Meat or poultry cooked in tomato sauce is a staple in most Greek kitchens, including our parents’. This type of meal is called kokkinisto, which means red or reddened and refers to the fact that the cooking liquid is tomato sauce. Whether you choose to use meat, as we did in our veal kokkinisto recipe, or poultry as we are doing here, you will find that this method of cooking results in something absolutely delicious, with minimal effort. How wonderful is that!?
So here’s a recipe you will either love, or hate; we don’t think there is any in-between (although we suppose you can also love to hate it). Trahana is an ancient food, whose origins are somewhat disputed; some argue that it originated in Greece, while others claim that Turkey or Persia introduced trahana to the world. Regardless of who ate it first, today trahana is eaten in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. In fact, many consider trahana to be the traditional soup of Cyprus. Versions of this meal are also very popular in Crete (where it is called xinohondros). Our parents are neither Cypriot nor Cretan, and still we were subjected to served this soup often growing up.
Have you noticed that we have a fondness for eggplant? They are so versatile, and so very delicious. This fruit (yes! eggplant is a fruit, and botanically a species of nightshade, a family of flowering plants) can be treated in all sorts of ways, including being fried for eggplant chips, stuffed in yemista, and even used as a substitute for crostini! It also plays well with others, and in this baked vegetable dish, it is combined with zucchini and potato to make one of our families most favourite dishes. We are so excited to share it!
This sauce! How could we begin to describe the wonder which is this sauce!? How could we convince you that this sauce, is something that you absolutely have to make…like, today…before it becomes difficult to find sweet, vine ripened tomatoes. Will it help if we tell you that this sauce, so basic, so simple, will elevate your dishes in ways you could barely imagine?! It’s true! It’s so deliciously true!
Thank you friends! You have been really patient…and we have been somewhat of a tease (No!…not in that way!). We realize that many of you have been waiting for the recipe to our parents’ homemade tomato sauce, which we reference frequently in other recipes. We’ve told you that if you didn’t have your own homemade sauce, that you could use passata or some other sort of tomato product as a substitute in many meals, and you’ve been very understanding…but you still ask about our parents’ sauce. And we’re happy you do!
I say tomato, you say…yeah, but what kind of tomato? Greeks love tomatoes and we incorporate this fruit (yes, tomatoes are fruit) into several traditional recipes. When fresh tomatoes are called for, things are pretty straightforward; find the freshest, most delicious tomatoes and buy them. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, or even a small balcony that can accommodate a pot, plant some tomato seeds and enjoy freshly-picked, vine-ripened tomatoes for as long as the weather in your neck of the woods allows. Otherwise, try to find the ripest, sweetest smelling tomatoes at the grocery store and keep them on the counter until you are ready to use them. In our city, we are lucky to have a local company which grows beautiful vine-ripened tomatoes year round, in a rooftop greenhouse. Incredible! Maybe you have something similar where you live? Regardless of where you find your perfect tomatoes, do not place them in the refrigerator, particularly if you are planning to eat them uncooked. The cold temperature does bad things to tomatoes, damaging their inner membranes and giving them that nasty mealy texture that is very un-tomato like. Great tomatoes belong on the kitchen counter, showing off their bright red skins and fresh green stems.