Domata Me Kopanisti
(Blue Cheese and Tomato Spread)
Makes 6 to 8 servings (about 21/2 cups)
"This delicious spread is made with the local tiny and intensely flavored tomatoes and the sharp kopanisti -- a blue-type spreadable cheese. Neither of these two key ingredients is available outside the island. In the summer, use ripe red tomatoes and bake them to concentrate their flavor. Because the more common blue cheeses lack the pungency of kopanisti, add a few tablespoons of rum or vodka."
From "The Foods of Greek Islands," by Aglaia Kremezi (Houghton Mifflin, 2000):
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1 cup crumbled blue cheese, preferably aged Gorgonzola, at room temperature (about 21/2 ounces)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 11/2 ounces)
1 to 3 tablespoons vodka or white rum (optional)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes shrink to half their original size. Set aside in a colander or sieve to cool and drain completely. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the tomatoes. (The tomatoes can be baked a day in advance and refrigerated.)
Just before serving, place the blue and feta cheeses in a bowl and use a fork to mash them. Mix in the tomatoes. Don't try to make a homogenous paste; it should be somewhat coarse. Add the vodka or rum, if using. Drizzle with oil and stir to mix, but don't try to completely incorporate the oil into the spread. Transfer the spread to a shallow serving bowl, drizzle with more oil, if desired, sprinkle with the mint and serve.
Per serving (based on 8): 152 calories, 4 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrates, 13 gm fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 239 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
(Shrimp Baked in Tomato Sauce With Feta)
4 to 6 servings
"Shrimp saganaki (from the Turkish sahan, meaning 'a large copper dish') is not a traditional recipe. It was probably created in the early 1960s as tourists began to flood the Greek islands. The sauce is scrumptious, so make sure you provide plenty of fresh crusty bread for dipping."
From Kremezi's "The Foods of Greek Islands":
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Aleppa pepper or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
11/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/2 cup finely diced tomato, drained in a colander for 5 minutes
2/3 cup coarsely grated hard feta cheese*
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the pepper or pepper flakes and the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and saute, turning frequently, until they turn pink and begin to curl, 3 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato and salt to taste and cook for 2 minutes more, until the sauce begins to thicken. Transfer to a baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.
Bake for 10 minutes, uncovered, or until the sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
* NOTE: If you leave feta uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, it will dry a bit and harden. The hard cheese can be easily grated.
Per serving: 253 calories, 26 gm protein, 5 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 186 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 409 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
Tzatziki Me Maratho
(Yogurt, Garlic, Cucumber and Fennel Dip)
Makes 6 to 8 servings, about 4 cups
"The cooling taste of yogurt complements the bite of the garlic. In its more common form, this dip is made with only cucumber, but this version includes shredded fennel. Enjoy it with carrot sticks and other raw vegetables or with chips or crackers. From Kremezi's "The Foods of Greek Islands":
1 small cucumber, peeled
2/3 cup finely shredded fennel (1 small or 1/2 large bulb; fronds and tender stalks reserved and chopped if desired)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, or plenty of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups thick sheep's milk yogurt or drained yogurt* (recipe follows)
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel fronds plus tender stalks, or fresh dill
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the cucumber in half and use a teaspoon to remove the seeds. Grate the cucumber then squeeze it, pressing it hard between your hands to extract most of its juices.
In a medium bowl, mix the cucumber with the shredded fennel, garlic, chili or black pepper and yogurt. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped fennel or dill, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and salt to taste and stir well to mix. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper, if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 3 hours before serving. (If the cucumber sits longer, it will release more liquid.)
Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with some oil and sprinkle with the reserved fennel or dill.
* NOTE: Drained yogurt is a good approximation to sheep's milk yogurt, which is sweeter and creamier than cow's milk yogurt. To make drained yogurt, line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. To make 2 cups of drained yogurt, add 31/3 cups (about 32 ounces) plain, whole-milk yogurt to the sieve, cover with plastic wrap and let drain overnight in the fridge.
Per serving (based on 8): 133 calories, 5 gm protein, 10 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 121 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
(Country Tomato Salad)
4 to 6 servings
"The salad tourists find in all Greek tavernas by the name horiatiki ('country or village salad', known in the United States as Greek salad), is a combination of tomatoes with various other things -- from salted sardines to olives -- of which only onion slices and feta are a must. From then on, every cook can improvise.
"Capers are my addition to horiatiki. From then on, I use whatever I can find in the house. But, of course, the tomatoes have to be of the right quality for this salad to be good."
From "The Foods of Greece," by Aglaia Kremezi (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1993):
3 large ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into rings
2 salted sardines, rinsed in running water, dried with paper towels, and cut into 1/3-inch pieces
6 to 10 Kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup diced feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped purslane (optional)
About 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, or to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
1 hard-cooked egg, quartered (optional)
Cut the tomatoes in half and discard the cores. Slice the tomatoes, place in a bowl, and add the capers, onion, pepper, sardines, olives, feta and, if desired, purslane. Sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper and drizzle oil to taste over the top. Toss the salad. If desired, place the egg quarters on top. Serve immediately.
Per serving (based on 6): 112 calories, 6 gm protein, 8 gm carbohydrates, 7 gm fat, 26 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 485 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
Makes 6 to 8 servings, about 2 cups
"I'm not exaggerating by saying that every Greek cook has his or her own version of Melintzanosalata. Prepare it several hours or a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. It tastes better the day after it is made."
From Kremezi's "The Foods of Greece":
3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
1 green bell pepper, roasted and peeled*
1/2 cup olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh chili pepper, or freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Pierce the eggplants with a fork twice near the stem.
There are 3 possible ways to give the eggplant the smoky flavor this recipe requires: If you have a charcoal grill, cook the eggplants over the coals until the flesh is tender. If you have an electric stove, place 3 layers of aluminum foil on a burner set at medium heat. Place the eggplants on the foil and let them cook, turning them frequently, until the skin is crisp all over and the flesh is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Or if you have a gas stove, hold each eggplant with a barbecue fork over the flame or place it on the broiler pan and broil until the skin is crisp, then transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until the flesh is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Peel the eggplants while still hot and discard most of the seeds. Chop the flesh. Finely chop the pepper and mix with the eggplant.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggplant and pepper with a wooden spoon, adding the oil and vinegar a little at a time. Add the garlic, chili pepper and parsley while continuing to beat. Season with salt. Taste, and add more vinegar if needed.
* NOTE: To roast bell peppers, adjust the broiler rack about 5 inches from the source of heat. Broil the peppers, turning them carefully, until the skins blacken and crack, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 10 minutes. The skins will come off easily. Peel the peppers, discarding stems and seeds.
Per serving (based on 8): 157 calories, 1 gm protein, 8 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 62 mg sodium, 3 gm dietary fiber