Greek Geek!

I love a non-traditional Greek salad. I’ll explain in a bit. Mediterranean cuisine, especially Greek, is my top five favorite ethnic foods. I also love Greece, the country itself. I’ve only been there once. I went on a Mediterranean cruise and traveled to various parts of Italy, Greece, and Turkey. It was my first international trip and it was an incredible experience. That trip holds magical memories. As soon as I step foot on Greek land, I felt connected to that place.

Did you know there’s thousands of Greek islands, but only about 170 are inhabited? That’s insane! During my trip, I’ve visited: Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. My favorite was Mykonos. It was so beautiful there. Whenever I see the Mamma Mia! movies, it always reminds me of my trip many years ago. It brings back such beautiful memories. I’ve thought about living there. Maybe when I retire. Mykonos seems like a retirement-friendly island. Maybe I could run a hotel like Meryl Streep’s character did in Mamma Mia! Hehe!

Our featured dish this week is a traditional Greek salad. I mentioned above that I love non-traditional Greek salad. I was introduced to what I thought was authentic Greek salad before my travels to Greece. It became one of my favorite go-to dishes when I’d dine at Greek restaurants here in the islands.

Here’s a story for the books of my first dining experience in Greece. I was so excited to try the Greek salad at a restaurant in Athens. Well, when I got my order, I was so disappointed. As you can see in the image, there’s no lettuce in that salad. It contained the ingredients I’m not necessarily too fond of: bell peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I thought there was a mistake. Nope, turns out that was the correct order. I learned that authentic Greek salad does not contain lettuce. I attempted to do research, but could not find the reason behind why there’s no lettuce.

It wouldn’t be wrong to add lettuce to a Greek salad. It just wouldn’t be the traditional salad that is served in Greece. It’ll be like a Greek-American salad. Personally, I love lettuce and it will always be part of my salad make-up.

The only ingredients I enjoyed from that authentic salad were the feta cheese and red onions. I didn’t care for the kalamata olives back then, but in the recent years, I’ve learned to enjoy it. Gotta like that salty bite.

Despite that discouraging experience, I enjoyed other authentic Greek dishes in Mykonos and Santorini, like the lamb kabobs and gyros. They were delicious! Tzatziki sauce is the best! Seasoned yogurt sauce really pairs well with meat and pita bread. It’s very simple to make. I use plain Greek yogurt and season it with dried dill, garlic salt, and black pepper. Bam! Super easy!

I can’t wait to plan another trip to Greece. I loved the food (minus the salad, haha), the atmosphere, the landscape, and the people. The people were wonderful. In Mykonos, I remember having a lovely conversation with a local store owner. Even got a picture with her. She was so sweet.

Have a great week. We’re heading into the middle of April already. Is it me, or is this month flying much quicker than previous months this year?

αντιο σας (antio sas– “goodbye” in Greek),

FS x

Here’s a recipe to make that classic Greek salad: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/classic-greek-salad-recipe-2112069

Hard core balsamic vinegar!

Boy, oh boy! Balsamic vinegar is where it’s at! It’s potent, but oh-so-good, and healthy for ya. Did you know it’s made from grapes?! I had no idea! Where was I? Haha! Makes me think of wine.

I was inspired by our Easter luncheon to make a dish with balsamic vinegar. I also learned how healthy it is for you. Time to use this ingredient much more often.

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I made a honey-balsamic chicken dish, courtesy of AllRecipes.

It was a very simple dish. I, of course, added onions and garlic to my dish. My must-haves!

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I baked the chicken for an hour and 10 minutes at 375 degrees. It was really good! Best to marinate the night before- not required, though.

I also made a spinach, quinoa, and strawberry salad with homemade oil and vinegar dressing. Oh, to-die-for!

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Ingredients for the dressing. I measured 1/3 c oil and vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar. The garlic powder and pepper are bonuses! Hehe!

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Beautiful salad; beautiful colors. You can cook the quinoa in a rice cooker or on the stove. I cooked it in the rice cooker- one cup of quinoa and measured two cups of water, as instructed, but the quinoa came out a bit mushy. Next time, I’ll put 1.5 cups of water instead. Can’t always trust the instructions. That’s why I always cook by taste, rather than following a recipe to-the-tee. I use recipes as a guide.

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend! Relax and unwind…

 

Orzo bake!!!!

A couple weekends ago, I made a random dish with orzo pasta. I’ve never had orzo before and was curious to make this Greek Chicken Orzo Casserole dish by Betty Crocker. However, I, of course, changed the recipe, a tad bit. Ok, maybe by a lot! It turned out really delicious! I couldn’t stop eating it!!!!

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BAM! Another success!

I altered the recipe:

  • 1 package (16 oz) uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen™ organic diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach
  • 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled- I used two 8 oz feta cheese containers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup Progresso™ reduced sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)- I used Swanson’s reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb chicken tenders, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 11 tenders) I used ground chicken and turkey
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning I used authentic balsamic vinegar from ITALY!!! That was some thick vinegar!
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel- I zested the lemon
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions

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I need to find this the next time I am in Italy!

Happy new week!

FS