This minestrone is a more wintery version of the popular soup with pumpkin and mushrooms However, I suspect minestrone soup can have as many variations as the combinations of vegetables and meats that can be found in a refrigerator. It’s a soup that reminds me …
Osobuko, the perfect cut of beef for a no-fuss, delicious Sunday dinner. Minimal effort is required as it only needs time, care and quality ingredients. I have used a free-range beef shank, cut into slices of about 4 cm. This thickness allows it to keep …
Although “gemista” (stuffed oven-baked vegetables) are served in every Greek house during the summer, with infinite variations, stuffed casserole peppers can be made all year round. The only difference is that in winter I prefer to fill long red sweet Florina peppers, while in summer I use classic bell peppers or, even better if you can find them, sweet dolma peppers, which are small and thin skinned, ideal for stuffing as their Turkish name suggests.
I first tried these peppers made by my mother-in-law, who in turn learned this recipe from her own mother-in-law when she moved to Athens from Turkey. Stuffed peppers cook much faster on the stovetop and turn out juicy, shiny and silky. The secret of this dish’s success is to allow the bottom of the pepper to caramelize, leading to a dark, sticky, spicy sauce, without allowing it to burn of course. To achieve this, requires patience: once the rice is done and the water in the pot has all but evaporated, allow the peppers gently simmer in the oil and juices left for 5-6 minutes over a low heat.
This recipe makes a large quantity, to be cooked in two pots and shared over Sunday lunch. I actually squeeze them all into a large oblong casserole dish I have and rarely split them in two. You can do half the amount if you are only cooking for a few people, but you’ll probably regret not having the leftovers. Besides, peppers are the easiest and fastest vegetable to stuff. You could also add firm tomatoes, but the truth is that I prefer these in the oven. I wash the rice and soak it from the night before. If I forget, it’s no big deal as the taste will turn out the same. However, it’s a good habit to adopt, as soaking eliminate most of the arsenic contained in rice.
You can serve the peppers lukewarm with feta cheese and olives or even cold, as an appetizer. We also eat them as a side, as a snack, if we ever had any left the next day, we would probably eat them for breakfast.
Stuffed casserole peppers – Recipe
1 glass of short grain rice, washed and soaked
4 onions, minced
4 tomatoes, minced
2/3 glass olive oil
60 Gr. raisins
3 tbsp min leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp allspice, ground
Juice from 1 lemon
Half a glass of water, hot
In a large frying pan, gently sauté the onion over low heat with half the oil and a pinch of salt. Stir regularly and simmer until it becomes a paste, about 10 minutes. During this time, cut the lids off the peppers and remove any seeds and white membranes. Once the onion is cooked, add the rice and stir. Let it soften for another 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, raisins, mint, allspice and lemon in a bowl. Add the onion and rice to the bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Fill your peppers with a tablespoon, one by one and place them in the pot. Just fill to the brim without pushing down on the stuffing and cover with the lid. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over them, add the hot water, cover and let them cook and soften over medium heat. In about 20-25 minutes, the rice will be done and the peppers will have softened. Remove the lid and simmer to allow the water to evaporate. Once there is only oil and cooking juices left at the bottom of the pan, let them caramelize over a very low heat. As soon as the sauce turns brown, remove from the heat immediately so that it doesn’t burn and turn bitter. Serve the peppers lukewarm or cold.
This skillet calamari with zucchini is incredibly fast, flavorful and nutritious. If the calamari is cleaned, it takes only 10 minutes to prepare, it needs very little cooking over a very high heat. My cast iron pan is ideal for this and I am so …
This braised beef with zucchini (or courgettes if you prefer) is a classic Greek summer dish. By early summer, the farmers’ market stalls are filled with bright green zucchini and sun blushed tomatoes, perfect for this delicious casserole. As my grandmother used to make it, …
This pea soup is fast, delicious, nutritious and is made with minimal effort and prep. We all have days when we just don’t feel like cooking, but still want something healthy, tasty and good value with household staples.
I’ve used frozen fine peas here. If you happen to have fresh ones, podding them is a fun chore for the kids. If you’d like to check out some more pea recipes, you can find them here. You can also add a leek along with the onion to the soup to enrich it with more vegetables. If you don’t have a potato, a handful of split peas will help the soup thicken. Broth also helps with this. I almost always use homemade bone broth. In addition the taste, it helps add “body” to all sauces and stews.
I usually serve this soup with some good quality ham. What I always have in the freezer is artisan bacon with no preservatives and additives from here. Sometimes I use leftover Easter (or Christmas) ham, or traditional Greek “apaki” ham from Crete. You just slice it and pass it through the pan for a couple of minutes.
You can also serve this soup cold. In that case, you can add a couple of tablespoonfuls of chopped mint when blending the soup, then chill it for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
1 tbsp ghee or preferred cooking oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups cauliflower or 1 potato, roughly chopped
1 liter homemade bone broth
500 gr. petit pois peas, frozen or fresh and podded
To serve: 250 g of any cold cuts you prefer and a little yogurt, or coconut milk (canned)
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Sauté the onion until soft, without changing colour. Turn up the heat and add the potato, broth and peas. Cover and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat again and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables soften. In the meantime, prepare the ham, sautéing it, finely sliced in a frying pan. Once the soup is done, liquidize in batches in the blender or straight in the pot using a hand blender. Serve with the ham in the middle of the dish and a couple of tablespoons of cream around it.
Now that you’ve learnt how to make your own no-knead bread and may even have tried the olive bread with herbs, it might be time to change it up a little with this dutch oven variation for turmeric bread with seeds, a bright yellow crumb …
Winter cabbages are so sweet and tasty, especially when braising gives the such a silky taste. Stuffed cabbage leaves may very well be my winter favorite, but we’ll leave those for another day. In this recipe we are looking a a very easy, fast, midweek, …
Kapama is a traditional way of braising in Greece, by placing a pot on top of a baking tray. I first tasted cauliflower kapama made the traditional way at my Aunt Sophia’s. This is an everyday, simple dish, usually served during the period of Lent before Christmas. So she was quite surprised at my enthusiasm for such a simple dish.
This recipeis a slightly dressed up version, keeping with the original flavors, but preparing the cauliflower whole as seems to be the fashion these days. This way, the upgraded version makes a nice centerpiece for out vegetarian friends or for dinners during Lent. It’s also more attractive to the kids, who are very interested in cutting wedges of the red cauliflower to reveal a white heart.
Aside from a nice, round, medium sized cauliflower, you will need a large flameproof casserole pot, suitable for both the oven and the stove. I tend to use my dutch oven for this. Do check the the cauliflower fits the pot, before you start. Ask me how I know…
By braising in the oven and then in the steam of the sauce, we get a beautifully cooked cauliflower, both tender and holding its shape with a bite to it.
1 medium cauliflower
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
70 ml vinegar
500 gr tomato, grated
3 allspice berries
salt and pepper
Optional: kalamata olives and chopped parsley for serving
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove any wilted leaves from the cauliflower and submerge in water with vinegar to get rid of any previous occupants. Rince and dry. Cut of the end of the stem, so that it sits well. Using a paring knife core the base of the stem. Coat with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and roast in the oven for 15′.
In the meantime heat a large pot on a medium heat. Add the remaining oil, onions and a little salt and cook for about 5′, until soft. Add the garlic, stir and add the tomato paste and all spice. Cook stirring for 30″ then add the vinegar. Allow to reduce for 2′, then add the tomato and season. Brind to a mediume boil for 5′.
At this stage the cauliflower should be ready. Transfer to the pot carefully and baste with the tomato sauce. Cover and put in the oven for 30′. Check half way through cooking time and add a little water to loosen the sauce if needed.
Once it’s done, transfer to a large serving plate spooning over the sauce. Serve with the olives, parsley and a little olive oil.
Sofigado is a traditional recipe from the Ioanian island of Lefkada made with yearling goat or lamb. Modern versions include beef, but the strong deep-flavored sweet and sour sauce really complements darker red meats. As potatoes used to be scarce towards the end of autumn, …