Potato Salad (Πατατοσαλάτα)

Potato Salad

A light and delicious potato salad full of wonderful textures and flavours

We went to a lot of picnics when we were kids. In late spring, summer and early fall, when the weather was inviting, our family would spend Saturdays on the mountain. If you’re from Montreal, you know that the mountain refers to Mount Royal. Declared a heritage site by municipal authorities and the Government of Quebec, the mountain covers 10 square kilometers, right in the heart of Montreal.

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Dates stuffed with almond butter and coconut

Dates stuffed with almond butter and coconut

A healthy, quick snack to satisfy any sweet craving

Dates stuffed with almond butter and coconut

 

Sometimes the craving for something sweet hits so quickly, and so aggressively that you find yourself scrambling in the kitchen, looking for something that was already baked, or a candy bar, or a bag of chocolate chips that you spontaneously decide are not necessary for the chocolate chip cookies you were planning to make.  If you don’t have access to these options, you dip into the sugary cereal you know you shouldn’t be feeding your kids, or you make some cinnamon toast, with more brown sugar than cinnamon, or toast.  Or, you pause, remember your health and waistline and choose a piece of nature’s candy instead.   You know, a bowl of grapes or a ripe peach.  Bah! Who are we kidding?? When that urge for sweetness hits, fruit just isn’t going to cut it unless its been morphed into a pie, or unless that fruit is a date.

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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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Tahini salad dressing (Σως ταχινιού για σαλάτα)

Tahini salad dressing (Σως ταχινιού για σαλάτα)

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Have you ever eaten tahini?  Even if you think you haven’t…you probably have.  Tahini is the paste of ground up sesame seeds and it is traditionally a key ingredient in hummus. Almost like a nut-butter, tahini is creamy, smooth and very nutritious, being pretty high in calcium and iron as well as protein and fiber…and fat.  Whatever!  Tahini is not perfect.

In any case, when life gets busy and you just don’t have the time or energy to be in the kitchen for too long, you can throw some chopped up vegetables into a bowl, dress them with this tahini salad dressing, and call it a day.  During periods of lent, this salad dressing is particularly handy because it is not only vegan, but it also does not contain any additional oil (the sesame seed paste will produce it’s own oil when crushed up however).

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Gigantes plaki (Φασόλια γίγαντες)

Gigantes plaki

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What was that?  You want something satisfying, luxurious, super easy and vegan?  Oh, good.  We’ve got just the thing for you.  Gigantes (or gigantes plaki) is a dish that we think you will come back to again and again. In this recipe, beans are prepared into a stew-like casserole, giving you a meal which is at once elegant, yet simple.

Maybe because gigantes are not the most common of beans, people often refer to them as giant lima beans.  Despite the fact that they look similar, gigantes are creamier, meatier and hold their shape better than lima beans when cooked; they are not the same thing.  When they aren’t mislabeled as lima beans, gigantes are sometimes colloquially referred to as elephant beans.  In actual fact, they are white runner beans (which we think sounds much more appetizing than elephant beans…no offence to elephants).  Even more officially, and officially Latin, they are classified as Phaseolus coccineus . We think these distinctions are important, particularly because gigantes are so special in Greek cooking.  They are so special, in fact, that certain regions of Greece have varieties of gigantes which have been accredited  as Protected Geographical Indication products. Take that, lima bean.

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