It had been a while since I had put together a nice dinner for Vahe, and the flavors of Greek food just sounded so good. Here’s what we had for dinner last night! Click the links for recipes!
I love the flavors and variety in this pasta. The sauce is made from the feta melting down around the hot noodles, the artichoke marinade and lemon juice – yum!
Greek Pasta Toss
1/2 pound whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds and quartered
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch rounds and quartered
1 14-ounce can marinated artichoke hearts (you can chop these if you want – I leave mine as is, because I don’t really care for them – just easier for me to pick out 🙂
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup green and/or black olives, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
optional: lemons for garnish
1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. Saute onions and minced garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent. Then, add in the zucchini and yellow squash and cook until tender.
4. When the pasta is done, drain well, then return to pot over medium-low heat. Add in sauteed vegetables, and all of the remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Heat until the feta has melted and all of the ingredients are heated though. Garnish with lemon.
These are cute little appetizers that are very tasty and fun to make! If you are making any other Greek dishes, chances are you will already have these ingredients on hand – just use what you have leftover!
Greek Toothpick Appetizers
Feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Cucumber, sliced into 1/3-inch rounds and cut in half
Red Onion, cut into wedges
1. Layer the ingredients on the toothpick, and serve! (I like to wrap the basil leaf around the tomato before sticking it on.)
This is probably one of my all-time favorite chicken marinades. It had been a while since I made it, and I had forgotten how good it was! I can’t remember where I initially got this recipe, or if the recipe that I have is the original or my own – either way, it’s outstanding!
Marinated Greek Chicken Kabobs
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1.5 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 large green bell pepper, cut into wedges
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/4 -inch rounds
1. Mix together all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl or gallon-sized ziploc bag. Add in chicken, coat well, then marinate in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.
2. Preheat the grill or barbeque to high heat.
3. Stack the chicken and vegetables alternately on the kabob sticks, making sure not to crowd the stick. (I usually do about 4 pieces of chicken, and 4 veggies per stick)
4. Grill the skewers on the pre-heated grill until the chicken is cooked through.
*You could also bake these in the oven. I would assume 375-degrees for about 15 minutes or so? Just a guess though – check to make sure they are done!
Hummus seems to be emerging as a new “health food.” And while it is very healthy, and very tasty – it doesn’t need to be very expensive or bland. The basic ingredients of hummus are garbanzo beans (or chickpeas), a little olive oil, lemon juice, and a little garlic and salt. Just stick everything in your food processor or blender, and puree until it is the consistency you want (I prefer mine a little chunky!). From there, you can pretty much add anything that you want to add more flavor. Here are a few variations that I tried last night..
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, reserve liquid
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
For lemon-parsley hummus (pictured above) add:
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
For sun-dried tomato & basil hummus (pictured below) add:
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil (use the oil too)
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1. Put all of the ingredients together in a food processor or blender, and puree until desired consistency. Use the reserved liquid from the garbanzo beans to reach desired thick/thinness.
Great with pita bread!!
We were at a friend’s house a few weeks ago, and another one of their guests were talking about these. They sounded so good – I just had to try them! The first time I made them I followed a recipe that I found online. They were good, but a little too strong for my taste. So, I made them again last night but added in a little cream cheese and mozzarella to tone down the feta a bit. I thought they were so much better! They still had great flavor, but the feta didn’t overpower the whole thing like it had before. I also made them a lot smaller then before, so they were easier (and cleaner) to eat, with a little more crunch! Yum!
1/2 cup butter
15 sheets phyllo dough
1 9-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or a little dried oregano, basil, parsley)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 ounce cream cheese
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2. Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.
3. Lay out one sheet of phyllo dough, and brush or spray with butter. (I keep just a normal spray bottle of butter in my fridge for phyllo dough – just melt it in the microwave and spray. It is SO much faster then brushing, and you use much less butter!) Lay out another sheet directly on top, spray, then repeat one more time – so that you have three layers of phyllo dough on top of one another, with a layer of butter on top of each.
4. Cut the dough into 6 strips across the width of the dough.
5. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the bottom of each strip. Then fold up each strip into triangles like a paper football. It’s kind of hard to explain… here’s a picture that I found that should help.
5. Place each triangle seam-side down on a baking sheet, and brush or spray the tops with butter. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
This is traditionally a Greek dessert. But ask any Armenian, and they will tell you it was their own. No matter who thought it up first, it is delicious!
I have a little spray bottle that I like to use for the butter when I make baklava. Spraying the butter on will take so much less time, and use so much less butter then if you were to brush it on.
Also, make sure you cut your baklava before you bake it. I have found that the easiest way to do this is to have a dry, unbuttered top layer. Pull out your best knife, and carefully cut it into pieces. I like to cut it into 6 pieces by 4 pieces, then cut each of those in half diagonally. After it has been cut, spray on your last layer of butter.
This is really a treat that is better the next day, after the layers have had time to absorb the sauce that you pour on top. The cooler the sauce and the baklava are before you pour it on top, the better. If they are both hot the baklava can get soggy. I usually pour cooled sauce on warm baklava, and it turns out fine. Just make sure neither are still hot!
Tzatziki (Tsa-Zee-Kee) is another one of Vahe’s favorites. I’ve heard others call it cucumber sauce, but tzatziki is just so much more fun to say. This is a Greek sauce with a yogurt base. We make this a lot, and so the other night I measured out everything I was putting into the bowl so that we could have a standard recipe – and thus, this recipe! This is a great dip, sauce, dressing for basically anything. It tastes very fresh and healthy. Vahe loves it with bread, on salads, with meat, anything. We also have been using it as a sauce when we make shawarma – and so far, it’s everyone favorite! Make sure to use fresh dill, and a real lemon for the best taste!
Ok, I’ll admit it – I’m scared of dill. I’ve never eaten a pickle. And, never tried tzatziki. But, everyone else that we have made this for loves it, and prefers it to the tzatziki that they have bought in the store! I’ll take their word for it, and maybe yours too. 🙂
This is Vahe’s favorite type of bread I make. He says that it is very similar to Armenian bread. A batch never lasts longer then 24 hours at our house. We love it stuffed with feta, cilantro and tomatoes. It’s a great sandwich bread, and it also pairs along great with Indian and Greek foods. After the first rise, I like to roll out each pita, and place it on a piece of lightly floured waxed paper for an easy transfer to the wire cake rack to bake in the oven. The only time I have had this recipe flop is when I overworked the dough after the first rise, trying to roll out the perfect circle. As long as you roll out a flat shape – it will puff just fine, don’t worry too much about a perfect and consistent shape. You’ll get better with practice! This recipe is also great when made with 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour.