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…
The original recipe is called Keema Chole and is Indian, belonging to Punjabi cuisine. It exists in many traditional versions, but this is not one of them. I prefer a somewhat drier and faster version by Mark Bittman that I saw on NYT Cooking, made in less from 20 ‘ in the cast iron pan, as long as you have cooked or canned chickpeas available.
As canned chickpeas are not readily available in Greece, one way is to have chickpeas leftover from this traditional Greek chickpea dish sifneiki revithada. The other is to have already soaked, sprouted and half-cooked chickpeas in the freezer. That’s something I do often. Every time I soak and sprout chickpeas for cooking, I use twice as much and I keep half. Same effort, same time and I have a handy solution in the kitchen for whenever I need it. Take care when boiling the chickpeas, they must be cooked but not soft and mushy, so they should be ready in about 40 ‘. This is how they are used in cold salads or they can continue cooking in the respective recipe.
The minced meat in this recipe comes from grassfed yearling lambs that are raised grazing freely on the slopes of Epirus in Western Greece. With a richer taste, more iron and increased nutritional value, it is meat that is worth seeking out from producers following traditional farming methods. Gradually add the meat into the hot frying pan, so that you can break it up so that it is well browned, either with a fork or with the wooden spoon. Don’t worry if you see it sticking to the bottom, as soon as it cooks, the pan will release it.
For herbs and spices, you can experiment with what you prefer. This version here is milder, for kids that don’t enjoy very spicy flavors. It is a very flexible recipe that seems to always turn out delicious, hence the variety of different versions. It just needs good quality ingredients to turn out great every time.
- 500 gr. minced grassfed yearling lamb
- 4 cups chickpeas, cooked
- 1 cup (200 ml) broth or cooking liquid from the chickpeas
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsps cumin
- 2 tsps coriander ground
- 2 tsps turmeric
- 1 tsp Chili or paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: 2 tablespoons Parsley or coriander finely chopped
Heat the a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan well over a medium heat. Gradually add the minced meat and brown well while stirring. Add the onion and chickpeas and continue stirring over a high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, all the spices, and season well. Stir for 1 ‘ to integrate. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits stuck to it. Lower over a medium heat and let it reduce for 5’.
Serve with rice or Naan bread, yogurt, a little olive oil and the chopped herbs.
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…
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 always the sausage is fresh (preserved only in the freezer i.e.), handmade, with natural intestine and grassfed minced meat with a little salt and spices.
One way I encourage children to taste more vegetables is by not “hiding” them constantly in sneaky recipes (though that helps too), but to prepare them in large enough pieces, so that they can leave what they do not want on the edge of their plate. I don’t think that forcing someone to taste any type of food is the best basis for developing a good relationship with it. At the same time, I do not remove ingredients from their plate when I’m serving dinner. This way they don’t get upset when they see something they don’t like in their portion, because it looks familiar and they know they can leave it aside without comment. Sometimes though it really works out wonderfully, for example this time they decided to try the eggplant that they’ve avoided all summer.
Back to our “Briam” now. In order for everything to cook evenly and for the flavors to blend together, we will need to our vegetables carefully in order for them to cook through in the same time. So the potatoes will be cut into thin slices, with the help of the mandolin, the peppers and eggplants in bites of 3 cm, the zucchini in slices of 2 cm. And the onions in 1 cm wedges. You can add the sausage whole from the beginning, or get it in halfway through in large pieces, in order to allow its juices is mix in with the vegetables imparting wicked flavor.
- 2 Eggplants
- 1/2 a cup of olive oil
- 6 potatoes, thinly sliced
- 4 peppers
- 4 zucchini
- 2 onions
- 3 ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 sausages, fresh, in large pieces, about 400 gr. in total
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut the eggplants into 3 cm bites, put them in a colander and salt them well. Leave them aside to sweat. Cut the potatoes into 0.5-1 cm thin slices. Put them in a large bowl, add salt and pepper and half the oil and mix well to coat. Pour into a large baking pan and put them in the oven.
Cut the peppers into 3 cm bites and add them to the mixing bowl from the potatoes. Cut the zucchini in half and then into 2 cm slices and add to the bowl. Finally, cut the onions into wedges, leaving the root at the bottom so that they stay together and don’t fall apart. Add the onions to the rest of the vegetables. Rinse the eggplants well and squeeze them to get rid of the liquid. Add them to bowl. Blend the garlic, tomatoes, parsley, remaining oil and the salt and pepper together. Pour the tomato sauce over the vegetables and mix them well. Add them to the baking sheet with the potatoes and let them cook together for 20 minutes.
Once they are half-done, add the sausage pieces. Roast for another 20 minutes until all the vegetables are tender and softened. Leave the baking pan covered with a towel to recover a little and serve with bread and feta cheese.
Of course this is in itself an excellent, vegetarian dish that does not need the sausage to stand out the table. But it does makes the kids happy, so you know how it goes…
This is such a classic Greek summer recipe. Bringing wonderful aromas and nourishment in the same dish, combining the fresh tastes of green beans, lemon and herbs. The best way to prepare green beans is in good company. Casual conversation and plenty of helping hands,…
Potato, rice, pasta… Potato, rice, pasta. And yet there are so many other combinations for meat. It is not a modern tendency not to rely on starches every day. It is the wisdom in all the traditional kitchens that maximizes nourishment at the family table utilizing the vegetables of the season and insisting on variety instead of commercial superfoods.
Here we have a delicious Greek recipe which is also a typical example. By using yarling goat, we broaden the variety of meats in our diet. If it’s pastured, grassfed meat like my suppler’s here, even better. Adding spring peas gives us fresh taste and color, for a nutritious and delicious result. It can be done with beef in which case dinner will be ready in half the time. Just braise the beef for one hour only, before adding with the peas and the tomato as per the recipe below. You can also replace the fresh mint, with dill or parsley.
- 1 kg yearling goat in large cubes
- 2 tbsps ghee or olive oil
- 3 onions, in thin slices
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 600 ml homemade stock, warm
- 500 gr. grated tomato
- 500 gr. fresh peas
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped leaves from 1/2 bunch of mint
Dry the meat thoroughly with a paper towel while warming a large heavy based pot over medium heat. Add the ghee, turn up the heat sauté the meat well on all sides. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add just enough warm stock to almost the meat. Bring to the boil then, lower immediately, cover and allow to simmer very gently for 1.5-2 hours until it the meat has softened. Check from time to time to see if you need to add a little more stock.
Once the meat is cooked and the juices have almost evaporated, add the tomato, salt, pepper and peas. Stir well and let it simmer uncovered for about 20 ‘ until the peas are done and the tomato sauce thickens. It requires a very low heat and regular stirring to ensure that the tomato doesn’t catch at the bottom of the pot. When done, stir through the mint and withdraw from the heat. Let the casserole stand for 5 ‘ and serve.