Cabbage Salad in Orange-vinegar Marinade

Cabbage is associated with winter in Greece. “You can’t have tender, sweet cabbage before the winter cold,” a farmer in Kea told me one October morning. The trick to turn almost any cabbage into a good salad is to “knead” the finely shredded leaves with salt and lemon juice. Here, instead of lemon a combination of orange and white ‘balsamic; vinegar is used. The cabbage and carrots wilt and shrink, becoming juicy and delicious.

I tasted this salad recently at Ourania’s Tavern, on Samos island and was fascinated. Ourania, the owner and cook, told us that the longer you leave the salad in the fridge, the better it gets, and she was right.

 

 

4 to 6 servings

 

4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about 1/3 medium cabbage) 

3–4 tablespoons 

freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Salt 3–4 small dill pickles (about 2 inches long), halved 

lengthwise and thinly sliced 

3 medium carrots, peeled and steamed or boiled in salted water until 

tender, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 1 bunch arugula, trimmed and finely chopped 

1/2 cup 

finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 3 sprigs for garnish 

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro 

3 watercress sprigs 

4–5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Pinch of Aleppo pepper or 

crushed red pepper flakes A few Kalamata olivesIn a large bowl, combine the cabbage, 

3 tablespoons 

lemon juice and salt to taste and rub and squeeze the cabbage with your hands until reduced in volume by half. 

(The salad can be prepared up to this point 3 to 4 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.)

 

In a serving bowl, 

combine the cabbage, pickles, all but 2 tablespoons of the carrots, the arugula, parsley, cilantro and watercress. 

Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with pepper and toss. Taste to adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice if 

needed. Garnish with the reserved carrots, the parsley sprigs and olives and serve.

 

 

 

 

Share

Read More

Pasta with Purslane and Tomato

This easy, fresh, and utterly delicious summer dish is based on a Cypriot recipe my friend Marilena Ioannides cooked on Facebook Live during one of her brilliant weekly presentations.

Even if you don’t speak Greek you can easily follow her cooking method, which in that case is extremely simple.

Marilena uses scallions but I prefer to flavor the tangy purslane and tomatoes with garlic. Also I substituted basil for the mint, as we have plenty in the garden. Note that contrary to Italy, the traditional herb used in Cyprus, as well as in Greece is mint, not basil.

But of course you can choose either, depending on your taste, and whatever you have in your garden…

 

We ate purslane in the summer, since I was a child, as it is one of the very few greens we have this very dry season in our part of the world. Lately it has become much sought-after for its health benefits. Yet, as I will never cease to repeat, my choice of ingredients and way of cooking is always based on what I learned from my mother and grandmother, as well as from friends who recorded old regional dishes of our area. I choose seasonal produce and combine them simply, to create wonderful, fresh flavors; whatever health benefits they have is an extra bonus!

 

Serves 4

(more…)

Share

Read More

Ginger-Grape Molasses Cookies

My take on the classic Ginger Snap Cookies, based on the recipe of King Arthur Baking.

I reduced the amount of sugar in the mix since the topping makes them far too sweet, anyway. Also I choose to make them with olive oil, instead of any ‘shortening,’ and of course I use grated fresh ginger that gives them a lovely, fragrant kick.

As for the ‘molasses’ mentioned, the only kind we have here is Grape Molasses, which have a wonderfully deep flavor. In Greece the traditional Moustokouloura (grape molasses cookies) are vegan –no egg– as they are a favorite Lenten treat. But frankly, these gingery ones are far better-tasting and easier (!)

 

 

As for the ‘molasses’ mentioned, the only kind we have here is Grape Molasses, which has a wonderfully deep flavor. In Greece the traditional Moustokouloura (grape molasses cookies) are vegan –no egg– as they are a favorite Lenten treat. But frankly, these gingery ones are far better-tasting and easier (!)

 

 

 For about 3 dozen cookies (more…)

Share

Read More

Old-fashioned, Homemade Drinks

Long before shrubs became fashionable again, they used to be ancient Greeks’ favorite refreshments, called oxymeli (vinegar-honey syrup).

Equally almond milk, before becoming the favorite commercial dairy substitute, homemade milk from almonds and almond syrup, as well as the magnificent almond liqueur –called Crema alla Mandorla— were favorite Sicilian, and southern Italian drinks.

 

From my 1994, out of print book Mediterranean Pantry, with photos by the brilliant Martin Brigdale

(more…)

Share

Read More

Giant Bean and Green Olive Salad

I first made this with a few leftover, homemade cracked green olives from the batch my friend Yiannis Tsivourakis had sent me from Hania, Crete. They were cured in a wonderful lemony brine, part of which I used in the beans’ dressing.

When I made the salad again I wanted to imitate this brine, but also somehow incorporate into the beans the flavor of the traditional lemon-coriander green olives from Cyprus, which I love. I was in luck, as I found the perfect rendition of these exquisite olives described in Dimitra’s blog.  She write that she is “a Greek Cypriot girl born and raised in London,’ and in her blog posts lots of traditional Cypriot dishes, but also foods from all over the world, things she cooks at home for her family. 

I suggest you dress and make lots of Dimitra’s wonderful green olives –not just the ones you need for the bean salad. I am sure you will enjoy nibbling on them with some good, crusty bread, anytime of the day… 

 

 

Serves 4-6 as part of a meze spread (more…)

Share

Read More