Greek Village Salad

Greek salads are fabulous, are they not? Of course, even though there is a lot of controversy about whether tomatoes are included or whether cucumbers should be peeled. Should lettuce be included? The jury is out.

Like any country, the exact methods of salad making vary across the country, so it is good to relax and go with the flow. It is Summer after all, and there is nothing like a great Greek Salad (whatever version) to nibble on or to accompany a meal. I do include lettuce sometimes – it makes a nice bed for the salad.

Similar recipes include Capsicum, Feta and Pistachio Spread, Baked Feta with Tomatoes, and Fava.

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Collapsed Beetroot Greens (or any Greens or Cabbage) with Mustard Seeds and Vinegar

One of my online friends calls this technique hypercooked vegetables – long cooking so familiar in the traditional Italian and Greek cuisines. The result is a surprising lusciousness, intensity of flavour, and an almost stickiness. They are deeply flavoured and a little tart. I have made this dish with cabbage and with beetroot greens, but I am sure it would work with any leafy greens that do not collapse immediately on heat (eg most of the salad greens would be unsuitable).

You will find it difficult to stop diving into the cooking pot once these have collapsed down into their jammy texture. But if you do leave some, serve as a side dish, or over rice or any other grain, lentil or bean (freekeh, couscous, white beans, burghul, red rice, etc), turn into a soup with a handful of the one of the tiniest soup pastas, orzo pasta or rice, or just ladle it over thick slices of toast with a drizzle of olive oil. I have also cooked turnips, diced, and added to these beetroot greens. I sometimes add sultanas to counterpoint the tartness.

The mustard seeds and cumin that I added this time are purely optional.

Do try on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you have time to let the greens collapse and intensify.

Similar recipes include Greek Village Salad, Parsley Braised with Tomatoes and Olive Oil, and Green Beans with Tomatoes.

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Dried Fava Beans with Onions, Fennel, Sage and Lime/Lemon

You no doubt know of my love for dried broad beans by now. And this riff on a Greek dish is one of my favourites (along with the Fava Bean and Turmeric Soup). Here I have combined my favourite flavours of the dried broad beans with a little fennel bulb and a hit of turmeric, and then lifted the flavours with some ever-so-sweet caramelised red onions. Into that goes the rind and juice of a lime or lemon. It is fairly easy to make – it takes time but most of it is not hands-on.

The lovely book Ikaria by Diane Kochilas has a similar recipe – a little simpler perhaps but full of flavour too.

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Capsicums Cooked in Tomatoes and Garlic

These might look like a mess to you, but to me the pics make my mouth water. It is one of the best ways to cook capsicums that I know – the flavours in this simple dish are truly amazing. The capsicums are slowly simmered in tomatoes, garlic and olive oil until collapsed and tender. Some of the capsicums melt into the sauce. It is sweet and delicious. Eaten with just feta, crusty bread and perhaps a green salad, it evokes the rustic cooking of Greece. Add wine to your meal if you wish. It is a great Summer dish – imagine eating it under the grape vines outside with a dozen friends.

I have long said that Diane Kochilas is my favourite Greek cookbook author, and I’ve had her huge bible of Greek cooking for decades. (Follow her on Instagram.) Recently I fell in love with two more of her books – Country Greek Cooking and Ikaria. This dish is adapted from one in Ikaria. If you love Greek food you should get this book.

Similar dishes include Greek Village Salad, Sweet Capsicum Salad with Tomato Dressing, Capsicum, Tomato and Pistachio Dip, and Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Red Capsicum.

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Gigantes or Lima Beans Baked with Tomatoes and Pomegranate Molasses

I have a few loved recipes where beans are baked in stock and a drizzle of oil. We make them all Winter because they are so easy to make, so delicious, and they can accompany almost anything. Both the Italians and the Greeks are specialists at baking beans.

In this recipe we use Lima beans as a substitute for Gigantes which we cannot get locally. They have a shorter cooking time, so if you are lucky enough to have true Gigantes, cook for a little longer.

We have used our home made molasseses in this dish and love it with our home made pomegranate molasses and our quince molasses. I have used Hawaiian Chilli Water too. Use Grape Molasses if you have it for an authentic Greek touch, or try other available types – date molasses or even tamarind molasses. When the molasses has been too sweet I have added sour grapes from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern stores. Each variation will give the beans a different flavour, so you will never get bored with this dish. Diane Kochilas, in her book Ikaria, says she has made this dish with pine honey and orange juice! Diane is my go-to person for Greek recipes.

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Greek Chickpeas Slow Baked in Stock and Olive Oil with Herbs and Tomatoes

These will have to be the softest chickpeas ever. They are par boiled then baked in a slow oven for 2.5 hours. The dish is served either hot, warm or cold – it will make a meal in itself with a little feta and a green salad or some cooked greens. The recipe is adapted from Ikaria, by my favourite Greek cookbook author, Diane Kochilas.  It is a dish that can be made at any time of the year.

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Capsicum, Feta and Pistachio Spread and Dip

Feta cheese whips up into a smooth, creamy spread when blended with olive oil in the food processor. It’s a Greek thing, and the favourite way to flavour it in Greece is with garlic, mint and capsicums as a piquant dip for pita bread. A common variation on this is to combine it with capsicums, chilli and pistachios.

The beautiful dip and spread can be served in any number of ways. Serve with crudité or toasted baguette, warmed focaccia, toast, or flat bread. Place on a platter with veggie sticks and crackers. Serve it with radishes and cucumber spears for dipping. Lather it on grilled sweet corn and top with  fresh herbs and grated Mizithra cheese or grated haloumi. Drizzle dakos or friselle with tomato juice and a good olive oil and top with this dip.

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Chickpea and Orzo Pasta Soup

Chickpeas combined with orzo (rice shaped pasta), other pasta or rice is quite common in Italy, Spain and Greece. The dishes are usually simply cooked, perhaps with one herb or spice addition. Garlic, saffron, rosemary and hot peppers are quite common choices.

Today we have a soup with chickpeas and orzo, flavoured with rosemary. It is a simple, rustic and delicate soup, meditative to eat and quiet in its flavour profile. But bang full of nutrition and so very enjoyable. It can be a meal in itself, perhaps with a green salad and crusty bread to follow.

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Green Beans with Tomatoes | Fagiolini in Umido

Green Beans are versatile and delicious. They are common in many parts of the world, so common in fact that we take them for granted. The humble green bean is always there, forming part of our meals without hogging the lime light and without us paying too much attention to them.

But I have some recipes that will change that view. This recipe is Italian, a simple dish but delicious in that the flavours of the beans shine against the tomatoes. It is rustic, a farm dish indeed, but worthy of any table.

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Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Red Capsicum

Baked Feta is a perfect mezza dish, served with crackers or flatbread. Flavoursome, soft, mouth watering, the baked feta is aromatic and elicits sounds of approval from your friends at your shared table. It is the sort of dish that you can make at the last minute – your friends arrive unexpectedly at meal time, as they do.

Or it is a great snack, mid afternoon, with a pot of mint tea. And it goes really well on Summery days when the BBQ is lit and people are milling around, nibbling, while the salads are made and the vegetable kebabs are cooking. We have also had it on a Winter’s day as we sit around the fire, reading, writing and chatting. Best of all, it is a perfect Summer Holidays dish, when no-one wants to cook much at all.

This recipe is a mish-mash of Italian and Greek. Definitely Mediterranean.

Similar recipes include  Capsicums Baked with Feta and Tomatoes,Slow Braised Peppers in Olive Oil, Parsley and Barley Salad with Feta, Du Puy Lentils with Feta, and Baked Eggplant with Feta.

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