Greek Fare

Two visits to the Greek Islands have left me with several favourite recipes such as BBQ octopus. Apart from Greek salad, other favourites are Gigantes Plaki – or baked beans, Greek style – and Souvlaki. Common Greek flavours are oregano, mint, garlic and lemon.

– Eva Wiland

Kotopoulo Stifatho

Stifatho is Greece’s comfort food. It is a thick stew usually made with beef or lamb in a flavoursome tomato sauce with whole baby onions. The original stifatho was made with rabbit but it can also be made chicken. This stifatho is made with chicken thighs, marinaded beforehand in white wine, with a cinnamon stick, orange peel and herbs. Serves four

Ingredients:
6 chicken thighs with bone
1 cup white wine
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 orange peels
2 bay leaves
1 tblsp dry oregano
12-16 baby or pearl onions, or shallots, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tblsp flour
1 400g can crushed tomatoes
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tblsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tblsp flatleaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Utensils: bowl with cover; ovenproof shallow dish; stirring spoon; can opener; casserole with lid.
Time: 45 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Place chicken with cinnamon stick, orange peels, garlic, bay leaves, oregano and seasoning in a bowl with the wine or vermouth. Cover and marinade for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Heat oven to a high 220°C. Place onions in ovenproof dish, drizzle half the olive oil on top, season with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade and dab dry with paper towels. Heat the remaining oil in the casserole over high heat, turn chicken thighs in flour and fry until browned on each side, remove and set aside. Deglaze casserole by straining in marinade liquid and reduce by half.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic to casserole with lemon juice, herbs and sugar. Lower heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  5. Replace chicken in casserole, lower heat to a slow simmer and season well. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove onions from oven and add carefully to casserole with parsley and taste for seasoning. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
  7. Serve in bowls on top of riso pasta.

Gigantes Plaki

Giant beans in English – or simply: butter beans in tomato sauce. A friend recommended this dish, which I missed while in Greece. But I now prepare it often at home because it’s easy, healthy and tasty. I find Ardmona Rich & Thick Onion & Garlic Diced Tomatoes with Paste particularly well suited for this dish.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
2 onions finely sliced
2 cans Ardmona Rich & Thick Onion & Garlic Diced Tomatoes with Paste
1 tblsp tomato paste mixed with a little water
2 cans butter beans
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tblsp crumbled feta
Utensils: cutting board; vegetable knife; frying pan; stirring spoon; grater; can opener; ovenproof casserole
Time: preparation 20mins; cooking time 40 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Peel onions and slice finely. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to frypan on moderate heat. Drop in the onions and soften. Grate garlic finely on to onions and stir to mix. Add the Ardmona tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer on low heat to thicken – about 10 minutes.
  2. Open can of butter beans and drain. Mix carefully into tomato mixture with the parsley and season to taste.
  3. Serve with crumbled fetta scattered on top and ciabatta bread on the side.

Greek Salad

My first meal in Greece, was in an Athens taverna – a tasty Greek salad, which at its most basic consists of tomatoes, cucumber, campsicum, Kalamata olives and fetta with an oregno-flavoured dressing. My first Greek salad also had lettuce with ham and hardboiled egg grated on top, making it a substantial lunchtime meal.

Ingredients:
2-3 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 large, Lebanese cucumber cut in thick slices
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, seeded and sliced
2 tblsp kalamata olives, pitted
150g fetta cheese in cubes
2 tblsp continental parsley, chopped (optional)
1/4 iceberg lettuce (optional)
400g ham off the bone, cut in strips (optional)
2 hardboiled eggs (optional)
For dressing:
2 tblsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
​3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp freshly chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: cutting board; vegetable knife; salad bowl
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Preparation:

  1. If using lettuce, wash, shred and dab dry in paper towel or lettuce spinner and put in bottom of salad bowl. Add tomato wedges, cucumber, onion, capsicum and olives to bowl and scatter fetta on top with parsley if desired.
  2. Make salad dressing by putting olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and seasoning in a jar with a lid. Shake the jar to mix and pour over salad and mix well.
  3. If using egg and ham, slice ham in strips and add to salad. Grate hardboiled eggs on top before fetta and parsley and salad dressing.
  4. Serve with slices of chiabatta bread.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki is a popular Greek dish of marinated pieces of meat grilled on skewers.

Ingredients:
2kg lamb, chicken or pork
1 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 dsp fresh oregano, finely chopped, or
1 dsp dried oregano
​2 dsp fresh mint, finely chopped, or
1 dsp dried mint
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: cutting board; vegetable knife; bowl with cover; tongs; skewers; shallow ovenproof roasting tray (optional)
Preparation Time: 1 hour; Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Cut meat in 1-inch cubes and place in bowl with olive oil, juice from the lemon, herbs and seasoning. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight (the meat can be kept in the marinade for up to three days.
  2. Thread the meat on the skewers and if desired, alternate with cherry tomatoes, capsicum and onion.
  3. Cook on hot BBQ for 15-20 minutes or in hot oven at 230°C until done, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Serve with Greek salad, rice or potato chips.

BBQ Octopus

The best BBQ Octopus I ever tasted was in a beach taverna in Chios – a Greek island near the Turkish coast. It was melt-in-the-mouth tender and crisp on the outside from searing on the BBQ. I have been given several tips on how to tenderise octopus. One is to beat it against a rock 40 times, another is to marinade it in wine with a cork. The cork is supposed to have enzymes that enhances tenderising. The main thing is to get rid of the liquid in the octopus. Brasing the octopus beforehand helps tenderise it.

Ingredients:
2kg octopus
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
​1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: stewing pot with cover; cutting board; vegetable knife; fork; tongs; skewers; two bowls
Preparation Time: 1 hour Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Place octopus and cork (optional) in pot over high heat on top of stove and cover. Leave to release liquid for about 5-8 minutes.
  2. The octopus should now be almost covered in liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer under cover until octopus is easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Remove from heat and add wine, lemon, garlic and half the oregano. Let octopus marinade until cool or put in bowl and leave covered in fridge overnight.
  4. Remove octopus from fridge and when it is at room temperature, lift out and turn in olive oil, remaining oregano and seasoning.
  5. Leave on hot BBQ and until well browned on all sides. Serve with Greek salad and chips.
MORE RECIPES:

Spanish Tapas

Ways with Eggs