουρμάδες σε μπέικον και φέτα)

Dates stuffed with feta

A bite-sized sweet party in your mouth… wrapped in bacon

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with feta (Τυλιχτοί χουρμάδες σε μπέικον και φέτα)

 

Greeks love mezes, little bite-sized (usually) appetizers that you can serve before a meal, or in place of a meal.  It is not unusual to be served several platters of mezes, along with a lovely glass of ouzo or ouzo-infused cocktail, and be fully satisfied.  The mezes are usually plenty, and they are so delicious that you are never wanting for a complete and formal meal.  Common on the meze table are spanakopita, tyropita, meatballs (keftedes) and dips or spreads.  Less common would be something like these dates, stuffed with feta enhanced with orange zest and mint, wrapped in bacon.  These bite-size morsels of sweet, salt, savoury and awesomeness will definitely make you smile.

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Greek-style Cobb salad

Greek-style Cobb salad

The Cobbopoulos; a delicious, Greek-inspired, Cobb salad

Greek-style Cobb salad

 

This salad is satisfying in so many ways.  First, it delivers in flavour, with simple and fresh ingredients that come together in a delicious way.  Second, it manages to put a Greek spin on a classic salad making it, in our opinion at least, even better; feta and Kalamata olives tend to do that.  Finally, the presentation speaks to each of us, at different moments.  The initial plating, ordered and with each ingredient clearly in its place, satisfies the need for organization that one of us has.  When the salad gets tossed together to coat every little bit with the delicious dressing…well that’s organized chaos in a bowl, and hits home with the other one of us.

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Grilled watermelon and feta salad

Grilled watermelon and feta salad

A salty and sweet salad perfect for summer eating!

Grilled watermelon and feta salad

 

This recipe proves (to us at least) that our parents have always been ahead of the game, trendsetters and taste-masters, flavour fanatics.  What appears to be a warm-weather craze these days has been a staple in our parents’ kitchen for as long as we can remember; watermelon and feta salads are incredibly popular, and with good reason.  People are in love with the salty, sweet, fresh and bright combination that is created when a ripe, juicy watermelon is tossed together with some great Greek feta.  Although ingenious and surprising to many, we grew up on this stuff.  As kids we loved watermelon, as did our girls, and our parents discovered that combining other foods with this favourite fruit was a sure-fire way to maximize nutritional intake (giagia and pappou goals!).  Feta and watermelon was always a winner combination and it was therefore on constant repeat. Other combinations were less popular (for the record, don’t try to feed anyone you love watermelon mixed with spanakorizo…it’s gross).

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Grilled fennel (Μάραθο στην σχάρα)

Grilled fennel (Μάραθο στην σχάρα)

Grilled fennel (Μάραθο στην σχάρα)

 

If you have been following Mia Kouppa even a little bit, you’ll know that we get most of our inspiration from our parents; they are, after all, the reason behind this little blog of ours.  However, we also get inspired by other great Greek home cooks, the culinary world around us in our great city of Montreal, and the varied and rich ethnic and cultural food influences we are presented with every day.  So much inspiration…so much great stuff to eat!  But it doesn’t stop there.  We are also influenced and inspired by the friends we may never meet in person; the food bloggers, Instagrammers, Pinners and Facebookers we follow, admire, and wish we could share a meal with.  This grilled fennel is a direct result of that admiration.

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Broiled chicken (Κότα ψητή)

Broiled chicken (Κότα ψητή)

Boiling then broiling gives the most delectable chicken!

Some things in life make no logical sense, and yet still seem to work.  This recipe is an example of that. Reading through the directions which follow you would assume that the chicken, which is boiled twice and then broiled, would end up over-cooked and dry; certainly not something worth writing about.  But, you would be wrong.  Despite the somewhat unusual cooking method and minimal seasoning, you end up with a meal which is delicious, tender and definitely worth posting about.

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Cucumber salad (Αγγουροσαλάτα)

Cucumber salad (Αγγουροσαλάτα)

Cucumber salad (Αγγουροσαλάτα)

 

Cucumbers! Who doesn’t love a fruit (yup, a fruit!) that can be used as a vegetable, which is a good source of Vitamins A, C and folic acid, and that can reduce eye puffiness.  That’s right!  Did you know that you can place cucumber slices on your eyes, lay back for about 5 minutes, and then  look 10 years younger.  It’s true! Now, that last little bit could be credited to the fact that during your do-it-yourself spa treatment, cucumber juice seeps into your eyes, blurring your vision temporarily…but whatever.

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