Two staples that no Greek Kitchen should be without…
LEMONS and OLIVES…
Greek Cuisine delivers some favorite flavors and foods including olives, feta cheese, lemon and garlic. What’s not to like about that?
I also adore dishes such as Pastitsio (click for recipe), Spanakopita and Baklava. The first bite of anything with phyllo always leaves a crumbly mess of flakes on my shirt but anything that oozes honey or is surrounded by a flaky shell is worth every bite.
Did you know the Greeks are said to be the first to don the chef’s hat?
“Few foods add such flavor magic as the lemon” (Food Lover’s Companion).
Only second to salt and pepper, lemon is a superb seasoning valued for its sour and refreshing flavor. Added to a beverage, (Lemoncello anyone?) made into a curd, squeezed into lemonade or cooked into a savory dish…it’s impact is unforgettable. Not only is the odd-shaped, yellow, thick-skinned fruit a flavor powerhouse, it also has medicinal and nutritional value like no other.
We all know about its superior amount of Vitamin C but did you know it has been used for non-culinary purposes? It ha been used in toothpaste, as a diuretic and antiseptic or antimicrobial, healing insect bites, sunburn and sores. I think I”ll keep lemons around at all times.
Buying: Organic lemons are available seasonally in some markets. Commercial lemon skins are dyed and waxed. Avoid lemons that have a darker yellow or dull color with a hardened or shriveled skin, which indicates old age. Also avoid soft spots, mold, or broken skin.
Storage: Keep in the refrigerator in a bag for 2 to 3 weeks.
Today I wanted to make something simple, warm and hearty with a few favorite ingredients combined in one pot of happiness bursting with mediterranean flavors.
“Stewy Greek Bowl! “
Time: 5-10 minutes prep40 minutes cooking time
- 1 Tablespoonextra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (or red)
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, quartered
- 1-15 oz can navy, garbanzo, or black beans, drained and rinsed (personal choice) (BRAND: Eden Organics uses BPA free cans).
- 1/2-15 oz can other bean of your choice (optional- I used 1 can navy +1/2 can garbanzo)
- 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped, fresh (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1-6 oz can tomatoe paste
- 2 cups low-sodium, chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1-2 large handfuls (1-2 cups) spinach, fresh, washed
- 1/2 cup, cooked. Whole wheat orzo, brown rice, quinoa or other grain of choice (optional for serving)
- Feta Cheese, garnish
- lemon slices for garnish
- Ouzo (cause why not?)
Chop onions, garlic, cilantro and olives. Set aside.
- Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil to pan. Heat for a few seconds then add onions and garlic, cooking until onions are slightly translucent (4 minutes).
- Place a heavy saucepan or dutch oven on the stove and add beans, chicken broth, tomato paste, olives, lemon juice, and cilantro . Stir to combine then add garlic and onion saute.
- Cook for approximately 30 minutes, it will thicken up nicely! (This will depend on your stove and the pot you use, mine was going to burn if I cooked it longer then 35 mins.)
- Cook the grain of your choice. I love whole wheat orzo. Bring water to a boil (based on serving size you’re making) add grain and follow cooking time.
- After 25 minutes add the spinach and mix so that it wilts nicely. Take off the stove and serve in a bowl, top with Feta cheese and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice!
- Instead of serving over a grain, serve over a bed of sautéed spinach or kale by heating a teaspoon of olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add 1-2 cloves chopped garlic and heat for an additional minute or two. Add a mound (mound in my book equals a few handfuls or whatever you can fit in your pan). It shrinks like a shrinky dink so be generous with your greens here!
- You can use any type of bean and also add any type of veggie. Why not zucchini slices or some sort of squash? More veggies the Merrier!
You might also Salivate over:
- Pastitsio ( Lighter Greek Lasagna)
- Sweet Potato Hummus
- Fasolakia (Vegan Greek Stew)
- Tomato Garbanzo Simple Soup
What’s your favorite Greek Dish? Do you have a special use for lemons? Do share!