Vegetarian Beet Borscht

This is the meat-less version of the famous Russian and Eastern European hearty, winter beet soup, which David Tanis brilliantly changed, creating a refreshing summer treat.

I slightly adapted Tanis’ recipe, basically omitting the celery, because Costas is not fond of it. Kale is not available here, but the beets come with their greens which I used; you can alternatively add chard, kale, or any other green you like.

I simply top the wonderful soup with thick strained yogurt instead of the cream and freshly grated horseradish, which would be fantastic, if only we could get it on Kea!

 

In his introduction to the recipe, David Tanis talks about “…the long-gone resorts of the Catskills, in the so-called Jewish Alps. During their heyday, in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, these summer resorts hosted generations of Jewish Americans, at a time when virulent anti-Semitism prevented their admittance to non-Jewish resorts. Families would spend the whole summer in these mountains enclaves to escape the sweltering city. There were daily activities and nightly entertainment. Comedians who worked the circuit called it the Borscht Belt. And quite a lot of cold borscht was served in that era before air-conditioning.”

 

Serves 6 (more…)

Share

Read More

HORTA, the Edible Wild Greens

We keep an overused, slightly rusted, wood-handled Opinel knife in the glove compartment of our car. It is there because we never know if and when we will spot some gorgeous edible greens during our rides around the island. Greeks probably foraged for horta —wild leafy greens— because they had little else to eat. We continue to gather and eat them today because we love them.

 

Watch the Video-Slideshow of the most important Edible Greens we forage, and more… 

 

 

During the rainy winter months, and as late as early spring, there are plenty of wild greens in the hills and mountains that surround the villages and the big cities. Middle-aged women and men gather them on special excursions. Armed with a knife and a plastic bag or a basket, the horta-gatherers can be spotted from a distance on a steep hill, but also next to a busy highway. A friend once told me that he has seen Greek-Americans gather greens on a sidewalk in New Jersey. These days, though, most city people buy horta from the weekly farmers’s markets; and they have become quite expensive, a real delicacy. (more…)

Share

Read More

Risotto with Greens, Herbs, Garlic, and Lemon

I fondly remember a light and delicious herb-lime risotto I enjoyed one sunny September day some years ago.  I was at La Fenière, the celebrated hotel and restaurant in Loumarin, Provence, and this was one of the dishes chef Reine Sammut’s offered in her Mediterranean olive oil tasting lunch. She served the risotto topped with thin strips of braised cuttlefish, drizzled with a few drops of its deep black ink sauce. The seafood was excellent, but the fragrant, fruity rice was the real revelation to me.

 

Adapted from my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

 

 

I didn’t get Sammut’s recipe, just a description, so this is my own rendition of the dish: a simple greens, garlic, herb, and lime risotto that I make often, using any leafy winter or spring greens, and all or some of the herbs on the list, whatever my garden provides. When I don’t have fresh herbs I use the ones I often freeze; unfortunately even good dried herbs will not give the same rich result.

I conclude by folding-in grated Parmesan, which brings out the flavors of the herbs, and very often top the risotto with a 7-minute cooked egg; the deeply-flavored ones from our neighbor’s hens.

You can also serve along with Baked or roasted Fish, or complement the risotto with grilled Halloumi.

 

Serves 4-6 as main course; 6-8 as a side dish

(more…)

Share

Read More

Greens, again…

Porihia or Vrouves —the fresh shoots of wild mustard— are the horta (wild greens) we most love here on Kea! 

Their flavor is strong and somewhat bitter, much like the Italian cime di rapa or brocoletti. I am very proud of the bunch I gathered during our morning excursion up, in the mountainous Kato Meria. Feels like spring but we are told that more cold, wind, and maybe snow is coming…

With the bunch of porihia –wild mustard shoots– I gathered, instead of just boiling them as salad I made a fast, one-pot-pasta substituting greens and garlic for the tomatoes etc. of the original recipe. I could include anchovies, but I decided not to, this time. We didn’t miss them. 

I sauteed four garlic cloves in olive oil, added the greens, and some white wine, then about two cups boiling water, and half a packet of pasta. I cooked them stirring often, for about 9 min. Served the green’s pasta drizzled with fresh lemon juice, and more fruity olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and a handful of chopped fennel. We loved it!

See more recipes with greens, and the original One-Pot Pasta 

Braised Greens with potatoes

Lamb or Pork braised with Greens

Hortopsomo: Crust-less pie with Greens and Herbs

Share

Read More

Beets and Greens with Skordalia (garlic sauce)

This garlic-scented combination of beets and greens, or green beans is served on many islands during the spring Lent, before Easter and all-through the summer. On other occasions, you will find it accompanying fried salt cod, fried anchovies or other humble fish. The skordalia (garlic sauce) in this particular version can be quite mild and creamy, like garlicky mashed potatoes, or more pungent, to your taste.

See also the unusual Pelion skordalia with unripe grapes or verjuice.

 

beets_greens_salad_small

Serve the salad as a first course or as a side dish with grilled or fried fish.

Adapted from The Foods of the Greek Islands (Houghton Mifflin)

 

 

Makes 4-6 servings

 

(more…)

Share

Read More