I’ll never cease to be amazed by the incredible wealth of traditional kitchens and their ability to create hearty and delicious dishes out of almost nothing. The ingredients of this dish are simple and economical, but with a little artistry from the cook, they also …
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 …
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 happy it’s becoming popular in Greece again.
Considering their drawbacks first, cast iron skillets are, there’s a learning curve to using one and if it’s not enameled, you need to remove acidic foods from them as soon as they’re ready because they might get a somewhat metallic taste if left in the pan for too long. That’s it, no more negatives. On the plus side, they are quite economical both because the initial cost of acquiring one is reasonable but also, above all, because they’re virtually indestructible and safe to use. If your grandparents happen to have one lying around because they’re too heavy for them to use, ask if you can take it off their hands and put it to good use, even its got traces of rust. With a good scrub and seasoning, it will be like new.
With regular use it becomes almost non-stick, with the added advantage of being able to safely heat it to a high temperature, while the (most) non-stick pans have restrictions and are not supposed to exceed a certain temperature. Water is the cast iron skillet’s enemy, so you have to dry it thoroughly. After washing it with the help of a brush, I usually heat it a little on the stove to dry completely, then coat it oil and let it cool. That’s it. See here for its care.
Back to our recipe now, it’s very fast to make and you can serve it as is. If you’d like to stretch out any leftovers, you can serve them over with rice or even cauliflower rice. It’s a great summer recipe when you want to spend more time outside and zucchini is in season. If you want more zucchini ideas, see here. If the squid is small, you don’t have to cut it at all. Otherwise you cut each one in half for large bites, bearing in mind that they will shrink quite a bit in cooking. Here are more seafood ideas. If you use a cast iron pan, it’ll stay warm after you turn off the heat, so make sure you serve right away.
Cut the zucchini in four lengthwise and then into slices. Clean and wash the squid. Then leave to drain in a colander. Heat the skillet to very hot. While it’s heating, cut the squid into large bites if necessary and put the tentacles aside.
Once the pan is hot, add the oil and calamari in two batches and cook, stirring for just 2 minutes and set aside. Then cook the tentacles for 1′ and set aside along with the rest of the calamari.
Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté until soft without color and add the garlic and spices. Stir well and add the zucchini. Sauté for 5 minutes until cooked while retaining its bite. Then add the calamari to warm through along with the lemon juice. Stir well, correct the salt and pepper and serve the calamari immediately, sprinkled with the zest.
Salt cod with chickpeas is also made in the island of Crete , however, we will be making Bacalao con Garbanzos, a version of the traditional Spanish recipe. This is a healthy, colorful, aromatic dish packed with nutriens from the vegetables, pulses and fish. It …
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.
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 …
I have been meeting the most wonderful people from all over the world at the Onion Athens‘ cooking workshops over the past few months. I adore sharing traditional Greek recipes just as much as learning participants favorites too. Just last week Garry and Cindy mentioned how they would love to try out some seafood recipes while staying in Athens and that gave me the push I needed to finally share this wonderful recipe for tender, slow cooked octopus and pasta.
Traditionally all octopus needs is to be left to slowly simmer in an empty pot for about an hour to release it’s aromatic, flavorful juices. Resist the urge to add water as it will turn hard and chewy. Just leave it on it’s own as there is no chance of it burning at a low temperature. the combination of the rich flavor with short cut pasta, traditionally called “kofto” (κοφτό) makes it a favorite with children too. Mine love it, which is very fortunate as it also very rich in iron and B12. If fresh octopus is not available, frozen will be fine. Some Greeks will even freeze it as they swear it tenderizes it a bit more.
1 octopus, approx. 1,5 kilos, beak and and eyes removed
1/2 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper
350 gr. pasta, ditali or “kofto”
Put the whole octopus in a pot, cover and set over a low heat to braise for about 1 hour until soft. Boil the pasta in salted water for half the recommended cooking time and drain. Wash out the pasta pot, dry it and set it over a medium heat. Add the oil then gently cook the onions for 5′. Add the garlic, allspice, bay leaves and cinnamon. Rub the tomato paste into the oil with a wooden spoon, then add the stewing liquid from the octopus. Chop the octopus into bite sized pieces while bringing the sauce to the boil. Add the pasta and octopus pieces. Season, stir well and simmer gently for 5′-10′ until the pasta is cooked through. Keep some hot water at hand to add little by little, if needed, for the pasta to cook completely.
A delicious and filling meze made from almost nothing: flour, oil, onion, tomato and herbs. It seems to symbolise all the simple beauty of the Cycladic islands. A traditional flatbread made in the tiny island of Kimolos with plenty of olive oil, to which it …