I can’t remember when we started eating this salad–but once we started, we couldn’t get enough.
This pretty mama right here combines everything that’s great about spring: ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil, awesome onions, tangy balsamic and–what else?– creamy feta. MamaKef loves to whip one up before any gathering of two or more people… and I’ve been known to scarf down enough for four or more people. As one does.
Paulatimi’s Spring Salad
- 10 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 very large red onion, chopped or diced
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 6-8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 2-4 TBS white balsamic vinegar, to taste (reg balsamic fine too)
1. Combine prepped ingredients. Sprinkle with balsamic, one TBS at a time, tasting in between to make sure salad doesn’t get too tangy or soggy for your taste.
2. That’s it! Enjoy!
Asking me to pick a favorite Greek Easter dish is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child– everyone knows she has one, but no one wants her to say out loud who it is.
Luckily–I’m not a mother. So I don’t mind screaming from the rooftops that gemista (literally: the stuffed) are my FAVORITE!
On a scale of 1-to-easy, these are about a 5 or so. Lots of prep work involved, but not of the highly technical variety. I have been using this recipe for years and it is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser. ALWAYS. Except of course the first time I made them and I didn’t cook the rice and it took what I think was every ounce of self restraint for my Pappou not to laugh uncontrollably in my face.
My only additional thoughts are these:
- DO NOT believe that raisins are optional. They are required. And they are delicious.
- Use a serrated table steak knife (or any sharp but not too sharp knife) to remove the flesh. If you use your sharpest paring knife, you will accidentally cut through the skin of the tomato. Believe me when I say this.
- You will have left over filling– use it in a casserole or over pasta or something. It is so yummy.
- I never use a full 1.5 c water to bake the tomatoes in– I use a little less than one cup and then put a TBS or two of leftover filling between each tomato and bake it like that. But in the interest of keeping someone else’s recipe in tact, I have included the original instructions below.
- 10 medium perfectly-ripe beefsteak tomatoes (cheapest thing is to buy them day-of at Trader Joe’s)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 10 heaping tablespoons rice, prepared
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (unless you happen to have hard mizithra cheese or kefalograviera cheese), either shredded or the way it comes when using it for spaghetti… no idea what that’s called
- 1/2 cup sultana raisin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- salt and pepperAssembly
- Preheat oven to 375. Cut off tops of tomatoes (retain tops) and carefully scoop out flesh (retain this as well) using a knife and spoon. Place tomatoes in a glass pan large enough to hold them comfortably.
- Take tomato flesh and process it until pureed.
- Add olive oil, rice, onion, garlic, mint, nuts, cheese, sultanas, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (or season to taste).
- Stuff the vegetables evenly with this mixture.
- Replace tops of tomatoes.
- Combine 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup olive oil with a scant tablespoonful of tomato paste and a little salt and pepper and pour this around the veg.
- Bake in a preheated 375F oven (180C) for approx 1 3/4 hours (vegetables should pierce easily and be slightly blackened in parts).
- Turn off oven and leave in for another hour to’mellow’ before serving.
- This is best served slightly warm or at room temperature.
I don’t often cook potatoes. But when I do, I cook these.
These come to us via my cousin Francesca,who always comes up with these outrageously good dishes that are simple and easy (see also: the beet and yogurt salad). I enjoyed these the day after another cousin of mine got married and we stayed out until 4 am with my 80-year-old aunts… which is to say, they’re as good for entertaining as they are for a hangover. The recipe below will feed an army (10 lbs of potatoes!) so cut in proportion and you’ll be fine.
Francesca’s Orange Dijon Potatoes
- 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped into small bites (think homefry size)
- 2-3 c orange juice + the juice of 1-2 oranges (just depends on how orangey you like them)
- 1 c lemon juice
- 12 oz dijon mustard
- 1/4 c olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Put chopped potatoes into large mixing bowl. Toss thoroughly with all ingredients–I do not even bother to mix them together first. As a rule, I do the mustard last–but not for any particularly good reason other than I think it makes the burnt bits taste more mustardy, which I love.
2. Transfer the potatoes to 1-2 glass casserole dishes. Be sure to pour all the juice from the mixing bowl into the baking dish with the potatoes. It will seem like a lot of leftover juice–this will evaporate. Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them (truly I think in this case the crispier the better!). Stir every 10 minutes or so to distribute crispness and juice. Potatoes are done when most of the juice has evaporated, potatoes are soft all the way through and are crispy to your satisfaction.
Greek Easter 2013 has come and gone. I was lucky enough to have not one but TWO talented photographers at the gathering this year–so I am relieved the task of trying to convince you how well things turned out, as the pictures speak for themselves. Many, many thanks to JillyKef and BabyKef for their amazing pictures!
The lineup went a little something like this:
Paulatimi Salad Σαλάτα Πωλατιμι
Spinach Pie σπανακόπιτα
Picnic Pie πίτα πικ-νικ
Eggplant Rolldakia ρολάδαkια μελιτζάνας
Stuffed Tomatoes γεμιστές
Francesca’s Orange Dijon Potatoes πορτοκαλί πατάτες
Lamb Meatballs αρνί κεφτέδες
Goat Cheese/Pistachio Pie Just friggin’ delicious
Look forward to the rest of the recipes this and next week– in the meantime, some more pictures!
Well, friends–we have finally made it to the promised land. GREEK EASTER WEEKEND IS FINALLY HERE!
I am about to head out into the world armed with a grocery list 2 pages long and a determination to find the best spinach/honey/feta deals the DC area has to offer. If you hear about a woman who drowned in dill and mint leaves, you’ll know who it was.
In other news that is not as amazing as my pastitsio, my awesome friend Emmy (BennyBooKef? MaltLiquorLovingKef?) tipped me off to what is without a doubt the best hair deal in DC. Immortal Beloved, a trendy Logan Circle hair salon, offers haircuts by their stylists-in-training for just $25! I went yesterday expecting to get a haircut that was fine and left with one of the best cuts I’ve ever had. My stylist, Anna, was awesome and actually listened to the things I said I wanted–namely, layers long enough to stay in a ponytail through the entire long run. I am not being paid to endorse them, I just thought it was such a great deal that I should share.
My awesome cut inspired me to take my first ever Myspace-style “selfie,” which I will submit here as my “before” picture:
Yes- my phone cover is a Greek flag. My Greekness is your weakness.
…because as soon as I’m back from the grocery trip, I will transform into a yiayia and look like this “after” pic, taken in Princeton, NJ at Greek Easter 2010