Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

A vegetarian meze that is slightly sweet, light and crispy; perfect two-bites!

Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

 

We think that phyllo is the answer to most of life’s food problems.  Although rolling out your own phyllo is a skill which is honed over years of practice (or much quicker if you have a great recipe like this one), store bought phyllo is a breeze! Seriously!  Don’t listen to the stories about how it dries out too quickly or tears easily.  In fact, once you get used to working with store bought phyllo, you’re going to find yourself searching for things to wrap up in it!  True story!

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Christmas koulourakia with yeast (Χριστουγεννιάτικα κουλουράκια με μαγιά)

Christmas koulourakia with yeast (Χριστουγεννιάτικα κουλουράκια με μαγιά)

Savoury Christmas koulourakia

Much of the beauty of Greek cuisine is that it varies from region to region.  In part this is due to agricultural possibilities (think mountainous landscapes versus islands surrounded by the sea), connections with other cultures, and local customs and traditions.  Every recipe tells a story, and offers a glimpse into the rich web of history, both cultural and culinary, that makes Greece and Greek food such an important and fascinating area of study.  Although many of these unique regional dishes are well known (think kalitsounia from Crete or lalagia from Messinia), others are so local that they are known only to isolated villages.  The recipe which we are sharing here is one such example.

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Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

This nutritional powerhouse of a soup will have you feeling great, and full!

Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

 

If you are a regular reader of Mia Kouppa, you may already be aware that we have a love affair with black-eyed peas.  We are actually fond of all things bean and legume, but the darling black-eyed pea holds a special place in our hearts…because it is so darn cute.  Take a good look at these beans, with their perfect small shape and perfectly situated black “eye” and we’re pretty sure you will agree, they are adorable!  Still, if you’re more mature than us and not that interested in appearances, we think we can convince you to love black-eyed peas anyways, because they are delicious, versatile and so, so good for you.

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Chicken with tomato sauce and peas (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με αρακά)

Chicken with tomato sauce and peas (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με αρακά)

A pot of goodness that will satisfy your whole family

Chicken with tomato sauce and peas (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με αρακά)

 

This may actually be one of our favourite meals. Not only does this dish of chicken, cooked alongside potatoes and peas in a rich tomato sauce satisfy all sorts of comfort cravings, it also comes together pretty easily.  Nothing too fancy in terms of technique or ingredients, this is humble, real Greek food.  This is the type of meal we grew up on, and this is the type of meal that we turn to today, when we want something that tastes like home.

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Spanakopasta

Spanakopasta

A deliciously quick and simple way to enjoy the flavours of spanakopita

Spanakopasta

 

Ask any non-Greek, or Greek, what one of their favourite Greek foods is, and you will often hear spanakopita.  There’s a very good reason for that!  Spanakopita, in all of its variations is a delicious treat; perfect as a meze, and at the same time substantial enough for a light meal.  The problem (if you are really trying hard to find one) is that spanakopita is encased in phyllo, which you either may not have on hand (if you are opting for the store bought variety) or which you may not have time to make (if you are going for the do-it-yourself variety).  Alas, every problem has a solution, and in this case the solution is pasta.

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Cod with eggplant and potatoes (Μπακαλιάρος με μελιτζάνες και πατάτες)

Cod with eggplant and potatoes (Μπακαλιάρος με μελιτζάνες και πατάτες)

Greek style fish and chips…with eggplant

There is something to be said for the thrill that comes with anticipation.  Like looking under the Christmas tree and seeing all of the gifts waiting to be opened.  Or carrying home the latest best-selling novel, imagining crawling into bed and cracking the spine.  Or marking “X”‘s on the calendar as you count down the days to your holiday.  Or opening up your refrigerator and seeing your fish soaking in cold water.  What joy!

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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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