Tag Archives: greek

Falafel Burgers

I always feel the need to pat myself on the back when I make a “fake-out” meal. You know what I mean – these are all over Pinterest – meals that substitute super foods, grains, veggies where normally high-fat meats or empty carbs once were. It’s one thing to put applesauce in your cake recipe and another to create a satisfying meal that doesn’t make you miss your high fat/empty carb ways. Not that I have anything against those things, obviously…

I’m talking about a chickpea burger. I never order the veggie burgers in restaurants, but in college I went on a Bocca burger kick and quite liked them. So here I am, not in college, not eating a frozen veggie burger every night, but still wanting something healthy-burgeresque.

A recipe in my Fine Cooking magazine looked tasty – more like a grilled falafel instead of a fried falafel. So I made it one night and just loved it – also great as leftovers taken to work.

The only thing I would change is to make a cold creamy tzaziki sauce instead of the tahini sauce, which I found to clash with the burgers. We ended up not using the tahini sauce and instead adding some sour cream on top of our burgers, which was nice and cold, mixing well with the hot burgers and hot sauce shaken over the top.

Falafel Burgers

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1/4 c. EVOO
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 Pita pockets
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 T tahini, divided
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cucumber, seeded, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Heat oil, garlic and cumin in small saucepan until garlic is soft, about 3 min. Set aside.

Tear up 2 pitas and toast until lightly browned. Grind in food processor until fine crumbs form. Dump out and set aside.

In food processor, puree 1 can garbanzo beans and oil mixture, 2 T tahini, 1 T lemon juice, egg and 3/4 tsp salt until smooth. Add remaining garbanzo beans and pita crumbs, parsley and cilantro. Pulse until beans are coarsely chopped and mixture is well blended. Shape into patties and grill, covered, until heated through (this can be done in frying pan, too), 2-3 min. per side. I used a stove top grill pan.

Put remaining tahini in small bowl and whisk in 2 T water and 3 T lemon juice – it will thicken before it thins. This will be your sauce, should you want it.

To serve, heat pita halves until soft and fill with burgers, tomato and cucumber. Add tahini sauce and hot sauce to taste.

Do you like my fancy tahini swish I presented? Basically a food stylist, y’all.

Yum – the burgers are warm, the cumin is warm, the garlic and Texas Pete’s are hot, the tomatoes are cold and the cucumbers are crunchy. A nice combination – I’d like to call this a whole meal in a pocket. Maybe serve with a couscous or tabbouleh salad – or not!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Pasta

Experimenting with sweet spices is an interesting way to stretch your culinary repertoire into more exotic places. For instance, would I ever have thought of adding 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to a pasta dish? Of course not – but luckily, I subscribe to The Splendid Table’s newsletter, and this one happened along.

I changed the recipe up a bit – most notably with the pasta. I couldn’t find hollow pasta at my regular grocery store and I’m so over dealing with Whole Foods and it’s crowded parking lots and aisles. So I made due with linguine. I also didn’t break my pasta off into pieces, like pasta-roni. Instead, I left it long, so I could curl it around my fork. It’s one of my favorite things about pasta – the fork-twirling.

This truly is one of those hearty all-in-one meals – you have your vegetables, meat (chopped rotisserie chicken) and pasta all in one. The tomato sauce is spicy and enhanced with white wine and that warmth that comes from ground cinnamon. I also sprinkled feta cheese over mine, which added a nice, cold flavor contrast (but you won’t see the cheese in any of the pictures).

Very good, if you can get past the weirdness of all that cinnamon.

Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Pasta

Ingredients:

  • Good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 tighty-packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste (put your leftover in ice cube trays to freeze and use next time – that’s what I do!)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 c. diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups diced cooked chicken (good way to use leftover chicken; optional)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese (or goat cheese)

Bring the salted water to a boil and while that works, work on the following:

Generously fill the bottom of a 12-inch sauté pan with olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, parsley, and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper. Sauté the onions to golden brown. Then stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, sugar, and pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to medium and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, raise the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce for 8 minutes, or until thick. Taste for seasoning, remove the pan from the heat, and if using the chicken, stir it in.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water. Boil, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still has a little bite. As the pasta cooks, reheat the sauce over medium-high heat. Once the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and add it to the sauce. Toss over the heat for a minute or more to help the sauce permeate the noodles.

To serve, pile pasta on plates with generous spoonfuls of the chicken and tomato mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese (not pictured below).

As an end to this post, here is a picture of our little bonsai tree. I can’t remember who gave it to us, but soon this baby appeared on it. I think the baby came from a Mardi Gras King’s Cake. We keep them on the kitchen window. Grant moves him around the plant as if he wants a different view every now and then…

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Lemon-Oregano Roast Chicken

As many of you know, Grant and I are sharing a CSA this year from Shore Farm Organics. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture – basically, you sign up to receive a box of farm-fresh produce every week from the farmers’ market.

Every Tuesday, I visit the cobblestone market downtown and pick up my package, overflowing with tender fennel fronds, crisp lettuces, fresh herbs and an assortment of other items: chard, beets, squash, cucumbers, cauliflower, etc. The assortment is different each week, which is why we love it!

Recently, we got a lot of fresh oregano, rosemary and basil. I had no idea what I’d do with all that oregano until I considered a Greek-inspired roasted chicken, with a lemon-oregano compound butter rubbed all over the bird.

And so this meal was born, adapted from my traditional roast chicken recipe. The lemon and herbs combo permeates all of the chicken meat, providing you with days of yummy leftovers.

Lemon-Oregano Roast chicken

Ingredients:

  • One 3-4 lb. chicken, giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • S&P
  • Paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix softened butter with lemon zest, pinch of S&P and 1 T chopped fresh oregano. Set aside.

Place chicken on roasting rack set in roasting pan. Stuff it with remaining oregano, zested lemon sliced in half, garlic and rosemary. Rub most of the butter mixture under the skin, then rub the remaining over the outside of the chicken skin, just to coast. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Tuck the wings under the body and tie the legs together with kitchen twine (optional).

Place chicken in oven and roast for 1:15 to 1:30 hours. When you pierce between the leg and thigh, the juices should run clear. When done, remove from oven and let rest 20 min. That will give you enough time to prepare a salad, toast up some bread or make your favorite Greek-inspired couscous (as I did).

I set my bird on a tray with more fresh herbs, just to be pretty. The smell, the sight and the taste of the chicken was all perfect – proving that roast chicken is good at any time of year!

Enjoy your next chicken dinner, friends! xoxo

Greek Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken

Good lord I love couscous. Perhaps as much as I love its long-legged cousin, pasta. A simple vehicle for great flavors and seasonings. My friend Krissy recently transformed couscous into a delicious Greek-inspired salad that I have since made twice and call it my favorite fresh hot-weather meal. Because when it’s in the 90s, with 90% humidity, you just want something that can be served chilled. With a tall glass of iced tea or white wine.

Nothing satisfies more than crisp cucumber, juicy tomato, sweet basil, crumbly feta and the crunch of spring onions.

I found these cool purple spring onions at the farmers’ market, and they tasted a bit sharper than a shallot, but the greens were like scallions.

Really, any onion will do. Krissy made hers with store-bought rotisserie chicken, which is wonderful. I, however, was feeling cheap, so I roasted my own chicken.

Please see this recipe as just a loose representation of something I created adding a bit of this and a splash of that. Go on, do the same!

Greek Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 2 or 3 split chicken breasts, with skin (you’ll have leftovers, so just roast all of it)
  • EVOO
  • Kosher salt, pepper
  • Cooked couscous (made using 1 c. uncooked couscous, but made with chicken stock instead of water – follow package instructions)
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 small cucumber or half large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/3 c. sliced red onion, shallot or spring onions
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. EVOO, whisked with 4 T fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons) and pinch S&P.

Preheat oven to 425 and line baking sheet with foil. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until skins are crispy and chicken is just cooked through, roughly 30 min (gah! I didn’t pay attention to the time! I just waited until I could smell it and the skin was golden, then I took it out and sliced into a thick portion, revealing clear juices and tender meat. Perfect!).

Meanwhile, prep all your veggies and cook the couscous. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, basil and feta to a medium bowl. Pour vinaigrette over and set aside.

When couscous has cooled to room temperature, add it to the vegetable mixture and toss to incorporate (hot couscous will melt the feta).

When chicken is done, allow to cool 15-20 min., then slice away from bone and into chunks. To serve, spoon couscous salad onto plates, then top with chicken. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, few cracks of pepper and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt.

This is so delicious. All the different textures scream SUMMER! We ate ours outside on the newly beautified front patio, just before the hot winds blew in a thunder storm.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Mediterranean Night

It was a night punctuated by feta, yogurt and ouzo shots. Our monthly supper club fell on Grant and me this time, for which we hosted a Mediterranean theme that included lamb kebabs, couscous salad, curried hummus, spanikopita, Greek salad, tabouleh salad and Greek-yogurt cheesecake with ouzo-soaked figs.

The evening began in the back garden, where we enjoyed cocktails and Megan/Raf’s spicy curried hummus with toasted pita chips. It was amazing and I need the recipe immediately.

We also nibbled on Theresa’s spanikopita. Ouzo shots happened for those who dared.

Dinner brought us inside for a trio of fresh salads…my couscous consisted of the little pearls simply tossed with lemon juice, EVOO, S&P, cucumber, basil, tomatoes, shallots and feta cheese.

Main dish was our lamb kebabs (marinated overnight with yogurt, juice and zest of 2 lemons, 1/4 c. EVOO, garlic, rosemary, S&P), grilled over all-wood charcoal.

After eating and drinking way too much, we moved on to dessert: Seton’s lovely Greek yogurt cheesecake with a melba-toast crust and an ouzo-fig sauce spooned on top.

The cheesecake was spicy from the cinnamon and the fig/ouzo combo was wonderful on top.

The dinner made me excited for the annual Greek festival held in Winston-Salem, where we all can drool over souvlaki and dark-headed lookers.

Enjoy your next dinner party, friends! xoxo

Spanikopita

Every year after Thanksgiving, I find myself craving something as far from roasted bird as possible. These are the times for Thai takeout, sushi eaten curled up on the couch and breakfast-for-dinner.

A nice meal my Greek-looking friend and I recently enjoyed would be perfect for such times. Ina Garten’s take on that classic Greek dish: spanikopita.

Ina creates a robustly flavored filling of spinach, toasted pine nuts, onion, scallions, Parmesan, nutmeg and cubes of feta cheese that becomes sealed in a packet of buttery phyllo dough that flakes off as you bite into it.

Working with phyllo is always aggravating, and this time was no different. Next time, I will make fully sure that my dough it completely thawed before working with it – lest it break off into a million shards.

We used less than half the recipe, freezing the rest for another time. We made six spanikopitas, which we served with Grant’s classic cucumber/tomato/onion salad like his Southern mama used to make.

Spanikopita

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups small-diced feta cheese (12 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 24 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the scallions, and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.

When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the feta and pine nuts.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the dough lightly with butter and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs. Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush it with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (Use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of phyllo don’t stick together.) Pile 4 layers total on top of each other this way, brushing each with butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs. Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed. Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used. Place on a sheet pan, seam sides down. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked salt, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp. Serve hot.

This was so delicious that I instantly burned my tongue so bad that I had to suck on ice for the next 15 minutes. But it was WORTH IT!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo