Zucchini Fritters with Basil and Oregano

A much sought after appetizer served at all Greek taverns today. In the old days it was considered a poor man’s’ keftedes (meatballs), for the people who could not afford to buy meat. The mixture is very similar to the one for the crust-less pie, but needs to be drier, so squeeze more liquid out of the grated zucchini. Similar appetizers are made in the winter with greens (horta).  Spinach, chard or mixed wild greens can be used, and the fritters are called hortokeftedes.

Scroll down for Oven-roasted Patties, a VARIATION I developed for EATING WELL magazine

part of a piece about the healthy Cooking of Crete (March 2020).

 

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Makes 6 to 8 meze servings (more…)

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Cucumber, Purslane, and Mint Salad with Spices on Yogurt

“Coriander, cumin and red-pepper flakes bloom in a neutral oil, and the cucumbers take on the flavors as they sit,” writes Yewande Komolafe in the New York Times Food section, where this recipe is based.

I just omitted the dill and scallions –I didn’t have any in the fridge— and added some purslane, as we have so much succulent sprigs growing all around our garden. The combination of the lightly toasted spices is ingenious!

The salad can easily become a lovely summer lunch, served over warmed pita or with toasted slices of whole wheat bread.

 

 

Serves 4-6 (more…)

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Bulgur Salad with Nuts, Spices, and Tomato Paste Dressing

My recipe is inspired by the Syrian Jewish Bazargan, yet one more wonderful dish introduced to the world by the unsurpassed Claudia Roden in her 1968 classic Book of Middle Eastern Food, that she later updated.  

I am surprised that we don’t find this irresistible bulgur ‘salad’ along with the ubiquitous hummus and the other Mediterranean-inspired prepared foods offered at the counters of the gourmet supermarkets.

Bazargan is traditionally eaten together with other meze; but it is filling and very satisfying, so we often eat it as main course during  our summer lunches, accompanied by a simple tomato or cucumber salad.

 

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Assertively spiced with cumin and seasoned with tangy tamarind, bazargan makes a terrific appetizer especially if you serve it elegantly on lettuce leaves, or on toasted pita bread. Once you’ve tasted it, you will want to keep eating it until every last grain has disappeared…

 

Make sure you listen to the latest long, wonderful interview of the incredible Claudia Roden! She is such an inspiration for all of us!

 

Makes 6-8 servings, 10-12 as appetizer  

 

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Feta on Barley Rusks with Cherry Tomato Relish

Inspired by the traditional Dakos/paximadia Salad from Crete, this is a somewhat different, delicious summer treat, or even an ideal lunch for the hot days. We prepared it with chef Michael Costa during the Greek Dinner we served to the 600+ participants of the 20019 Oxford Symposium, the last one that actually took place in Oxford; it has since moved to Zoom, due to the pandemic…

 

The dressing/relish is versatile and you can also use it over grilled chicken, fish or meat. This bright and fresh dish is ideal for picnics and garden dining.

See also the purslane-tomato relish I had posted earlier. 

 

 

Serves about 20 as a meze and 10-12 as summer lunch

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Lemon-marinated Carrots with Finocchio, Mint, and Arugula

This is a salad even the more avid meat-eaters –like my friend Stathi— will love. I first made it for our joined Easter table, early in May, inspired by a salad we had whipped up some years back with thin slices of butternut squash that I had marinated in lemon, then served with equally thin slices of zucchini. I think I had sprinkled the mixture with crumbled feta, but I don’t remember, really. This carrot salad was a big success, and our friends, in whose house we had the Easter lunch, loved it, saying that the leftover were even better the next day.

 

As I was writing this, I remembered another carrot salad, that one a classic from North Africa: The Tunisian Carrot Salad is also laced with lots of lemon juice, and unexpectedly scented with caraway seeds. Dietician will tell you that lemon makes you absorb all the wonderful nutrients of carrots; but this is an added bonus to the really brilliant combination of sweet and sour, that we, in the Mediterranean, adore!

 

Note the beautiful stoneware ceramic bowl my dear friend Hara Bahariou has created. I am so happy to have many of her exquisite creations in which I serve my dishes; makes such difference at the table!

 

Serves 4-6 (more…)

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