Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Fasolada Soupa

Greek bean soup is almost like a national dish in Greece, although it doesn’t seem to be so popular on this side of the world. Rather, I have seen the infamous Avgolemono soup everywhere including restaurants and even canned on supermarket shelves! I think the reason behind this is because it is one of the humble foods found on every Greek table at least once a month, sometimes once a week. Especially now during times of crisis, there might be some people living off this stuff!

Benefits of Greek Yogurt

I am sure everyone has heard of Greek yogurt, it is everywhere here. But do you know what makes it “Greek” and do you understand the nutritional benefits over just regular yogurt?

First, Greek yogurt is still simply yogurt! The key factor in making it qualify as Greek is that it is a strained yogurt. It іѕ produced wіthоut adding аnу stabilizers оr gelatin tо the finished product. Since it iѕ а dairy product produced bу the bacterial fermentation of milk, it саn be produced іn small quantities by аnуonе аt home. You juѕt nееd sоmе milk, time and patience аnd thе bacteria wіll do іtѕ job. The end result is a more dense, creamier, and rich tasting yogurt. Of course it is still offered  in full, low-fat, and non-fat options.

Feta Stuffed Green Peppers

Finally we are safe and sound in Florida. Our 2 day trip turned into a 3 day journey, but thankfully everyone along the way was really helpful and friendly. The first leg from Thessaloniki to Istanbul was delayed 4 1/2 hours, so by the time we landed (in the rain), got our luggage and dog, found our taxi, and got checked into the hotel it wasn’t worth going downtown. We were completely wiped out from the delays and stress of taking our dog along with us, but we were really happy that our hotel was so nice. We wanted to stay somewhere between the airport and downtown, so we chose Novotel (Istanbul). We also hired a taxi service to pick us up and drop us off – we had 3 suitcases, 1 dog, 1 kennel, and 3 carry on bags. Backpackers Travel (Istanbul) was awesome!!! For about the same price as grabbing a taxi outside, they sent a van and driver to the airport and the hotel the next morning. Besides the rain and ridiculous traffic the night we landed, their service was exceptional and I would recommend using anytime in Istanbul! Like I said before, our hotel was 4 star, and maybe we are just used to the budget friendly 2 star hotels but this one was pure luxury. We were treated like VIPs the whole time and the staff and accommodation was really great! We ended up just ordering room service and relaxing in the room. As much as we would have loved to see the city, we are glad we rested and plan to go back someday! PS. If you ever go to Istanbul, please know that Americans are subjected to a $20 visa – this is good to know before you stand in the customs check line like I did! 

Leek Pie with Whole Wheat Phyllo

Let me explain something before we get to this amazingly simple and delicious recipe. When Americans hear the word “pita” they think of a soft, pocket-like sandwich holder. But when Greeks hear the word “pita” they think of a phyllo encased, typically pizza sliced shaped, pie filled with spinach, cheese, and/or other greens and vegetables. I guess it could be more correctly translated as a cheese or vegetable pie made with phyllo. Either way it is a delight to have around the house and a great way to add some extra fiber and nutrition.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Greek food is great. And Greeks love Greek food. Besides in major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, it is nearly impossible to find any variety of ethnic food, except for pizza of course. No chinese, no thai, no mexican, no indian. I have been lucky and gotten to travel a lot and I have tasted some really delicious ethnic foods – not all of them are “authentic” but I not only enjoy the variety, I crave for it. I love spicy foods – you know the kind that you can’t stop eating because your mouth only gets hotter?! Thankfully my husband loves spicy food too. Sometimes he will sit and eat chips and salsa while sweating because there are too many jalapenos.

Spaghetti with Lentil Meat(less)Balls?

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!!! I didn’t do really anything special, we were and are under a burn ban here so I didn’t even really get to see any fireworks. I didn’t make anything red, white, and blue because that usually involves making cupcakes or some other sugar infused dessert. I have been really trying to get fit and use all the nutrition knowledge that I studied and learned at Baylor University (there must be some benefit from a degree I am not using at all icon smile Spaghetti with Lentil Meat(less)Balls? right?

Mushroom and Zucchini Bowtie Pasta

mushroom pasta bite Mushroom and Zucchini Bowtie Pasta

Sometimes the easiest dinner to create is one that you throw together with the ingredients you have just laying around your kitchen; this was one of those delicious discoveries. 

If you learn a few basics, like sautéing, you can make a variety of soups and sauces. The French word actually means, “to jump” and is a very useful method to learn if you want to take your cooking from good to great! This technique is carried out by cooking food quickly in a hot pan and using a small amount of fat. It is important though not to use too much fat or you will go from sautéing to frying your foods. When properly executed, sautéing does not dry out the food but actually leaves some pieces called “fond” into the pan. These “leftovers” have a wonderful caramelized flavor that you can use to create a wonderful yet simple reduction sauce. 

First, lets discuss what foods are good to be sautéed. The best foods must be tender, thin, and portion or bite-sized. Many types of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish are appropriate for sautéing. To prepare thick or dense meats for sautéing, simply slice them thinly before cooking for bite-sized pieces or pound them thin (with a meat mallet or back side of a frying pan) for portion sized pieces. Vegetables, fruits, precooked grains, pasta, beans and other legumes are also candidates for sautéing. Thin, tender items like snow peas, apples and mushrooms may go right into the sauté pan. Thicker, denser items such as carrots and broccoli should be par-boiled before hand.

Now to begin the cooking. Have all of your ingredients prepared and ready to go, it is also important that everything be approximately the same size so it all cooks evenly. Always preheat your pan and then add the oil/butter, this way you avoid have hot spots. You’ll know it is ready when you can splash a few drops of water into the pan and watch them dance across and evaporate. Let the fat melt just until it has a shimmer but before it begins smoking, remove it from the heat for a few moments if it smokes. Add your ingredients to the pan and let them sit so they turn golden brown. For meats, this is usually about 3 minutes, for fish this about 2 minutes. After this time, flip them over in the pan and repeat the process, using a spatula or tongs. DO NOT use a fork, as it pierces the meat and releases all the juices. 

Next, you want to deglaze your pan for optimum flavor in making a sauce. Sounds extravagant, but it really isn’t. There’s an added benefit to doing this too, you’ll have a pan so clean that with one wipe of the sponge you’ll be done! Remove your meat or other protein (if using veggies, just leave in pan) and place somewhere to keep warm, like your oven. If there is a lot of fat in the pan remaining, remove all but a tablespoon or two.  Add 1 teaspoon of seasoning (of choice) and turn the heat to high adding about ¼ cup of white wine (red wine or stocks work too and sometimes I even use beer or fruit juices). Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the stuff up from the bottom of the pan and let it dissolve in the liquid. The liquids will reduce fairly quickly, so go ahead and lower the heat. From here you can simply pour the sauce over your meat and serve, add more veggies and/or aromatics (like garlic or shallots), add more stock for a soup, or add some butter, dairy, or cheese for a richer sauce. 

For my pasta recipe, I simply sautéed some mushroom heads and zucchini slices. I added some white wine, a few drops of cream, and some parmesan cheese with a little salt, black pepper, red pepper, and dried basil.  It was really fantastic! 

Kali Orexi! 

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Presvitera’s Dolmades

I must admit first that although I took the pictures, the dolmades below belong to my mother-in-law, “the expert dolmades maker”, hence the name! Her name is not Presvitera, rather this is a respectful and endearing name to call a priest’s wife. My father in law is a Greek Orthodox priest and I had the honor of him baptizing me (My Christian name is Styliani) and marrying us – actually we had a very blessed wedding with 6 priests, our marriage is bound to last until the end of time icon smile Presviteras Dolmades  

The (one) time that I tried to make dolmades, the taste was good but the aesthetics were terrible, so you did not get to see my first attempt. Over Easter break, I got to learn first hand the secrets to making perfect dolmades, do not overstuff them! Apparently, I was a little too eager and generous with my rice stuffing. Lesson learned! So, now I share with you the simple, yet delicious, vegetarian stuffed grape vine leaves recipe that many Greek families consider as a staple on their tables.
Presvitera’s Dolmades Recipe: 

Printable Recipe
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2-3 T. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 large lemons, juiced
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock, heated
30 grape leaves, rinsed and drained (from jar or use fresh but boil until tender)

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onion in 2 T. EVOO for a few minutes, then add the rice and herbs and continue stirring until the onion has softened. Slowly, pour in half the heated stock and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked but still very al dente. You do not want to overcook your rice, but you do want it started! Stir in half the lemon juice and remove from heat, cool until easy enough to handle.

Vegetarian Pastitsio

Don’t exit just quite yet if you don’t like the word, “Vegetarian”. This wonderful alternative to the classic dish, Traditional Pastitsio, is made with mushrooms and zucchini instead of ground meat, but trust me that it is still full of flavor and maybe even more addictive. If you don’t believe me, believe my Greek husband, he approved it and has already requested it again soon!With a slightly healthier spin, this dish is still very Greek. The sauce still has a hit of cinnamon and the béchamel still has a hint of nutmeg. In this recipe, the amounts are more slight so if you prefer a bolder taste then use a little extra spice!
pastitsio mushroom Vegetarian Pastitsio
Vegetarian Pastitsio “Greek Lasagna” Recipe: Serves 6-8
1/2 kilo (~1 lbs.) variety of brown and white mushrooms*
1-2 medium zucchini, chopped*
1-2 medium white onions, chopped
1/8 cup EVOO
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp. Greek oregano
salt and pepper
1/2 T. tomato paste
1/2 – 1 can crushed tomatoes
 a little less than a 1/4 cup dry white wine
1 all-spice berry
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 – 1 pkg. pastitsio or bucantini noodles (substitute just penne would work too) 
1/2 – 3/4 cup Kefalotyri (Ramano or another hard cheese)
Saute onions and zucchini in the olive oil on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, add the garlic and bay leaves and cook another 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chopped mushrooms and clove(s) and raise the heat to medium high, add the wine and tomato paste. Cook until almost all the wine has cooked off, then add the can of tomatoes, salt and pepper, cinnamon, and oregano, lower to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest.
*You can easily replace your veggies with anything of your choice: mixed spinach greens, eggplant, or anything you’d like, don’t hesitate to make it your own! 
Cook your noodles in a large pot of salted water until al dente, with a slight bite or firmness remaining (about 10-12 minutes).
Béchamel Sauce Recipe:
1/2 stick butter (~50-75g.)
1/2 cup AP flour
5 cups warm whole milk
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 – 1 cup grated hard cheese (vlahotyri, romano, parmesan, ect)
salt and pepper
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
More hard cheese to grate on top
Add butter to a medium large saucepan and melt on medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until turns a warm golden brown, about 5-7 minutes depending on your heat. Continue whisking briskly while you steadily stream in your warm milk making a nice roux. Make sure you do not have any lumps, if you start to see them forming, simply whisk faster (you can use a mixer if you have a whisking beater). Now, bring to a slight boil while stirring with a wooden spoon. You want your roux to thicken but not turn into a batter. Remove from heat and cool slightly for 5 minutes. Whisk all of your eggs together and slowly stream them into your roux, mixing quickly to avoid scrambling. Now, add your cheese and seasonings.
Once everything is ready, you can preheat your oven to 190°/375° and assemble your dish. Lightly oil your small – medium baking dish and mix 1 ladle of your béchamel sauce into your veggie mix and 2 ladles into your drained pasta. Lightly oil and add enough veggie/tomato sauce (not béchamel) to coat the bottom of your dish. Then, add 1/2 of your noodles. Follow with your veggie sauce and then repeat with remaining noodles. Top with the remaining béchamel sauce and grated cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes. You want your edges to be bubbly and the cheese to be golden brown. Rest at least 30 minutes before serving to help set-up and make easier to dish out and hold form!
This time, I only had less than half a package of pastitsio noodles, but I didn’t realize it until I had already started cooking. I substituted the bottom noodles for regular, flat lasagna noodles, it worked perfect; minus the bountiful pasta difference in the pictures. 
veg pastitsio Vegetarian Pastitsio

Although this dish takes a little effort and a lot of cleaning pots and pans, it is totally worth it. Make it once or twice and you will get the hang of it in no time!

Eggplant, Mushroom, and Tomato . . .

. . . Calzone or Pizza or Spaghetti
So, it might be a little teasing that I am sharing these next few pictures because when I am not baking, I rarely follow a recipe. Sometimes this turns out to be a masterpiece that I try to quickly write down what exactly I did, and other times I am confident that I can recreate it whenever I want. But I have fiddled so many times with sauces and soups that I have the basic recipe down. . . and I can and will share that with you! 
calzone eggplant Eggplant, Mushroom, and Tomato . . .
The combination of mushrooms, eggplants, tomatoes, and onion is really REALLY wonderful in a calzone, on a pizza, or even over some pasta. It all begins by sauteing some onions in EVOO, slowly on medium – medium high heat. Clean, slice, and salt your eggplant to remove the bitter juices letting rest for 20 minutes, then rise in cold water and pat dry. Wipe and slice your mushrooms, add to the onions and stir for 2-3 minutes before adding some wine (white or red). Finally, add your eggplant slices, fresh and canned tomatoes, Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)* and salt/pepper, cooking down until tender and wine has cooked off. Now, the choice is yours. . . do you want pizza, pasta, or calzone? Maybe even all three
pizza double Eggplant, Mushroom, and Tomato . . .
My new favorite recipe for calzones and pizza is THIS DOUGH, it can be instant (no rise) or it can rise twice if you have the time. It has a multigrain taste and is light, chewy and oh so wonderful. I have used it several times and have been very happy with the result each and every time! 
open calzone Eggplant, Mushroom, and Tomato . . .
I am sorry that I don’t have a better detailed recipe of the amounts, but honestly I just kind of toss and stir as I go… don’t be scared to use herbs, especially in a tomato sauce! I also think that shredded mozzarella and fresh mozzarella cheese with some finely grated parmesan cheese is the perfect compliment to this sauce! Fill your calzone, top your pizza, or mix in with your pasta and serve!!! 

Kali Orexi. 

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Spinach with rice and fresh lemon squeezed on top . . . mmmmm! Heart healthy and oh so delicious. 
spanikorizo plate Spanakorizo
I would definitely rank this towards the top of Greek meals that are common in any family home. This is a quick, no hassle, filling, and wonderful meal to have any day of the week. Especially during Lent, this is a perfect dinner, just leave off the feta!
If you like spinach, you are sure to love this go to recipe. Boost up the fiber by using brown rice and if available always use fresh spinach! 
spinach rice Spanakorizo
Spinach Rice aka Spanakorizo Recipe: Serves 2-4
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. fresh spinach or 1-2 cups frozen spinach
7 Tbs. EVOO
1 large white onion, chopped
juice of 2 lemons
2/3 cup of hot water 

1/2 cup long grain rice*
2-3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper

Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

Fasolakia is the Greek name for this heart warming dish. This was one of my first attempted Greek recipes, and it was not only easy but a wonderful vegetarian meal that I make again and again! It is a very typical summer dish made all over Greece with various types of beans, depending on what is available (even frozen beans will work)! When the beans are tender and the tomatoes a bit sweet, this dish can have astoundingly good flavor combined with potatoes and served with feta! 
Fasolakia above Green Beans in Tomato Sauce
Fresh Green Beans with Tomato Sauce: (Serves 4)
1 1/2 – 2 pounds (800 g.) green beans, cleaned and trimmed
2/3 cup (150 ml) EVOO
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic coves, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 1/2 lbs. fresh tomatoes or 14 oz. can plum tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup hot water
3-4 T. fresh parsley
If your beans are very long, cut them in half. Soak in a cold water bath completely submerged for 5-10 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, adding the onion to saute until translucent. Add the garlic, once the garlic becomes aromatic, add the potato cubes and mix a few minutes to distribute the oil and slightly cook. Add the tomatoes and hot water and cook for 5 minutes, drain the beans and rinse once more. Add the beans to the pan, sprinkling some salt and pepper over them. Stir in the beans with the tomatoes and potatoes, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and add a little more water if the sauce looks too dry. Cook about 10 minutes more, or until the beans are as tender as you would like. Serve hot with a slice of feta cheese. 

Fasolakia color Green Beans in Tomato Sauce
Simple, frugal, nutritious, and tastes really wonderful after a long day! This is the most basic recipe that is traditionally Greek, but you can always spice it up to your liking with mushrooms or chicken or whatever you’d like to add. I highly recommend this for a week night dinner or lazy Sunday afternoon. Enjoy and kali orexi. 

Recipe taken from a great cookbook called Greece by Rena Salaman and Jan Cutler. 

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Imam Bayildi or The Cleric Fainted

eggplant trio closeup 2 Imam Bayildi or The Cleric Fainted

This is the Turkish name for a dish that is also very common in Greek cuisine. There are many foods that are debated over whether it is originally Greek or Turkish, but of course it is difficult to determine because of the 400 year occupation and the population exchange. Probably the only positive aspect of this terrible aspect of history, was one very big recipe swap.

The Greek name for stuffed eggplants is “papoutsakia” which also translates as shoes. But regardless of what you call this, it is a wonderful vegetarian delight. The combination of olive oil, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes melting in your mouth together is really delicious. The key is to really cook your eggplant so it is soft and literally melting in your mouth.

Mushroom Veggie Soup

Soups are perfect for cold, rainy days, but they are also great for winter days when the temperature is bright, clear, and in the 70′s like we have had recently. I get more excited here about the weather/season changes because for us that means a new variety of fruits and vegetables. The one difficult thing to maintain here is that I have to plan my cooking around what is in season and available, there are no Wholefoods or any sort of American grocery stores here – at least on the island. 
With winter comes heart healthy veggies, and this soup is a testament to how delicious it can be to eat healthy!
DSC 0016 Mushroom Veggie Soup

Shroom Veggie Soup: (Serves 4-6)
1 Lg. Onion, chopped
3-4 T. EVOO
1 Lg. (or 2 sm.) Leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 Med. Potatoes, peeled and chopped (I would prefer New Potatoes if I could find them)
4-5 White mushrooms, wiped and sliced
~ About 6-8 cups Homemade stock, hot (or bouillon cube and hot water) 
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 tsp. dried Coriander
Dash cayenne (optional)
1-2 tsp. Seasalt (only add if using homemade stock)
~ 1 tsp. Black pepper, freshly ground

Saute the onion with the olive oil on medium low heat until fragrant and translucent. Add the leek slices and mix well; next, add the potatoes. Raise the heat to medium high. Continue to stir occasionally for another 5-8 minutes. Add the oregano, cayenne, pepper, salt, or bouillon, stirring to coat everything. Toss in mushrooms and continue cooking for another minute or two.  Add hot stock or water to the soup and continue a steady simmer until potatoes and mushrooms are fork tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly. I usually add a cup of soup to the blender to process and then stir back into the soup pot, this gives your soup a little thicker consistency and blends the flavors all together. Blend even more for an even thicker soup. 

Serve hot with a whole wheat crusty bread, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.  I think it is great plain too. 

DSC 0018 Mushroom Veggie Soup

This soup didn’t last more than a day in our house. We ate it for lunch and dinner. Soups are so quick and easy to make, not to mention all the vitamins and nutrition you are getting too. Soups are also hard to mess up, if you begin with sauteed onion and cook all of your veggies, it is sure to please everyone around!  

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Tyropita me praso.

This is a wonderful not-quite-quiche-like but utterly melt in your mouth good pie made with leeks and feta. 
sharp pie  Tyropita me praso.

To start off this new food blog of mine, I would like to share my first recipe I found from the Sporades islands. Well, I did not actually find it there – it hails from there to be more specific.

It is a simple, yet delicately delicious, “quiche-like” cheese pie. It is perfectly suitable for a mid-morning snack, a light lunch combo served with a salad, or an after-dinner-but-I-am-still-hungry delight. Whatever time of day, a sure to satisfy recipe follows!

Hi! My name is Jacquline. Welcome to my blog. I hope you will find some delicious Greek food recipes and enjoy the read along the way! Kali Orexi :)


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