Going Greek At Your Easter Monday Table
It’s the day after Easter Sunday. The marvellous feasts are behind you and the fridge is stocked with leftovers but you just can’t conjure up the enthusiasm to tuck into yet another plate of rich food. Perhaps what you’re hankering for is a light, clean meal that is easily assembled and bursting with flavour. In other words, a taste of Greece.
The simplicity and colour of Greek food thrive in crisp salads, fresh seafood and some of the best lamb dishes in the culinary world. Mediterranean cuisine has a proud reputation for being nutritious and Greek food largely lives up to this although the classics, like moussaka and baklava, are known for being a little more lavish.
It really doesn’t take much to pull together a beautiful Greek meal. All you need are the staples of a bottle of quality extra virgin olive oil, handfuls of oregano, parsley and dill, a basket of fresh lemons and a block of feta.
For this story, woman with drive asked three Greek cookbook authors what they would put on their table and they responded with family favourites. Alexandra Stratou, author of Cooking to Share, has given a sweet twist to a familiar basic, Helena and Vikki Moursellas of Taking You Home chose a slightly luxurious dessert and Maria Elia of Smashing Plates offered a gorgeous salad.
When Greeks taste something delicious, they say “yia sta heria stas” which means “I kiss your hands” in celebration of the chef’s skill. These three effortless dishes might just win you that accolade.
Rizogalo (Rosewater Rice Pudding)
“This dessert originated in Turkey and has a beautiful fresh flavour. We love the creaminess of the rice, and all the subtle flavours.”
By Helena and Vikki Moursellas
5½ cups full-cream milk
¼ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ cup rosewater
3 strips of lemon zest
1 cup arborio rice
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornflour
Pour the milk into a deep saucepan, add the caster sugar, vanilla bean paste, rosewater and lemon rind. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil. Immediately lower the heat, gradually stir in the rice and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to overcook the rice or it will become gluggy.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and cornflour together. Using a measuring cup, scoop out ½ cup of milk from the rice mixture and add to the egg yolks. Whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the rice mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon and place back on the stove for about 10 minutes.
Scoop the rizogalo into dessert glasses and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
(Recipe and image taken from Taking You Home by Helena and Vikki Moursellas ($39.99), published by Hachette Australia)
Peachy Greek Panzanella Salad
“Panzanella is a bread salad that bursts with flavour making it a great accompaniment to barbecued meat or fish. Try adding some crumbled feta as the saltiness works really well with the sweet juicy peaches. Another great addition is charred green peppers.”
By Maria Elia
¼ cup Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
2 ripe peaches
10 slices of Greek sesame bread or ciabatta
2 garlic cloves, peeled
450g cherry vine tomatoes, halved
A small bunch of basil, leaves torn
Olive oil, for drizzling
For the dressing:
2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme leaves
Pinch of sugar
¼ cup Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar or red wine vinegar
2/3rd cup extra virgin olive oil
Peel, halve and thinly slice the shallots. Toss with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside.
Preheat a griddle pan. Quarter the peaches, drizzle with a little oil and place on the griddle until charred on either side. Do this over high heat as you want the peaches to take on a charred taste but remain firm and juicy. Place on a plate in a single layer (if you pile them up they will steam and continue to cook) and let cool.
Rub the bread with the garlic and set the garlic aside. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and char it on the griddle. Set aside to cool.
Quarter each piece of peach again and place in a large bowl together with the tomatoes and basil. Tear the bread into pieces roughly the same size as the peaches and add to the bowl along with the marinated shallots and their juices.
Finely chop the garlic and place in a separate bowl, add the dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Season with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper; allow the flavours to marinate for around 10 minutes before serving.
Strapatsada (Scrambled Eggs with Tomato Sauce)
“The day after Easter Sunday is one of my favourite days when we have an unofficial feast of leftovers for lunch and then dinner is reserved for those whose thoughts are still hungry. The recipes below are perfect for a light post-Easter meal.”
By Alexandra Stratou
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 medium tomatoes, grated, or 200g canned chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
75g crumbled feta cheese
Add the onion to a frying pan with a thin layer of oil and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato and sugar with half a cup of water and let boil for 20 minutes, or until all the juices have evaporated and the mixture has started to caramelise.
Beat the eggs well in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the tomato mixture, lower heat to medium-low, and stir continuously with a wooden spoon. The egg should slowly start to combine with the tomato into one homogenous mixture – make sure not to end up with big chunks of cooked egg that are separated from the sauce.
Once the eggs are cooked, take them off the heat and add the feta cheese. Mix well. Serve on toasted bread.
Main Image Credit: Margaret Barley
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