With the Christmas festivities and feasting over, it is perhaps time to reverse the effects of our indulgence in rich food. It is also summer and a good time to look at some tasty dishes that are both tasty and healthy and will appeal to vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
Here are but a few dishes to consider. Greek cuisine is filled with many dishes that avoid use of meat or fish.
Yemista and Dolmathes: slow baked hollowed out tomatoes, green pepers, courgettes stuffed with rice and mint with mint. with roast potatoes on the side. Alternately, you could prepare meat-free dolmathes of vine leaves wrapped around a rice, pine nut and dill mix.
Stewed Green Beans: Green beans stewed with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, zucchinis and fresh dill. Peas do just as well instead of or with green beans. The beauty of this dish is its versatility. For example, you can add zucchinis about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking. While it is always best to use fresh ingredients you can get away with using frozen green beans.
Revithia: Do not forget the chick peas to make revithia – chickpeas boiled slowly until soft then thickened with olive oil and flavoured with Oregano and lemon juice.
Lentil Soup: Lentil Soup or Faki is easy to prepare and very nutritious and also easy to prepare. Cooked with onions, garlic, olive oil and bay leaves with a little bit of vinegar added over the bowl. Goes well with a side dish of olives.
Spanakopita: Spinach is a nutritious superfood and presenting it encased in phyllo pastry is the Greek way to make the most of this superfood. Better yet, make your own phyllo pastry – a process that may be rewarding in that you know exactly what has gone into making the phyllo, but you will need to set some time aside to prepare.
Spanakorizo: This is an easy dish that makes the most of spinach in combination with rice. A one-pot dish that also needs onion, olive oil all cooked together. Serve with squeeze of lemon on top.
Meatless gyro: if you are reluctant to let go off the souvlaki why not substitute meat with its flavourful vegetable alternative the eggplant
Salads come to their fore at summer time because they not only suit the weather but are also easy to prepare, appealing to the palate and very nutritious:
Horiatiki Salad: It may be a “villager’s” salad but the world has adopted it as its own. Use flavoursome ripe tomatoes, green peppers, cucumber, onion and olives, dry oregano sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil. Traditionally the tomatoes and cucumber are cut into large pieces, whole olives are used. No leafy greens, like lettuce, are used. The feta cheese is not cut into small pieces but served large on top of the salad. The ingredients are not mixed before they are served on shallow bowl or soup plate rather than a deep salad bowl. Red wine vinegar may be added if required.
Greek Potato Salad: A good filling salad which includes boiled potatoes, with shallots, oregano, olive oil, lemon juice and white pepper are all you need. You can serve straight after cooking or chilled. It can keep up to three days in the fridge without spoiling.
Greek Beetroot Salad: Patzarosalata uses boiled beetroot combined with fresh beetroot leaves and an olive oil and vinegar dressing.
Cabbage and carrot salad: Shred the cabbage leaves and carrots serve with dressing of olive oil, vinegar or lemon
Horta Vrasta: This dish may be an acquired taste but it is easy to prepare relying on curly endives or other leafy cousins of the chicory family that include rathikia (dandelion leaves). You need large quantity of leaves which you first clean in water and white vinegar. Boil the leaves in water for about 20 minutes and then drain. Serve with dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.
Skordalia: This garlic potato paste is the traditional staple that is served with cod on Greek Indepence Day on 25 March. The Skordalia is the perfect union of the boiled and mashed potato with crushed garlic, red-wine vinegar or lemon and olive oil. A versatile side dish that can be refrigerated and used for a few days after preparation. Careful you do not use too much garlic.