Salad of Beets and Beet Greens with Walnuts and Mint

I was inspired to re-create the salad often served at Fabrika tou Efrosynou, our favorite Athens tavern, in Koukaki. Sliced apples are mixed in the tavern’s salad, and the beets used are usually very small and tender. But since it isn’t easy to find this kind of beets unless you grow your own, I have adapted the salad for the more common large beets, omitting the apples.

Traditionally we boil the beets in water until tender, cooking the greens and stems separately, before assembling them in a salad, which is often complemented with Skordalia (garlic sauce).

 

 

Serves 6-8 (more…)

Share

Read More

Green, Winter Salad, and the Flowery, Spring Version

Greek Salad is seasonal here; in the summer tomatoes are its base, but in the winter the salad is definitely green.

The green salad I describe is inspired from the traditional Lesbos winter salad as I adapted it from the recipe in my book The Foods of the Greek Islands.  

In the spring, though, we often add all kinds of edible wild flowers to the basic mix, plus any fragrant sprigs and leaves we find in the garden (scroll down for the VARIATION).

 

 

From the first October rains up until the end of April, the greengrocers of Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, used to sell each head of romaine lettuce tied together with two or three sprigs of borage (often with its little blue flowers), two or three scallions, several sprigs of peppery arugula, four or five sprigs of dill or fennel fronds, a few sprigs of peppery wild cress and either fresh mint or a little wild celery. Once home, these essential ingredients for the local green winter salad are thinly sliced and tossed with a simple vinaigrette.

 

For the spring version we often create “a multisensory food experience,” as Mind Body Green proposes. “When flavor, texture, appearance, fragrance, and beauty come together on your plate—the result is sheer culinary delight.” 

About the very common, slightly bitter dandelion blossoms —Taraxacum officinale — we read that “the golden blossoms are nutritious edible flowers beloved by herbalists, gourmets, and culinary devotees alike. Their bioactive chemical compounds have been touted for diuretic, liver-supporting, and anti-inflammatory benefits, among others. Some research has even found the dandelion plant may increase Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two valuable types of probiotics associated with gut health, ” the article point out.

 

WORD of CAUTION: Not all flowers are edible; unless you are sure what exactly you are foraging, be careful because many flowers may be toxic! 

 

Makes 4 servings (more…)

Share

Read More

Cauliflower stories

I remember the huge cauliflowers –white and purple— as well as the oversized cabbages we used to get in the old days. Now the large cauliflowers have almost completely disappeared, although we occasionally find some here, on Kea, grown from heirloom seeds.

 

In Greece we traditionally boil cauliflower and broccoli in plenty of water, but the small tender ones we get today taste better steamed, I think. This saves us from the terrible stink that was pestering our kitchen in the winter whenever my mother boiled cauliflower to make father’s favorite salad. (more…)

Share

Read More

Cauliflower Salad with Rosemary-scented Vinaigrette

I often make this  salad buying two small cauliflowers and using the stems from both, plus a few florets to make my Cauliflower gratin. I steam most of the tender florets and serve them dressed with my fragrant rosemary-scented vinaigrette. In Greece traditionally we used to boil cauliflower and broccoli in plenty of water –the old-fashioned large ones needed considerably more cooking– but these small tender ones taste better steamed, I think.  

 

 

Serves 3-4 (more…)

Share

Read More

Green Black-eyed Pea Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

Blanched ambelofasoula (green black-eyed peas) are the most sought-after and expensive summer salad in Greece and usually accompanies grilled or fried fish. The word ‘ambelofasoula’ means ‘vineyard beans’ and it is only used for the green black-eyed peas; maybe the prolific plants were planted close to the vines in the old days. 

 

Green-Blac-eyed-Pea-Salad_430

The dressing is inspired by a recipe I got from the island of Kythera, where it was used on vlita(blanched amaranth shoots). It is a wonderful dressing for blanched broccoli, cauliflower or any kind of blanched greens.

 

Serves 3-4 (more…)

Share

Read More