Greek. Difficult to speak, difficult to write, difficult to decipher and understand…but very, very easy to eat. How can something so challenging for the tongue be so delightful to the taste buds? Greek cuisine is unique and distinguishable from both its Mediterranean and Middle Eastern neighbors. We love the history, the legends and the culture, so it’s only natural that we love the food.
And of course, we’d like to bring a little Greek into our own homes. These authentic recipes are straight from the sapphire blue waters, snow white buildings, sunny shores and magnificent ruins of Greece. So put on some Greek music, grease up your hands with Greek EVOO and get in the kitchen!
Menu: Tzatziki and domates yemistes.
2 cucumbers (medium-large)
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 16-ounce tubs of Greek yogurt (2 lbs)
3 teaspoons of dill (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel the cucumber and chop it finely. Squeeze out excess water, or else the sauce will be too thin. Salt it generously.
2. Blend pealed garlic cloves and olive oil on low in a processor. Alternatively, simply crush garlic mix well in oil.
3. Combine cucumber, garlic paste, and yogurt (plus dill if desired) in a bowl and season with salt and pepper (do not overpower with salt – tzatziki is meant to taste fresh). Mix well and serve chilled with toasted pita chips, warm bread or vegetables.
10 medium tomatoes, or 6 large
1/2 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons dill (chopped)
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup rice
1 garlic clove
1.5 cups olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut tops off tomatoes but keep and set aside. Scoop out pulp and insides of tomatoes, chop and set aside.
2. Chop onions finely and saute in 1/2 cup olive oil on medium heat until golden. Add lamb and cook until just brown. Add tomato pulp, parsley, crushed garlic, dill, oregano, rice, salt and pepper. Stir ingredients until well blended, then add tomato paste and wine. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place empty tomato “baskets” in a casserole dish. Sprinkle lightly with sugar (optional), then stuff with meat rice mixture and cover with tomato tops. Cover tomatoes with remaining cup of olive oil and add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the dish. Season with oregano.
4. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, basting frequently. These can be served hot or cold. If you would prefer them as a light starter, then don’t use the ground lamb. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top for extra flavor.