Fassoláda: the Traditional Bean soup, Revisited

The epitome of comforting, winter meal for Greeks, fassoláda is warming and filling. Prepared with the excellent ingredients from northern Greece that are now available, it becomes even more enticing!

 

I originally wrote and posted this seven years ago, as I was going through my first-grade school book published right after the Second World War. In it there was a description of fassoláda (bean soup), which was often referred to as ‘the Greek national dish’ in the old days. Surprisingly, the version in my book had no tomato! I was shocked, as fassoláda is always made with tomatoes as far as I can remember, but probably in those days canned tomatoes as well as tomato paste were not yet a common ingredient in all households. See also how the kitchen and stove looked in most parts of the country the 1950ies…

 

My revised recipe below is flavored with the wonderful Piperokama, the dried, smoked, hot peppers of Florina that our friend Naoumidis prepares.  I am told that it will be soon available in the US, as are his other deeply flavored roasted peppers which you can order  HERE and also HERE

 

We love to eat fassolàda with feta cheese, but also with canned sardines in olive oil or any smoked fish.

A simple bowl of olives, and/or taramosalata is the custom during the days of Lent, preceding Christmas.

 

Serves 4-6


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Bebinca: Indian Sweet Potato Pudding/Cake

The recipe, by Mayukh Sen, was published in the NY Times Cooking, in a piece he wrote about chef Nik Sharma. “The lightly sweet pudding cake is an ideal fall dessert — a far less stressful alternative to a more labored pie,” Sen writes.

The mild taste of this unusual sweet is certainly a wonderful complement to the spicy Indian dishes; for my version I love to add crystalized ginger to give it a slight kick.

 

 

Mayukh Sen notes that Mr. Sharma riffs on a traditional dessert from the Indian state of Goa, using a base of coconut milk, eggs and sweet potatoes that are roasted and then puréed, perfumed with nutmeg. “…the addition of maple syrup is a distinctly American touch. (Mr. Sharma likes to make this for Thanksgiving.) Be sure to leave time for the bebinca to cool and set — at least 6 hours in the refrigerator, but preferably overnight,” Sen writes.

 

 

Yield: 8 servings

 

 

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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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