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Aug 1, 2008 04:25 AM

The Glorious Foods of Greece: Vegetables, Beans, and Grains

August 2008 Cookbook of the Month, The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas.

Please post your full-length reviews of vegetables, bean, and grains here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number and region, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

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  1. Stewed Vegetables with Sausage from Limnos, p 278

    Kochilas puts this in the vegetable section of the Islands of the Northeastern Aegean chapter so I'm following her lead.

    This was straightforward and delicious (although Mr GG didn't love it as much - he likes meat a lot and is still raving about the Chez Panisse ragu I made last weekend). I used a mixture of Italian herb sausages and Cumberland sausage as that's what i had. The recipe calls for you to brown the sausages in their own fat but mine were very lean so i added a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Then you add three chopped red onions and and a chopped fennel bulb and some fresh dill (as a substitute for wild fennel leaves - I left out the dill as it's not something I'm fond of). When the veggies have softened add a medium courgette, quartered (wasn't sure what she meant here so I chopped it into four and then quartered it) OR 1 1/2 pounds of green beans, 2 grated fresh tomatoes (I had half a can of plum toms which needed using so I subbed those) and 1/3 cup of fresh mint. Season and add EVOO (I used 1T istead of the suggested 3 to 4 as I'd already used 1T to sautée the sausage) and enough water to come halfway up the vegetables. Simmer for about an hour with the lid on until vegetables are tender. Serve warm or at room temp - this is vital imo, it tasted a lot better warm than piping hot.

    I really enjoyed the subtle flavours of the mint and the vegetables and it really took me back to meals I've enjoyed in Crete. We mopped up the juices with my first attempt at No-Knead bread and a glass of Normandy cider - just delicious.

    9 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      That recipe is on my To Make list, GG. Is the final dish soupy or does the liquid reduce in volume? I have found that many dishes taste much better just warm or at room temp. Piping hot seems to deaden the flavors, it seems to me.

      1. re: Gio

        Not that soupy, no. But enough liquid to mop up nicely with some good bread.

      2. re: greedygirl

        I also have this on my to make list (although with turkey or chicken sausages), but wondered if it could make a full meal on its own since she has it in the veg. section. Did you make a full meal of it?

        That no-knead bread is pretty amazing, isn't it?

        1. re: LulusMom

          We did, but it was lunch, and we ate the whole recipe (which she says serves four) between the two of us! So I'd say you definitely need something else with it. Maybe some rice, or another dish?

          I am sold on the no-knead bread, but it's only really possible to make it on days you're not at work, no?

          1. re: greedygirl

            My husband is in charge of making the no-knead bread, but I *think* he's made it and then just left it for hours on end only to do the turn over (or whatever it is) that evening. But again, he's in charge of it, so I'll have to ask him if he feels it is necessary to do it on home days ...

            Thanks for the info on the amount; I think maybe rice might be the answer.

            1. re: greedygirl

              gg: You've GOT to try the faster NYT artisanal bread in 12 seconds (kidding) recipe. It's extremely fast and you store any leftover dough in the fridge and lop off a piece whenever you want to bake another loaf...up to a point, that its, since the dough doesn't multiply on its own. Dagnabbit!

              There are posts about it (even some recent) here if you search artisanal and 5 minutes .... I think that's it, anyway. Ain't I helpful?!

              1. re: oakjoan

                That's the next thing on my list to try! Probably a bit easier to fit round a job, right?

            2. re: greedygirl

              My turn on the Stewed Vegetables with Sausage from Limnos (p 278). Thanks to greedygirl for letting me know it needed to be doubled for a meal - she was definitely right. I used spicy turkey sausage, half green beans and half zucchini. Directions say to add the fresh mint and dill when you add the veg. and then cook for an hour, but I saved half the mint and all the dill and added in the last 5 minutes. I wasn't very excited by this one - if it wasn't for the spiciness of the sausage and the brightness of the dill, I don't think it would have had much going for it at all. That said, husband liked it more than I did. It just didn't seem like anything special to me.

            3. Ionian Islands Chapter:
              Garlicky Eggplant from Zakynthos, Pg. 81

              This just had to be my first Greek dish - eggplant is my favorite vegetable and every time I've had it in a Greek restaurant I've been disappointed...
              This was absolutely a delight - easy to make and very tasty.

              The eggplant is sliced in rounds, and fried with a bit of EVOO then drained on paper towels. DH used the grill pan. Two tomatoes are grated, I used the course side of a box grater with great trepidation but the process went very well with no injuries. Eight cloves of garlic are smashed and fried for a few minutes, the tomato pulp and juice is added along with sherry vinegar, salt & FGBpepper. This is simmered for 10 minutes. The eggplant and sauce are layered in a baking dish and baked in a 350* oven for 30 minutes.

              I served this as the main dish intending to make the cornmeal fritters from Corfu but discovered too late that we were all out of cornmeal, so having a box of Near East couscous in the pantry, which conveniently had a Greek Salad recipe on the box, that's what I made as a side. FWIW: it was loaded with chopped fresh veggies and went very with the eggplant.

              We loved this and will definitely make it again....and again! However I wish she had included some recommendations for side dishes or perhaps wine pairings. But then I like to research such things. It's all good!

              8 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                Oh good - I'm making this for dinner - just got back from the market with loads of goodies. I was going to make half of it and serve it with a meat pie.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Ditto! Just got a lovely pinkish/lavendar and white stripy eggplant in my CSA box yesterday. Need a side dish for tonight.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    Is this a main course do you think - or do you mean you are using it as a`side dish? I'm about to put together the meat pie ... maybe I should save this for tomorrow? I've salted, rinsed & drained my eggplants, but I guess they'd keep until tomorrow.

                2. re: Gio

                  I made this last night - not much to add, except that I used 3 large tomatoes, rather than the 4-5 called for, and baked for 40-45 minutes per the book. Delicious dish. I made the sauce after browning the egg plant, but it would be faster if you did both at once.

                  I served it with the meat pie on p. 91, some tzatziki that I made from a recipe off the internet, and a green salad.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    This morning's breakfast was a piece of toast, a schmear of the eggp[lant with a poached egg on top and pot of Earl Grey tea....Lovely!

                    1. re: Gio

                      I'm thinking of cutting up my leftovers and serving it with pasta for dinner for me tonight, since husband is away.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Tonight, Monday, was as always Macaroni night at casa G&G. A tomato sauce was made with diced and sauteed pancetta, garlic, leftover half red onion, half red bell pepper..... and the leftover eggplant. It was delicious, and not very spicy but just right. Had to clean up some ricotta salata, fontina and parmisano for the final grating and dusting and we loved every bit of it!

                        We had so much leftover chicken from a few days ago that I'm going to simply heat it up and make another COTM side tomorrow night to go with it.

                        I have a whole new interest in cooking after digging myself out of the rut I obviously was in. Thank you COTM!

                  2. re: Gio

                    I made this as well, and it was excellent! Quite easy to make, but it does take a bit of time. I made it for a potluck this afternoon and am sorry there are not any leftovers. I don't think this would go well as a main dish, maybe if you added some goat cheese or feta it would be more substantial. Certainly a keeper.

                  3. Peloponnesos Chapter
                    Fresh Green Beans with Onions and Fresh Cream, Pg. 27

                    Ingredients are:
                    2 lbs. fresh green beans. I used 1 lb.
                    1 large onion, finely chopped
                    1/c cup heavy cream. I used 1/4 cup 1/2 & 1/2
                    Salt & Pepper

                    Onions are cooked in warmed oil till translucent...about 15 minutes. Trimmed beans are added with S & P, tossed to coat with the onions and oil, pot is covered and simmered for 10 minutes. Water is then added to cover the beans by 1 inch, pot is covered and beans are cooked till "practically limp".... 30 minutes. The cream is added, tossed with the beans, covered, and cooked till cream has thickened.

                    After all that liquid and all the cooking time I thought the beans would be mush. But, I was wrong! I'm so used to steaming most veggies. The dish was not spectaular by any means but strangely satisfying in a blandish kind of way. I found myself wanting to add a few fresh herbs, but controlled the urge. Another rendition of the ever popular green bean.

                    This was served with the Chicken Smothered with Onions & Feta, pg. 33......good combo.

                    1. The original comment has been removed
                      1. Beet greens w/ yogurt
                        I made this from the weblink MM posted on the master thread.

                        It's a great dish, and I've made it twice already, though I just received the book, can't find it! I made once per recipe (er, weblink) and then differently. It is easy, very flavorful and a keeper!

                        Version 1 -- the weblink: (I halved recipe for one)
                        Recipe has you blanch beet greens or chard, shock in ice water and drain. Mash one clove garlic in mortar & pestle, mix in lemon juice and let sit 5 mins or so, then add to 1/2 c greek yogurt. Chop 1/2 red onion.
                        Then back to your chard:
                        Heat saute pan and add 1 T butter. Put greens in w/ salt and cook 5 mins. Remove to plate and put yogurt on top as a sauce.
                        Then saute chopped onion in more butter on high heat until it browns and put on top of yogurt.

                        Version 2 -- my adaptation
                        This time I used beet greens rather than chard. I nixed the blanching and shocking. I tore up, soaked and drained beet greens. Chopped garlic and red onion.
                        Sauteed onions w/ olive oil, added garlic for one minute. Then added greens, salt and later a little water to steam, along w/ some canned garbanzo beans for protein. Covered and simmered (while I boiled some fresh corn). Then simmer away liquid uncovered, taste and resist eating straight out of the pan.
                        Just yummy. A perfect summer dish when you have the freshest greens.

                        Can't find this dish in the index though.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: NYchowcook

                          I made this last night with gorgeous chard and garlic from the Farmer's Market and I agree, it's a keeper! I made it per Version 1 but I couldn't resist adding a few pine nuts in with the onions and I'm pretty sure I'll do that whenever I have them around because I really liked the little crunch. Will probably try Version 2 next time except putting the garlic in the yogurt, liked that punch.

                          1. re: NYchowcook

                            There's a slightly different recipes on P230 for beet greens cooked with butter and youghurt. I might give that a try later as I have all the ingredients to hand.

                            1. re: NYchowcook

                              Not something I would have thought to make had it not been for both of your reviews. Used the Web link since I don't have the book. Made it with callaloo, because it looked lovely at the farmers' market this morning. Used Fage 0 because it was in the fridge and added toasted pine nuts because I had them and it sounded like a super idea (thanks, Gretchen). I doubled the garlic, just because I always do. Mistake. Too much. Also cut the butter to a couple of teaspoons to no ill effect that I could tell.

                              It is indeed a tasty, light summer dish--perfect for when you have access to lot of marvelous greens. But if I do it again, I'd try to do it with full fat, fuller flavor yogurt. It's such a prominent element in the dish that the best is definitely called for.