Healthy and Flavourful
The traditional Mediterranean diets of Greece, Cyprus and other countries like southern Italy and France, are renowned for being extremely healthy. Such diets tend to be low on meat consumption and rich with beans, legumes, whole grains and abundant in fruits and vegetables.
Olive oil is also a core element of Mediterranean cuisine, which is a mono-unsaturated fat, good for heart health. Greek cuisine is particularly flavourful, fun to cook and often quite easy to make.
Beans and Legumes
Supported by Research
There is a plethora of research studies, supporting the health aspects of the traditional Mediterranean diet and this style of eating is a particularly good dietary pattern, for people at risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Beans and legumes especially feature in Greek cuisine and research has found eating a diet based largely on beans and legumes is a predictor of longevity.
Koupepia consist of vines leaves, stuffed with spicy rice, minced meat or grains. There are many different recipes.
25 vines leaves
100 g of pork minced
1 small onion
1 tbsp parley (flat leaf)
1 tsp tomato puree mixed into 1/2 cup of water (warm)
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 dried mint
1/3 cup of rice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup of warm water
Pinch of salt and pepper
If using tinned vine leaves, wash them well. If using fresh leaves, wash them and place in a bowl of warm water
Heat oil in a pan and fry onion. Then add the meat, cooking for a few minutes.
Add the rice, mint, salt and pepper. After mixing the tomato paste well into the 1/2 cup of water, add to the mixture and heat well.Remove mixture from the heat and allow to cool.
When the mixture has cooled, add a heaped tablespoon to each vine leaf, near stem. Fold over the sides and roll firmly, to enclose the rice mixture.
Arrange each koupepia in a casserole dish, snugly packed (layers can be added on top of each other)
Pour water, mixed with lemon juice on top of koupepia and place in the oven, at low heat to cook for about 20-30 minutes.
Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-koupepia
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Yellow Pea Soup 'Soupa Louvana'
10 cups of water or stock
2 cups of dried yellow peas
1 cup of finely chopped onions
1/2 cup of rice
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of lemon juice
freshly grated black pepper
a handful of black olives
After washing peas, put them into a deep soup pot and add water or stock. Heat to boiling and then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until cooked. The peas will need to be skimmed during cooking. Add the rice and cook for another 15 minutes. In another saucepan fry the onions until browned and then add them to the soup with the olive oil. Pour in the lemon juice and serve with chopped an de-seeded black olives sprinkled on top.
Giant Baked Beans 'gigandes plaki'
A kind of baked bean casserole
400g can butter beans 400g can chickpeas
2 cans 400g diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 large finely chopped Spanish onion
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tsp of brown sugar
Preheat oven to 180c (less fan forced)
Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan and add onion and garlic and cook until brown. Add the tomato purée and when warm add the diced tomatoes, butter beans, chick peas, sugar, oregano and cinnamon. Heat to almost boiling and then simmer for five minutes.
Put the bean mixture into an oven dish and cook for about an hour.
To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley, drizzle with olive oil and serve with crusty bread.
Seasoned rice or cracked wheat side dish
In Greece and Cyprus, pilafs are eaten very often. Usually a pilaf is made from rice or cracked wheat and seasoned with herbs and spices and very often onions and vegetables. A pilaf can be very tasty, filing and nutritious and is wonderful served with a main dish of beans or legumes.
Crushed wheat Pilaf 'Pilafi Pourgouri'
A specialty of Cyprus
2 cups of crushed wheat
1 cup of diced tomatoes
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of diced onions
3/4 cup of vermicelli noodles
freshly ground pepper and salt
Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, add onions and noodles and fry slowly so as not to burn.
Add chicken stock and allow to come to the boil. Meanwhile wash the cracked wheat under the tap with a sieve and put into saucepan.
Add the tomatoes and seasonings, stir gently. When the contents of the saucepan begins to boil, lower the temperature and simmer covered with lid for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from stove and place a clean tea towel under the lid, before putting lid back on. Leave for about 10 minutes to steam and get fluffy. Can be served with yoghurt or tzatziki.
Rice and Spinach Pilaf 'Spanachorizo'
1 cup of rice
1 bunch of spinach
2 cups of water or chicken stock
1/2 cups of diced onions
1/2 cup of olive oil
freshly ground pepper and salt, cinnamon
juice of a lemon
Wash the spinach and cut into pieces. Fry the onions until golden and then add the spinach and cook until soft. Add the water, or stock, seasoning and rice. Put lid on and cook for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from stove and cool with lid on for 10 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice. Serve.
Yoghurt Dip 'Tzatziki'
Low fat and delicious
1½ cups of thick natural yoghurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dill, tarragon or mint
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small cucumbers grated and de-seeded
2 tablespoons lemon juice
white pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
Combine yoghurt, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in a bowl and cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
After refrigerating, add herb of choice and cucumber into bowl and mix until smooth.
Add pepper and salt to taste.
Greek Sesame Bar 'Pasteli'
1 1/3 cups honey
2 1/2 cups hulled white sesame seeds
1/2 cup of blanched almonds
1 piece of lemon peel
Place honey and lemon peel in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the sesame seeds, stirring continuously until mixed thoroughly. Allow the mixture to boil again and remove from stove, Carefully remove peel and spread the mixture on a piece of baking paper, about one centimetre high, into the shape of a square.
When the pasteli cools, cut into squares or diamonds and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
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