20 March 2015

Lenten salad with quinoa & pomegranate (Σαλάτα με ρόδι και κινόα για τη νηστεία)

 

 

Autumn makes herself known when the soft orange-pink pomegranates start to appear on my father in law's trees, like spectacular Christmas ornaments. It marks the start of one of my favourite seasons and always reminds me that my wedding anniversary is not too far away. I can always remember my dad and my father in law enjoying a very happy, animated conversation and a Greek coffee in the garden with an impressive backdrop of pomegranate trees, that were simply heaving with fruit, behind them on the day after our wedding. My father in law took cuttings from his trees and now they grow in my parents garden - and this is the first year that the new trees have produced a very generous and healthy quantity of fruit that is filled with sweet ruby coloured gems.

 

 

 

Lent stays with us for a few more weeks yet and the recent baskets of pomegranates from both of our parents has provided a good source of inspiration for our almost vegan diet. Indeed they were the star feature in this filling salad that graced our dinner table this week. The salad overflowed with little pomegranate jewels offering a sweet crunch, contrasted against the nutty quinoa, black eyed peas, chickpeas and toasted sesame seeds. A little touch of allspice enhanced the earthy flavours and there was also a sprinkle of bright green dill for a subtle aniseed hit.

 

 

 

Lenten salad with quinoa & pomegranate

(Σαλάτα με ρόδι και κινόα για τη νηστεία)

1/2 cup black eyed peas

1/2 cup chickpeas

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup pomegranate seeds & their juice

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice

2 tsp of Greek wine vinegar

1 & 1/2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Method:

1. Put the black eyed peas and chickpeas in separate bowls, top with water and soak for 8 hours.

2. Drain the legumes, rinse well and gently boil the washed legumes in separate pots. When tender, rinse them under running water and strain well.

3. For the quinoa, rinse well. Add to a pot and bring to the boil with 1 cup of vegetable stock. Stir once, and them reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Take off the heat and let it rest, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

4. Mix together the legumes, quinoa, dill and onion in a large bowl and set aside.

5. In a small bowl, whisk pomegranate molasses, garlic, vinegar, all spice, olive oil and sea salt to taste. Pour over the legumes and gently mix. Fold through half of the sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and their juice. Arrange the salad on a platter and then sprinkle over the remaining sesame and pomegranate seeds and finish with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

 

3 March 2015

In my kitchen: March

 

In my kitchen this month, I am enjoying the rich bounty of late summer produce – tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants from the garden. I am also very excited to be welcoming into my kitchen, over the coming weeks some spectacular autumn produce – figs, pomegranates, chestnuts and more! Thankfully, there are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables in season at the moment, as over the next few weeks the menus in my kitchen are going to be fasting friendly.

1 March 2015

Lenten Onion Pie (κρεμμύδoπίτα νηστεία)

 

 

While Greek food is so much about the seasons and homegrown produce, it is also driven by the festival calendar. We recently started one of the most significant fasting periods in the Greek calendar, Great Lent.

 

This period is called nistia (νηστεία) and traditionally requires you to abstain from meat, eggs, dairy, fish (shellfish are ok), olive oil and alcohol. You are also required to limit the number of meals consumed each day. In recent times, many people do not fast for the whole period of lent (Clean Monday until Easter Sunday) but they do still fast in different ways. For many people, they will not eat meat for the entire period of lent but will still eat dairy. For others, they will not eat meat for the entire period of lent and will also be completely vegan, oil and alcohol free on Wednesdays and Fridays - which are regarded as significant fasting days in the Orthodox calendar year. In addition to this, most people fast strictly during the first and last week of Lent as well as Holy Week, breaking the fast after midnight on Easter Saturday with bowls of mageritsa soup.

25 February 2015

Wild summer greens: Quick skordalia with purslane & horta style warrigal greens

 

 

 

My love for wild greens has not abated this summer. My first love, the sweet green summer vlita (βλήτα), had to vie for attention as my affection for crispy lemony purslane has grown. We have enjoyed purslane slowly braised along with zucchini and vlita in a spicy tomato sauce, as well as a variety of salads - from simple tomato and olive - to a really fresh and punchy traditional Lebanese fattoush, the recipe courtesy of my gorgeous friend, Mama Z. I hope to share the recipe for fattoush with you soon, before the purslane of summer disappears. However, this week I needed a starchy hit - but I had a basket absolutely brimming with freshly picked purslane. The solution - a quick skordalia with purslane (σκορδαλιά με αντράκλα).

 

14 February 2015

Yemista Politika (Γεμιστές Πολιτικά)

 

 

 

Ask any Greek child, what is their favourite dish and I am sure many would answer yemista – a dish of stuffed tomatoes and sometimes eggplant, zucchini or zucchini blossoms and capsicums that are baked in the oven. A childhood love of yemista never fades. The other day Mr K was reminiscing about how the capsicums were always his favourite and he would carefully select them from the big ‘tapsi’ containing the colourful yemista.

 

13 January 2015

Stuffed zucchini flowers with rice, mint & fennel pollen (Λουλούδια κολοκυθιάς γεμιστά)

Like many food bloggers, I am often asked, why do you have a blog? Why do you write about food? Why is it all about Greek food? The simple answer is, when your Greek father in law gives you a dazzling basket of freshly picked, home grown zucchini blossoms – you need to know what to do with them. So much love and hard work goes into home grown produce and I want to be able to treat it with the respect it deserves.

11 January 2015

Kalamari pilaf (Καλαμαρί πιλάφι)


 

Rice pilaf dishes are incredibly popular in Greece and come in varied forms. The most simple pilaf is made with homemade stock, olive oil, lemon and herbs such as bay and cinnamon. Special occasion or ceremonial pilaf, such as the Cretan wedding pilaf is cooked in stock made from quality meat and bones. To enhance the taste of the pilaf, fresh butter is also used in generous quantities. My sister in law's mother, who is from Crete, is well known for her amazing pilaf recipe. I am hoping to learn this dish one day soon. Then there are homely pilaf dishes, which feature regularly on our weeknight menu, such as spanakorizo (spinach rice) or prassorizo (leek rice) - and my mother in law's delicious kalamari pilaf.

7 January 2015

Imam Bayildi (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί)





There has to be a gazillion recipes for Imam Bayildi (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί). It is one of those shared dishes amongst Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and it is very popular in Greece – available on most tavern menus in summer.


The phrase imam bayildi is Turkish for "the priest fainted". It is believed the amount of olive oil used in the dish when first served to the priest was so abundant, it caused him to faint – olive oil being incredibly expensive at that point in time.


4 January 2015

Patzarosaláta: chilled beetroot and garlic yoghurt salad




This has to be one of my most favourite salads - it's a variation on the traditional Greek beetroot salad, patzarosaláta (παντζάροσαλάτα).

In Greece, patzarosaláta, is usually served two ways. The beetroot, along with their greens, are boiled. Once they have cooled, they are sliced and served with a generous dressing of olive oil and wine vinegar. This salad is served alongside a dish of skordalia, feta cheese and bread.


2 January 2015

In my kitchen January 2015



Καλή Χρονια! Kali Xronia – happy new year!!

Καλή Χρονια to Celia, In My Kitchen bloggers and lovely readers! I hope your 2015 is full of good health, happiness.....and loads of new kitchen discoveries and inspiration from all my fellow IMK bloggers.


In My Kitchen this January...

we are enjoying plenty of refreshing summer salads packed with one of my favourite summer greens - purslane. We have a little crop growing in our garden, but my parents in law have an abundance. My mother in law calls purslane andrakla (αντράκλα) - as it is called in her home island of Zakynthos and my father in law calls it by its Peloponnesian name - glystrida (γλυστρίδα). By either name, it is delicious and packed to the brim with potent antioxidants - a happy relief after I enjoyed perhaps a little too much wonderful Christmas feasting. Purslane is lemony tart, but sweet and crunchy all at the same time. It is hard to substitute and if you don't have any growing in your garden, but you might find some available at Farmer's markets.


29 December 2014

Summer dolmádes (ντολμάδες)



The grape vine is probably one of the most used plants in Greek home cooking. Nearly every part of the plant is used, except for the roots. In late Spring, the fresh stems and shoots are pickled in a spiced vinegar and used in salads or served on its own as as a meze (see this link to Kalofagas for a very moving blog post about how Peter's papou made pickled grape vine shoots).

28 December 2014

'Apricot, sour cherry & metaxa delights' & classic rum balls



As I mentioned in my last post, apricot delights and rum balls have long been a favourite holiday treat in our house, courtesy of my Nana. They are perfect to have on hand in the fridge over the festive season when friends or family drop in - but they are also pretty good at any time of the year, especially as a great way to finish off a meal as a part of a petit four or on a fresh seasonal fruit platter.