All posts tagged: easy recipe

fig salad

Figs, rocket and ‘xinotyri’ salad

When in Naxos we have more figs than we can handle. Just two fig trees produce such quantities than we do not even have to stretch more than where our arms reach to collect whole baskets. We feel somehow obliged not to waste such glorious fruits and we try to come up with new ways to prepare and preserve them. Two years ago we decided to use them for chutney. I do not remember with how many kilos of dubious fig chutney we ended up. This year we continued to explore. We wanted to combine with other local ingredients. Potatoes, fish and protocyladic art were opted out… but honey and xinotyri    – the local variety of goat cheese – were a hit! We adapted the following salad from Ottolenghi’s ‘The Cookbook’. Serves 4 600g figs ( approximately 8 large figs), washed and cut into quarters 200g xinotyri from Naxos ( or any goat’s cheese of your liking), cut into large chunks 100g rocket leaves (preferably wild) handful of basil leaves 2 Tbsp thyme honey …

eggplants with tomato sauce and feta

‘Mad apples’ with tomato sauce and feta

Eggplants are a staple food of the Mediterranean summer. At the same time they never got rid of an air of mystery. First, the name. The Greeks call them ‘melintzana’, which is a strange sounding word for such a familiar crop. It is a byzantine combination of the Arab ‘bāḏinjān’ and the Greek ‘melas’ – black. The Italians call it melanzana , which sounds close to  mela insana – ‘mad apple’, echoing the origin of the crop from the toxic nightshade species. Then, the origin of the cultivated specie: is it India, China or SE Asia? Perhaps it was domesticated more than once, reminding us of the debate of origin of the homo sapiens. Did we play for eggplants the role nature played on us on our way out of Africa, combining different evolutionary trails, still not fully understood? Then it is the colour of the black variety, unlikely to anything other fruit: black and shiny, ready for interpretation by an oracle – or like a missed opportunity to inspire an Italian art nouveau movement in the early …

Summertime Spaghetti

Tomato, garlic, basil and feta pasta

In a hot summer day, we sometimes want something that is easy and fast to prepare. The first idea is pasta with fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, basil and garlic. And talking about garlic, Thannasis Veggos comes to mind, my favourite of all the Greek actors and comedians. He was the archetype of the poor working man in hard times, dignified and humane, always in a hurry, never giving up and trying to come into terms with social roles and en-vogue fashion.In one of his masterpieces of the 60s he is a detective, looking up to James Bond. In an assignment he has to mingle in a hippy – flower power community. Part of his disguise, and instead of a necklace of flowers around his neck, is a string of garlics, like the one you find in the open markets or old school groceries. What great art! So garlic, besides everything else, reminds me of Veggos. And there is plenty of garlic in this easy, summertime pasta. It is not even a recipe, but it suits …

nettle omelette

Stinging Nettle Omelette

Nettles are some of the most irritating plants. Tellingly they feature in an early 20th century expressionist opera, where one of the (obviously distressed) protagonists declares that they grow out of her, but is too weak to weed them out. The grove next to our house is full of them during spring, but we are somehow reluctant to pick them. Instead we let some grow in the garden in Anavyssos, and collect the most tender leaves – of course with long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves. When cooked they become harmless and add an extra aroma to the recipe. They are great in pies and risottos and make delicious omelettes. Serves 2 1/2 cup olive oil 40g spring onions, the white and tender green parts, chopped 100g young nettle tops, washed, dried and chopped coarsely (Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves when you’re handling them) 30g dill, chopped 4 eggs 15g milk 80g feta cheese, crumbled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Whisk the eggs  in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt, a few grinds …

greek salad on pitas

Oven Baked Greek Salad on Pita Bread

Pita bread topped with cheese and some vegetables and then grilled must have been one of the most ancient snacks. It is so tasty and obvious, that one wonders why food preparation evolved beyond it! We love this variant, with greek salad on top. The tension of the ingredients is kept, it is super light and very easy to prepare. The reward is disproportional to the effort or calories though! The only constraint is that you must serve it immediately, hot from the oven! Serves 2-3 6 small sized and thin pitas 6 -8 cherry tomatoes, sliced 1 medium onion (120g), finely sliced 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 red bell pepper, finely sliced 2 Tbsp capers 150g feta cheese, crumbled 1 Tbsp Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced 1 pinch dried oregano freshly ground black pepper Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan). Place the pitas on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. In a bowl combine the onions with the olive oil and the salt. Let the onions in the marinade for 15 minutes, then …

Jurassic affinities : Chicken drumsticks, spicy and fragrant

Even growing up in the pre-Jurassic Park era I was fascinated by dinosaurs. The relevant sections in illustrated books were my favourite. I recall the species, and even now get annoyed whenever one gets re-classified and receives a new name. I regretted the fact that I would never encounter a magnificent t-rex or diplodocus. And then, discoveries in China proved that birds are the decedents of dinos! Not only that, but for a period birds evolved to fearsome predators, on the top of the food chain! It somehow was soothing that I could look at ostriches and even humble chickens and think of a more glorious ancestry. And, at least, we know how they tasted. Like chicken! Serves 4 4 Tbsp lemon juice 2 tsp honey 4 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped 1 Tbsp ground cumin 2 Tbsp dijon mustard 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional,depending on your spice tolerance) 4 Tbsp dry white wine 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1kg chicken drumsticks (about 10) coarse sea salt For …

tomato and watermelon gazpacho

Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

When we are staying in our summerhouse in Anavyssos, (about 50kms from Athens, on the Saronic Gulf) we almost feel compelled to use local products. In the summer the population doubles in Anavyssos and the beaches get packed with  day trippers from Athens. Nevertheless stubbornly and somehow out of context we navigate through the Touristenströmung to local  farmers and cheese producers to source our daily ingredients. The last time we visited one of the producers for vegetables, he offered us a watermelon. Here is the result: tomato and watermelon gazpacho. Serves 8 For the Gazpacho 2kg ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and roughly chopped 400g watermelon flesh, deseeded and roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped 150g onion, roughly chopped 50g celery, leaves and stalks roughly chopped 150ml tomato juice 10g basil leaves 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 200ml extra virgin olive oil 3/4 tsp sea salt freshly ground black pepper To serve croutons or bread in small cubes cucumber, cut into small cubes feta cheese, cut into small cubes watermelon flesh, deseeded and cut …