For me the essential flavours of Greece are feta, lemon, olive oil and fresh figs – here are some of my favourite dishes that make use of these ingredients.
this is very popular dip – specially in Crete – and is extremely simple to make. Everyone in Greece has their own way of making it. This recipe was scribbled down one night in a rebetika bar in Thessaloniki by my lovely Greek publisher, Costas Papadopoulos. It is very simple but works perfectly.
175 g of yellow split peas
2 roughly chopped onions
1 large lemon
2 whole cloves of garlic
4 fl oz of Greek olive oil (use no other!)
Bring the peas to the boil and remove the foam. Add salt, garlic and half the onions then continue to simmer for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash/sieve when cool. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil, caramelise the remaining onions and serve – with vegetable sticks or bread.
– this is a perfect chilled soup for warm evenings (and best of all requires no cooking)
3 big cucumbers
12 big leaves of mint (plus 6 pretty ones for garnishing)
Salt & pepper
Peel cucumbers and roughly chop. Put in food processor and whiz for a few seconds (not too long as you still want some texture). Finely chop the mint (by hand) and add to the cucumber then add salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the feta and put a spoonful in the bottom of each soup bowl. Pour on the cucumber, then sprinkle a little more feta on top, along with a single mint leaf.
CHICKEN WITH OLIVES
100 ml of olive oil
12 chicken thighs
6 chopped shallots
3 chopped celery sticks
3 sliced carrots
Plenty of pitted black olives (I like at least six per person)
150 ml of water
150 ml of white wine
Salt & pepper
Brown the chicken thighs in a pan with the olive oil and seasoning and put in an over proof dish. Saute the shallots, celery, carrots until they are just softening then add water, wine and lemon juice. Simmer for ten or fifteen minutes, then pour over the chicken. Cover the dish and put in oven at around 190 degrees c for an hour. Add the olives and put in for a further 30 minutes. To garnish, sprinkle with a handful of chopped coriander.
Serve with thick golden fingers of potato tossed in olive oil and roasted in the oven, and a green salad.
FIGS IN FILO PASTRY
10 figs (cut into quarters, wedge shaped)
80 g of flour
80 g of granulated sugar
350 ml milk
1 tsp of almond essence
Line a dish with the filo pastry and place in the figs, fleshy side up. Mix flour and sugar and beat in the eggs, milk and almond essence. Pour this on top of the figs and bake in the oven for 50 minutes at 180 degrees c (put a piece of aluminium foil over the tart to prevent the filo pastry burning). Remove from oven and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar and with thick Greek yogurt.
Καλή όρεξη! (BON APETIT!)