Eggplant and Squash pie with Peper, Cumin, and Walnuts

This pie is a rif on Melitzanopita tis Dramas (eggplant pie from Drama) a wonderfully complex and delicious pie I learned to make years ago in this northern Greek town, and have published in my first cookbook, The Fooods of Greece.

I though of adding squash and bell pepper to the eggpants as I had no leeks to sweeten and add color to the stuffing. This semi-open colorful pie/tart is the perfect main course for a vegetarian Thanksgiving or for any festive fall and winter meal.   

 

In the original pie of Drama sauteed leeks and eggplants are flavored with plenty of agad graviera cheese, and scented with cumin. Walnuts add a meaty taste to this delicious pie that I have baked on many occasions, both at home and also at various meals I have cooked over the years in the US. I often bake a rolled eggplant pie, as it is easier to cut and serve, especially if one uses commercial frozen phyllo, and not the wonderful home-rolled. 

 

 

Serves 10-12 (more…)

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Broccoli and Pepper Gratin with Yogurt and Feta

We love to eat this vegetarian, olive oil gratin all year round, especially these late fall days using locally grown, deliciously tender and flavorful broccoli, and the last long peppers we gather from the garden.

The tanginess of yogurt accentuated by the crumbled feta beautifully complement the sweetness of the broccoli and the peppers.

 

 

Serves 5-6: 12X9-inch (30X20cm) glass casserole (more…)

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Pan Roasted Vegetables

No recipe needed for this glorious, yet very easy vegetable medley that can be the ideal accompaniment to charcoal-grilled meat or fish, but we mostly love to eat it by itself, with just feta cheese, along with a deeply-flavored, olive-oil-fried egg from our neighbor’s hens and slices of good, crusty whole-wheat bread.

 

 

Cut into chunks a couple of small, longish, tender eggplants, some peeled butternut squash, one or two bell peppers, add a sliced onion and a couple of garlic cloves and douse them all with olive oil; sprinkle with some cumin, ground coriander seeds, oregano or thyme, plenty of Aleppo (or Maras) pepper flakes and of course salt, and bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, tossing once after 30 minutes or so.  

 

 

For my 15×12 inch (37×32 cm) deep pan I used about 1 1/2 pounds squash and more or less the same weight of tender (no seeds) eggplants. (more…)

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Yahnera: Braised Greens and Potatoes with Lemon and Herbs

In Crete, sweet and tart greens–tender pea shoots, sow thistle, wild spinach, sorrel, wild leeks—and if available tender fava pods, sweet peas, or a couple of artichokes bottoms and their peeled stems are all braised together with lots of wild fennel fronds. Freshly squeezed lemon juice gives zest to the stew.

The potatoes taste wonderful as they soak up the aromatic juices.

 

The beautiful juicer created by the potter Lorna Meaden.

 

 

Makes 4 servings (more…)

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Chickpeas with Orange, Lemon and Squash

There are countless variations of slow-cooked chickpeas all over the Mediterranean. Most are vegetarian, like this one, inspired by a dish Stelios Tylirakis prepares in his wood-fired oven at Dounias tavern, high in the mountains above Chania, Crete.

In Crete chickpeas are commonly flavored with bitter (Seville) orange, while in most other islands lemon is used. I think orange peel is a wonderful substitute for the bitter orange, along with some lemon juice. This simple chickpea dish, like the one without squash, should be made with the best quality, preferably organic dried chickpeas, not the canned ones. Their flavor is so much more interesting. 

I add mustard, something I learned from my mother who claimed that it made all pulses more digestible. I’m not sure it does, but it certainly deepens the flavor of the beans and chickpeas.

 

I start describing the long, old fashioned oven-cooked method, and then I add my way of making the dish fast, with pre-cooked, frozen chickpeas without losing its original flavor and texture –by the way I, as most Greeks, like the chickpeas meltingly tender, somewhat mushy, not chewy.

 

I developed this recipe for EATING WELL magazine; part of a piece about the healthy Cooking of Crete (March 2020).

 

 

Serves 6-8 (more…)

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