Greek Avocado Ceviche

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Greek Avocado Ceviche

This is my way of celebrating a healthy dish!  I can serve my friends and family this Greek Avocado Ceviche and know how many health benefits it offers to them. Living in San Diego, we have many local avocado farms. Of course, we all have our favorite variety and mine happens to be the buttery Reed Avocado. We can find avocados at our farmer’s markets, where we can shop during the week and buy organic as much as possible. Below are a couple of my favorites.

For this recipe, feel free to substitute black beans, kidney or chickpeas. Try different fresh herbs such as tarragon, dill, or rosemary. Avocado loves lemon juice to brighten the flavor, but also a sprinkle on top with help in keeping the avocado from browning. Serve with crackers, sliced jicama or sliced bread. For more information on avocados, take a look at California Avocado’s website for more information.

The avocado has many health benefits to consider:

  • Rich in nutrients for your digestive tract
  • Great for your vision with many phytochemicals
  • Bone Health with Vitamin K
  • As well as vitamin B6, C, and E.

Here are a few types of avocados we see in our supermarkets.

Bacon, Fuerte and the Reed are featured here.

For this recipe I find it much easier if you have everything prepared ahead of time, often called “Mise En Place” in culinary terms, meaning everything in it’s place.

Add the first group of ingredients. The beans, fennel, tomatoes,  olives, onions and parsley.

Once everything has been combined gently, add the avocado. Serve with bread, crackers or sliced jicama.

 

Greek Avocado Ceviche

Honestly, you cannot go wrong with this delightful dish or dip for your table. Select the beans of your choice and add any vegetables you like. My version has more of a Greek variation.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword avocado, healthy, salad
Servings 4 side dish
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked beans
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and shredded
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 avocados, diced

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, fennel, tomatoes, onion, parsley and olives.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice, and basil to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Add the dressing to the bean mixture, and toss to coat.

  4. Fold in the avocado and serve immediately.

If you are an avocado lover as I am, you may want to take a look at my other recipes:

California Avocado Salsa with Jicama Chips

Avocado Risotto with Lime and Olive Oil

California Feta Bagel with Avocado

Enjoy your avocados this season!

Mary

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San Diego County Mushroom Farm Tour

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for San Diego County Mushroom Farm Tour

Welcome to The Chef’s Secrets Farm Tour on September 18th 2021, in San Diego.

WE ARE SOLD OUT! 

Please watch for our October Tour -TBA soon. Thank-you!

Chef Debbi and Chef Mary have collaborated to bring you monthly farm tours throughout the San Diego area, that we have enjoyed visiting throughout our careers. This is our first tour of the year, and we hope you are ready to explore our world of culinary. For this tour you will be meeting us at the Mushroom Farm, with your own transportation. We encourage you to car pool if possible. We will have two stops, from the Mushroom Farm in Escondido to North County Olive Oil in Encinitas.

Directions to both locations:

Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm

 North County Olive Oil

This is one of my favorite stops in North County San Diego, to get a peek into this organic farm and it’s operations. The owner will take us on a private tour of the facility, and at the end you will be selecting 2 varieties of mushrooms to take home with you. Mountain Meadow Farm is a family-owned business since 1952!

  • Wear comfortable clothing and a hat if you wish.
  • Closed toe shoes are required.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera!
  • If you wish tag your pictures of the Mushroom Farm on Instagram at mountainmeadowmushrooms.

Next up on our tour will be North County Olive Oil.

Here, you will enjoy lunch, a cooking demo and an olive oil tasting.

Our Chef’s Menu:

Cheese Platter with Seasonal Vegetables & Fruit
Winter Salad with Pixie Tangerines
Mushroom Risotto
Road Home Brownies

One glass of wine will be served with lunch.
Lemonade & Spring Water will be available.

Don’t miss the great swag bags that you’ll get to take home!

Sue Robers, the owner will be presenting an exclusive olive oil tasting with her specialty oils. Don’t miss out on her spectacular flavored oils as well and her exceptional local extra virgin olive oil. You will learn all about the industry and how its grown in California, making our state the #1 producer in the U.S. Her olive oils will be available for purchase.

And there will be plenty of time to shop around at our local garden shops at Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas.

We suggest you car pool with a friend, if you need further assistance please notify me at : maryplatis@gmail.com.




See you there!

Mary 

 

Sponsored by Melissa’s Produce 

 

 

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Grapefruit and Avocado Cabbage Slaw

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Grapefruit and Avocado Cabbage Slaw

Let’s just face it, I have had many salads in my life, but this Grapefruit and Avocado Cabbage Slaw in one of my new favorites. First of all, I love cabbages anyway I can get them. I love crisp cabbage leaves in a salad paired with a great dressing that softens and delivers a punch. The sesame oil in this recipe does just that! You won’t be disappointed making this dish.

Look below and read the health benefits of this salad, I’m totally impressed!. In the past, I have made Cabbage Soup with Fresh Vegetable,  which I make monthly for pure health reasons. It really gives your body all the nutrients you need to get your energy back. And it’s a crowd please. I grew up eating cabbage in our family and I have a few of our family recipes on my blog. Here are a few of my favorites:

Greek stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Greek Slaw Salad with EVOO

Savoy Cabbage with Sausage

Cabbage has many health benefits, and even more so if you eat the vegetable raw, as you do in this salad.

  • Cabbage is nutrient-rich!
  • Packed with Vitamin C and K.
  • Helps with digestion, improves gut health.
  • May help in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation.
  • And it’s heart healthy!!!

Peeling your grapefruit can be done in two ways. You can “supreme” by peeling as shown, then cutting the segments between the membranes. Or simply peel and slice as I did, then quartered.

It’s your choice.

One trick to this salad looking so beautifully on your plate, whether you place it in a large bowl or individual plates, toss the greens with the dressing, reserving a little for the fruit and carefully topping the salad with the avocado and grapefruit. I also added freshly ground pepper on top!

 

Grapefruit and Avocado Cabbage Slaw

Need a colorful salad for your table? Making this refreshing salad with it's grapefruit dressing can make everyone happy!

Servings 4 servings
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh spinach, shredded
  • 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded savoy cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 grapefruit peeled, cut in segments
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked

Grapefruit Dressing

  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup white white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups light sesame oil or ( 1/2 sesame oil and 1/2 EVOO)
  • 2 teaspoons grapefruit zest

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl toss together the spinach, cabbages, red onion, and 3/4 the vinaigrette.

  2. Peel the avocado and add to a small bowl. Toss with remaining 1/4 dressing.

  3. Arrange the avocado on top of the cabbage salad along with the grapefruit segments and cracked black peppercorns.

Dressing

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the grapefruit juice, zest, vinegar,1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.

  2. Slowly, whisk in the oil until blended smoothly. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

  3. Just before serving, top with the sliced grapefruit, avocado, and fresh cracked pepper.

Bring this salad to your next party and you’ll make a big hit!

Enjoy,

Mary 

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Post image for Heirloom Tomato Salad with Potatoes and Olives

When it’s the season for heirloom tomatoes, you must run to your famer’s market and pick up a few of these oversized tomatoes for this recipe. I wait all season to grow these in my garden. So, I consider them such a gem! They are usually larger than regular tomatoes, so I would use 2-4 tomatoes for this dish, according to the number of servings.

Select colors unique such as green, brown, orange varieties to give a this salad a pop! Adding the ruby gold potatoes makes this salad a complete meal. Don’t pass on the on the addition of the capers, olives and red onion as they bring unique complementary Mediterranean flavors. With a touch of oregano and  extra virgin olive oil, you have a simple but delicious healthy salad.

Melissa’s Produce sent me winter heirloom tomatoes called Santa Sweets! The color of these tomatoes are beyond describing! They are plump and filled with a sweet juice. This salad can be ahead and dressed right before serving. With the addition of steamed red or white small potatoes, it becomes a fulfilling meal. Both the tomatoes and potatoes can be ordered from their website at Melissa’s Produce.

You can steam, boil, or roast the potatoes for your desired flavor. I found by steaming them, they held together better.

Don’t forget to check Melissa’s Produce for their seasonal produce of the month.

Any way you choose to cut this beauties , I think this cut which is in quarters or smaller shows off this these terrific vegetables.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Potatoes and Olives

Serve this colorful and hearty salad with heirloom tomatoes in season.

Course Salad
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword capers, evoo, heirloom tomatoes, olives, potatoes, salad
Servings 4 servings
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 12 ruby gold potatoes or potato of your choice
  • 2 green heirloom tomatoes, quartered (or smaller)
  • 2 red heirloom tomatoes, quartered (or smaller)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, as needed

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes if leaving skins on. Cook in simmering salted water or steamed until tender, about 25-40 minutes, done when easily pierced with a knife.

  2. Drain the potatoes, and return to the pot. Place the pot over low heat and let the potatoes dry stirring potatoes. Remove and cool.

  3. Quarter or slice the potatoes and place in a salad bowl or platter.

  4. Add the quartered or sliced tomatoes, onion, capers, oregano and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to combine. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

  5. Serve the salad at room temperature. Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.

Check out my other salads below:

Arugula with Tomatoes, Watermelon and Feta Salad

Tomatoes  Al Greco

Enjoy this simply made meal,

Mary 

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Post image for Lamb Ribs Poached in Olive Oil with Blood Oranges and Beets

Lamb ribs poached in olive oil may be a new cooking technique for most of you, but trust me once you have a bite of these moist succulent lamb ribs, you will use this method for many other dishes. Poaching is a term used to cook a meat, fish or vegetable at a very low temperature, usually 160-185 degrees to infuse seasonings into the dish. This can be done with water, wine, broth or olive oil. The lamb ribs are simply prepared with a few spices and fresh herbs. I used rosemary and garlic, but you can substitute thyme with shallots, fresh sliced lemons with dill, or combinations of your choice.

I do prefer a fresh vibrant extra virgin olive oil, for it does impart some flavor to your meat or vegetables. Milder olive oils can be used for your more delicate foods such as shellfish, fish or vegetables. For the lamb ribs, I used a robust and pungent  Spanish Garcia de la Cruz Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is available online at their website.  This is their certified early harvest, organic certified winning oil. If you would like to purchase a bottle of this incredible oil they are offering it at a 10% discount if you use this code: 10CALIFORNIAGREEK and place the order at their online store HERE. This is only valid through February 28th.

Other Products from Garcia de la Cruz.

Organic Balsamic Vinegar in go-to packs.

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in go-to packs.

 

 

Lamb Ribs Poached in Olive Oil

Poaching in olive oil may be a new cooking technique for you, but it makes your meat and vegetables tender and flavorful. These ribs are so moist, they will be gone in no time. Serve with a vegetable of your choice or the salad below.

Course Main Course
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword lamb ribs
Servings 4
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 8 lamb ribs (2 per person)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red peppercorns or black pepper
  • 2-4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. The temperature needs to be low so the oil doesn't heat up.

  2. Wash and pat dry the ribs. Salt the ribs. Add to a large baking dish so there is no overlapping.

  3. Add the red peppercorns, fresh rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves.

  4. Pour the olive oil in the dish, covering half way up the ribs and place in the oven.

  5. After 20 minutes, turn the chops over to continue baking. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven, check the ribs, the temperature should read 140 degrees for medium rare or continue cooking until 160 degrees. Remove and pat dry on a paper towel before serving.

As you noticed here, I added a compound butter here for added flavor for this special dinner. I used an organic butter, with roasted red pepper and Kalamata olives. I loved the addition, but it is quite decadent. You can omit it if you would like, the chops are delicious on their own.

When I developed this recipe for this post, the theme was a Valentine’s Day dinner/dessert using Melissa’s Produce. I selected the two main ingredients in the salad because in the Greek cuisine we our love beets and oranges. I grow both of these in my garden so I always have them available to cook with. The beets are steamed from Melissa’s, but you can use fresh beets and roast them as well. Blood oranges are also from Melissa’s produce and are currently in season. This salad is a typical Greek salad and goes beautifully with the lamb ribs above. Adding Greek feta, walnuts and red onions gave it the final touch it needed for a very nutrient -dense meal.

The olive oil in the dressing is from the Organic Spanish olive oil from  Garcia de la Cruz Olive Oils.

 

Blood Orange and Beet Salad

Beets come in many colors and this is the time to use them in this salad. Roast your beets or buy them already steamed from Melissa's Produce. This is when you use your favorite extra virgin olive oil for dressing the salad. I used Garcia de la Cruz extra virgin olive oil and their Balsamic Vinegar for this recipe.

Course Salad
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword beet salad
Servings 8
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 8 beets, green tops trimmed or Melissa's Produce steamed beets
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 40 blood orange segments, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, julienne
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnut, halves
  • 1 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Place the beets in a baking sheet, add about 1/4 inch of water, and cover tightly with foil. Roast the beets until tender, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, and slip off their skins. Cut the beets into quarters. ( I use a paper towel to clean skins.)

  3. Blend together the olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Toss the beets in the dressing while they are still warm.

  4. Add the oranges, red onion and walnuts to the beets in a serving platter and serve. Or for individual servings, divide the beets into portions add 5 oranges per plate, top with onions and walnuts. Sprinkle feta on top.

Here is the recipe for the Red Pepper and Kalamata Olive compound butter I used in this recipe. It’s up to you, you can use all the ingredients or just a few. Experiment with different spices and herbs.

Red Pepper and Olive Compound Butter

Try this on any meat as an added punch to your dish, or use it on a toasted slice of fresh bread. How special is that?

Servings 1 roll
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoon finely minced roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Kalamata olives, minced

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Roll the butter in a plastic wrap to form a 1x3 inch cylinder. Refrigerate.

If you are interested in other recipes using olive oil,  check my category Everything Olive Oil.

More Olive Oil Recipes On My Blog:

Olive Oil Poached Eggplant 

Mushrooms Poached in Olive Oil 

Leeks Poached in Olive Oil

If you’re interested in learning more about olive oil history, how to buy, store and cook with olive oil you may enjoy my cookbook,

“Cooking Techniques with Olive Oil”

Buy here!

 

These products were donated by Garcia de la Cruz and Melissa’s Produce, for a Valentine contest. These are my original recipes and my content.

Enjoy your Special Dinner,

Mary

 

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Post image for 7th Year of Greek Dinner Around the World

This is our 7th year celebrating an idea created virtually by three friends. Katie Aliferis, Keri Douglas, and myself. The idea was to try and preserve the Greek Arts through social media and celebrate one day a year. And that day is January 15th.

Keri Douglas was the founder, and she has written a post on her blog that helps define her philosophy on this project. You can find her post here.
I copied a portion of her blog post to explain what you can do on this day of celebration. These were the original ideas, but now they have grown to simply enjoying your day by reading a Greek novel and/or Greek poetry, listening to Greek music, dancing to a Greek band, watching a Greek movie or simply visiting with your family.

The dinner party rules are simple:

  • Promise to host a dinner party at home or a local Greek restaurant.
  • Share your story.
  • Connect with others.
  • Introduce new partners to the dinner party.
  • Share and promote others.
  • Be inspired.
  • If you are able, purchase a Greek item from a Greek in Greece or purchase something Greek in your own town.

We have never met as a group but only virtually through emails and social media. I received a message from Keri Douglas, from Washington D.C. to assist in making this a special day for Greek Culture. After several meetings I agreed to celebrating our Greek Heritage. Not to long after that we asked a wonderful Greek writer to join us from the Bay area, Katie Aliferis , and from that day on we were joined at the hip.

Katie Aliferis, above. To learn more about Katie, visit Keri Douglas’s site: 9 Muses News.

Later in the years, I did have the opportunity to meet Katie at a food show in San Francisco. We instantly became friends over the years, as we continue to share twitter posts. I have not yet met Keri Douglas, but I always feel she’s in my home year around with her spirit.

Keri Douglas, above. Keri writes a blog called 9 Muses News.  Her blog features posts on New Trends on Art, Business and Science.

Together, we all have the passion to share our Greek ideas and knowledge with people around the world, and this has grown to thousands of viewers.  You can find us on Twitter at #GreekDinnerAroundtheWorld.

Hopefully, in the near future we can meet and enjoy each other’s love for Greece and her Arts, and you never know it might just be on January 15th!

Love to All,

Mary

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Chewy Hachiya Persimmon Cookies

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Chewy Hachiya Persimmon Cookies

Hachiya Persimmons are a Fall sweet honey-like fruit making the perfect cookie for a tea or an afternoon treat!

There are many types of persimmons on the market but these are made with this particular variety. The heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons are astringent, meaning they are very high in plant chemicals called tannins that give the unripe fruit a dry, bitter taste. This type of persimmon needs to be fully ripe before eating. This persimmon can be found at your local stores.  The Hachiya and more varieties are available at Melissa’s Produce.

The fruit is eaten when very soft, with a jelly-like touch. The pulp should also look like jelly when cut open, and pureed with a blender until smooth. Add them to your baked goods such as cookies and cakes. The pulp can also be pureed or blended and added to drinks, made into a fruit sauce, or made into puddings. When soft and ready to eat, place it the refrigerator until ready for use. Don’t forget to simple dig into your persimmon with a spoon for pure enjoyment!

Hachiya Persimmon are longer and “heart-shaped” variety of the persimmon family. They are originally from Japan and China, but today are grown in California. They were grown for thousands of years for their delicious fruit and beautiful wood. The smaller shorter persimmon are called Fuyu, and can be sliced and eaten fresh. They also can be used for baking or candied.

What are the Health Benefits of Persimmons? There are many!

  • They are loaded with nutrients, mostly vitamin A and C and many others.
  • They contain Powerful Antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Diets rich in these compounds have been linked to a reduced risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
  • They are Heart-Healthy – Persimmons contain flavonoid antioxidants and tannins, which benefit heart health by reducing blood pressure, lowering inflammation and decreasing cholesterol levels.
  • Persimmons are rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, which helps lower inflammation, a common cause of many diseases.
  • Fiber-rich foods like persimmons can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar levels and keep your digestive system healthy.

Feel free to eat them alone, they hold up as a chewy spicy cookie. Add a simple sugar icing if you would like a fancier cookie. ( 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup lemon  or orange juice). Just mix and drizzle on top of each cookie.

I can guarantee you cannot eat just one!

 

 

 

Chewy Hachiya Persimmon Cookies

Make these for a tea or for friends dropping by, enjoy their unique flavor.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cookies
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1 cup Hachiya persimmon pulp
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

  3. In a medium bowl, beat white and brown sugar, and butter until smooth. Mix in egg. Stir in the persimmon.

  4. Add the persimmon mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined well.

  5. Stir in walnuts and raisins.

  6. Drop dough by teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet.

  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

You may also be interested in other persimmons varieties from Melissa’s Produce.

 

From left to right:  Organic Sweet Pumpkin Persimmon, Fuyu Persimmon, Cinnamon Persimmon.

 

Don’t let the cookie monster near these cookies!

Best in Health,

Mary 

 

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Post image for My Number One Recipe on my Blog “Vasilopita”

For the past several years Vasilopita is my number one recipe on my blog! I bet most of you have never heard of this cake-like bread. It’s a Greek  traditional family recipe, made for the New Year. There are actually two types of breads that are baked during this time, but I find this one a bit easier to make. The other recipe is a New Year’s Bread made with yeast which happens to take 2 days to assemble. Many years I have traded off making both for my family. Here is the recipe for New Year’s Bread. One thing to remember about this recipe is not to forget the coin, that is placed in the raw dough before baking. I suggest you have it out and wrapped and ready to go before baking. The cutting can be done at the table and once you cut a piece for the House and the Lord, select the pieces for the family, and the person with the coin will have good luck for the year!

Let’s Get Started!

I’m always the baker that likes to organize all my ingredients ahead of time, for the ease of cooking. In cooking school this is called, Mise en Place, everything in place.

Once everything is ready, grease your pan the 12×3 inch round pan used in this recipe. We use this size so we have enough pieces for the entire family and guests. The pan can be found at any nearby baking shop such as Michaels. This is by Wilton.

Just wrap the coin you have chosen in wax paper before adding to the batter.

For this recipe head over to New Year’s Cake Vasilopita

Place the coin on the bottom and pour in the batter. Mix the batter and place in the pan.

Once baked cut out numbers or decorate with pearls, icing, or candy.

Add any decorations and your done. Here I added gold glitter around the edges.

Enjoy the party and good luck in getting the coin!

This is last year’s cake, we haven’t cut ours yet this year.

 

For the recipe head over to New Year’s Vasilopita!

 

Enjoy the New Year, and May God Bless You!

Mary 

 

For more Traditional Recipes take a look under my category: Traditional Greek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Greek Escarole Soup with Orzo

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Greek Escarole Soup with Orzo

Escarole soup is my favorite new weeknight meal. Bitter greens are important in the Greek Diet, and I do have many recipes using greens on my blog. Growing up in a Greek home, my mother served them weekly as a side dish or in soups. Bitter greens are packed with nutritional value often included in the common Mediterranean region. Why are they called bitter? The bitterness comes from a chemical called gluosinolates. Many of these greens are members of the Brassica family, also know as cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and kale. Many of these greens can be found today at your local supermarket and farmer’s market. They are used in many green drinks for their high nutrient value.

Below are a few examples of bitter greens you can cook with. Add them to your soups and stews, saute with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or add them to any quiche or egg-like dish.

Escarole This green is leafier than kale, and is usually sold in bunches that look a lot like a head of lettuce, with short, wide, wavy-edged leaves. The color and texture of the leaves varies—those on the outside are darker-green and a bit tougher, while the interior leaves are pale-yellow and more tender.

Dandelion Greens – Dandelions are similar to chicory, with a slight resemblance to curly endive. The rich distinctive flavor offered by this common green is slightly bitter, but appetizing, and somewhat sharper than collard greens or spinach.

Kale- My favorite kale, the type I grow in my winter garden. This kale is packed with nutrients, though it cooks much quicker then curly kale and is much more subtle as a flavor additive when used in soups or stews.

Collard Greens – These greens are traditionally boiled until very soft with a smoked hock or a piece of salt pork. Producing paddle-like, oval deep green, substantial chewy leaves, collard greens offer an assertive flavor that lies somewhere between cabbage and kale.

Let’s Get Started on the Escarole Soup!

Escarole is a very delicate green, with many colorful curly leaves.

Wash the greens in cold water. Roughly chop the greens.

Finely chop one red onion.

Heat a dutch oven or deep pot, add olive oil and saute onions until softened. (Excuse my old soup spoon,  I love it!)

Add the water and salt and cook until soft for around 20 minutes.

Add the precooked pasta to the soup. Reheat if necessary.

You may also want to add a squeeze of fresh lemon and grated cheese to your soup.

Greek Escarole Soup with Orzo

A nutritional weeknight soup with less than 6 ingredients! Delish!

Course Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword pasta, escarole, soup
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head escarole, washed and roughly chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup dried orzo or pasta
  • 1/2 grated Vegan Cheese, Parmesan or Pecorino
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot, add olive oil and chopped red onion and saute until onion is softened.

  2. Add the chopped escarole and salt and saute coating greens with oil.

  3. Add the water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce and cover to a simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

  5. Meanwhile cook the pasta and drain. Add to the soup.

  6. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

  7. Serve with grated cheese and a squeeze of lemon.

A big thank you to Melissa’s Produce for the beautiful escarole.

This recipe was inspired by “Coming Home to Sicily, authored by Fabrizia Lanza.

You may want to try more of my recipes using greens:

Dandelion with Lemons and Olive Oil

Grilled Lamb Chops with Greens

Greek Grilled Whole Fish with Greens

Enjoy this beautiful winter soup,

Mary 

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