When I first wrote about the wonderful no-knead bread dough that waits patiently in the fridge for whenever you need it, I promised you variations like this delicious olive-bread with herbs. It can be a quick snack on its own. If you have 3 minutes…
When preparing beans I usually soak and sprout twice the amount needed for my recipe. Leftover pulses are stored in the freezer for immediate use in another recipe.
What does “sprouting” mean?
First, I wash the pulses well. Then, I soak them in plenty of water, preferably with a little yogurt or kefir serum for 12-24 hours, depending on their type.
The next day, I spread them out in a colander, where I rinse them thoroughly and let them drain. To keep the sink area clear, I rest the colander on a shallow baking tray of the same size. The pan should be shallow enough for the air to circulate freely.
I leave them to sprout for 1-3 days, just covered with a muslin. I make sure to “water” them by rinsing them every 6 hours. I also mix them well, to redistribute them in the colander, as there is more moisture towards the bottom compared to the top.
Once they’ve sprouted, I rinse them well before cooking or storing them in the freezer. On really hot days, I soak & sprout in the fridge.
Why do I put myself (and my beans) through this process?
Mainly because legumes contain nutritional inhibitors that hinder the absorption of nutrients. By soaking, sprouting and cooking or serving with small amounts of meat or fish, you can enrich the meals of young children. They usually eat very small amounts, so every spoonful should be packed with nutrients.
According to the Ministry of Development:
You can find more information in this brochure of the World Food and Agriculture Organization:
Let’s rewarded ourselves for our patience with “Fasolatha” a traditional white bean soup with “apaki” Cretan cured pork.
- 0,5 kg white small beans
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper in 3-4 large pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 liters broth
- 200 gr. Apaki or pancetta sliced
- Juice from half a lemon
Soak the beans in plenty of water for 24 hours. Rinse and sprout as described above. It will take 24-48 hours to see the first sprouts.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry all the vegetables for 5 ‘ to soften along with the bay leaf. Add the cold broth and beans, then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 ‘ to 40 ‘. Check often because with soaking beans cook and soften much faster.
When the beans are done, take out the pepper and some of the bean soup with a ladle. Pour it into the blender and liquidize. Strain back into the bean soup, stir well and bring back to the boil for 5′. Meanwhile, quickly fry the Apaki in a frying pan for 5′ and add the lemon juice at the end. Serve the “fasolatha” soup with a little apaki on every plate.
There must be a Dutch oven or no-knead bread recipe on almost every self-respecting food blog or site. When Mark Bittman first mentioned Jim Lahey’s recipe, in 2006, in the NY Times, it became one of their most popular articles. The use of the Dutch…
In the midst of this constant barrage of information on modern nutrition, the value of vegetables remains constant and undeniable. In the traditional Mediterranean diet, we very often see imaginative combinations of vegetables with (sometimes only a little) meat or fish, depending on the season…
This is one of our favorite recipes, made throughout late summer and early autumn. With the beautiful Indian summer we’ve been having this October, I was happy to make it with the last fresh corn from the Farmer’s market. Like a farewell to the bright and sunny days this summer brought, before starting preparations for a cosy winter.
If you own a vertical chicken roaster, by all means use it by standing it in the middle of the roasting pan. Just ignore instructions to turn the chicken and remember to empty the chicken’s cooking juices into the pan every 20-30 minutes or so. If you don’t have one, just start the chicken roasting by laying it down on one breast, then the other, then laying it on its back. It is a bit fiddly, but it’s also the best way to ensure even cooking and a nice crispy skin.
I almost always use free-range chickens these days. They are humanely raised and the taste is far superior, so do try and get the best quality you can find, it really does make a difference. Also keep the carcass bones and simmer them the next day for a quick and well flavored chicken stock.
- 1 free-range chicken, about 1.4 kg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- 250 ml chicken stock
- 700 gr corn on the cob
- 3 cups chickpeas, cooked
- 50 gr butter, softened
- 2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper
Mix the softened butter with the paprika and seasoning. Spread all over the chicken and place it in a large roasting tin, lying it on one breast. Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat enough water to boil the corn in.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Add the Worcester sauce, cider vinegar, marjoram, thyme, palm sugar and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Boil the corn for 5 minutes, then reserve 300 ml of cooking liquid. Drain and slice thickly. Add to the roasting tin with the chicken and spoon over the chickpea mixture.
Roast the chicken for 20′, then turn to the other breast, baste well and roast for another 20′. Turn the chicken on its back and cook for another 20′. Add the reserved cooking liquid and stir through then roast for a final 20′. Total roasting time should be around 1 hour 20′.
It’s funny how borlotti or cranberry beans also have two names in Greek: chandres (beads) or barbounia (red mullet, yes really). They are so beautiful that I almost feel sad when I see them lose their color cooked. Their slightly sweet and hearty tasty, quickly…
At home we prefer traditional or free range chickens. Their taste is incredible, the rearing conditions are humane and their nutritional value is higher. Even though the difference in cost might seem high, 2 large 3 kg hens with proper management, can provide at least 4-5 family meals in relation to a couple of small chickens that will provide 2.
Once our chickens are delivered from our beloved free-range farm in Ioannina, Western Greece, I set aside a whole chicken for the Sunday dinner that we will share with our friends and divide the other two into thighs, breasts and carcass with wings. The breast will become a homemade deli meat or a quick stir fry, while the carcasses will each make soups or broth and chicken pie. As for the thighs, usually they are slow roasted in the oven, as in this recipe here. Of course, for this dish, you can use a the whole chicken in portions. However, in this case, you will need to remove the breast 10 minutes before the end of cooking time so that it does not dry out.
Jointing a chicken is very easy to learn by watching one of the many videos available. It’s easy to do if you have a good, sharpened knife and a big chopping board. Nevertheless, you can always ask your butcher to do it for you.
On to the green beans and the twist of this traditional recipe. As they are baked in the oven, essentially steamed by the sauce, they remain green and crunchy. My kids seem to prefer this version to the usually overcooked, very soft, green beans that can result when using the stove top. Let the younger children help you wash them and snap them in half by hand while you trim their edges and any side fibers. Let older children help trim the beans with the knife on a cutting board.
Ideally, use an ovenproof casserole, otherwise you will need to do the first portion of the cooking on the stovetop in a large heavy bottomed pot and then empty it in a lidded baking tray for the oven.
- 2 tbsps clarified butter or olive oil
- 4 free-range chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 3 allspice berries
- 100 ml wine
- 50 ml red wine vinegar
- 1 kg flat green beans, trimmed
- 500 gr. grated tomato
- 200 ml water
- 1/2 a bunch of dill, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Heat the casserole over a high heat and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken thighs well with the butter on all sides and set aside. Add the onions with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spring onions and carrots. Return the thighs to the on the bottom of the hull and pour over the wine and vinegar. Allow to evaporate, then the tomatoes and water. As soon as it boils, cover, lower the heat, let it simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 200 C.
Layer the green beans over the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cover, bring to the boil and place in the oven for 45 ‘. Check to see when the meat is done, remove it, stir the green beans well and place the thighs back in the casserole, but on top of the green beans this time. Cook uncovered for another 20 minutes to reduce the sauce and brown the skin of the chicken. Once browned, take out of the oven, sprinkle with finely chopped dill and serve.
This is a classic summer dish that I keep making well into October as the produce and the weather is still so summery. A little bit of sausage goes a long way in persuading my kids to happily down this trayful of veggie goodness. As…