Saturday, October 11, 2008

Feasting Greek Style

So I finally got around to making a small Greek feast the other night. It's only been months since we have been back from that beautiful country but time flies huh.

As this is a food blog on with the food. I didn't make anything particularly difficult but I did try some things I had never made myself before. The most exciting being dolmades. Right off the bat I had a little challenge. How to get the grape leaves out of the damn jar. Upon inspection I realized the leaves are kind of rolled and put in the jar as a tube so they are only coming out as one unit. So there was some dumping the brine, some squeezing shimmying and out they came.
8oz jar grape leaves
4 Tb olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup rice
1 cup vegetable stock
juice of one lemon
2 Tb pine nuts, chopped
1 Tb fresh dill, chopped
1 Tb fresh mint, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed

Rinse the vine leaves in warm water, pat dry. You want to pick out 24 leaves without rips or missing bits. Cut off any stems that are still attached. Do not toss out the extra leaves, you'll still use those.
Heat 1 Tb olive oil in pan over medium heat and cook onion until soft. Add rice and toast for 30 seconds or so. Add veg stock and half of the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in pine nuts, dill & mint.
Lay out your 24 vine leaves, shiny side down. Divide filling evenly among them, about 1 rounded Tb per leaf, at the base of each leaf. Fold in the sides of each leaf then roll up. Line the base of a heavy pan with some of the extra grape leaves then fill the pan with the dolmades. Pack them together or they might come open during cooking. Mix the remaining oil, lemon juice and garlic and spoon over dolmades. Add enough water to the pan to cover then place an inverted plate on top to hold them down. Bring the water to a boil then cover, lower heat and simmer gently for about 1 hr. Towards the end of the hour, remove the lid and let the water evaporate. Remove from heat and allow the dolmades to cool.
Store in the fridge until ready to serve (remove a little early if you don't want them so chilled, I like them at room temperature). You can use extra grape leaves to decorate your serving plate.

I made skordalia (a potato & garlic dip/spread) and melitzanosalata (an eggplant salad/dip). The skordalia needs some work but the melizanosalata was delicious.
1 lb eggplant
1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tb lemon juice

1 Tb olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pierce eggplant with a fork several times and roast in the oven for about 1 hr. Eggplant should look deflated and skin should blacken a bit. Scoop out the pulp and combine with remaining ingredients, mashing eggplant with a fork to create a creamy texture. To create a completely smooth dip use a food processor, stick to a fork for more texture.

We had a chickpea salad at our first meal in Athens. It was awesome. Simple, cool, a sprinkling of large salt crystals. Yum.
Chickpea Salad
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

1 small cucumber, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 cup black olives, chopped

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 Tb olive oil

1 Tb balsamic vinegar

1 Tb fresh thyme or oregano (or blend of both)

freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients except black pepper in large bowl. Toss to mix & coat everything in oil & balsamic. Season with fresh pepper to taste.

At every meal you have bread, so perfect for sopping up that beautiful green fresh olive oil. Usually it was white bread although wheat bread seems to be making more frequent appearances these days. The older ladies of the village will still think you strange for wanting whole meal bread. I served this with some fresh wheat oregano olive rolls.


Amey said...

NICE post!!
wow. that greek feast looks totally amazing. I've never made dolmades, but I sure enjoy eating them. It looks like a great menu... maybe I'll give it a try and copy you! :)

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen said...

Oh yum, thank you for the recipes!

Celine said...

I'd invite myself over if I could. not difficult, if you say so, but totally impressive it is!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Talk about a nice dinner! Thanks for sharing all the recipes - gotta try it all!

Jeni Treehugger said...

WOWZERS! Total greek feast.
I've always wanted to make Dolmades and your blog has inspired me. Good to know about getting the Vine leaves out the jar!
have you ever tried saganaki (spellin??)it's fried cheese but I have discovered that Tofu sliced thinly and marinated in Water, Nooch, Soy Sauce, Sage, Italian Herbs, Onion Powder, diced Garlic and then rolled in Wholemeal Flour, Nooch, Onion Powder, crushed Garlic and then fried taste soooo much like this.

Lisa -- Cravin' Veggies said...

Yummy! Great job!

Carrie said...

wow it all looks so amazing!! Great job. The bread is calling to me....

I've not had much greek food in my life, but you have inspired me to try more recipes out. :)

...barbara... said...

greek greet great.....
remember that game?...change one letter at a time...
so fitting....

VeganView said...

OMG!!! I call them by the not so sophisticated "grape leaves" but all the same. I really should try making my own...whole foods charging 9.99 a lb is getting a abit pricey for these delish little goods

Bex said...

jeni - that is awesome. I kept seeing saganaki but couldn't eat it. I'll try that, it sounds awesome.

Anonymous said...

Yum! Everything looks delicious, but the dolmas and eggplant dip look especially good. I actually was like "I must make that eggplant thing immediately!" and then went to my fridge only to discover my eggplant and gone bad. Sigh.

Ginger said...

wow! that looks good! i may have to try that soon, thanks!

allularpunk said...

this all looks amazing (i can't believe you made your own stuffed grape leaves!), but i am truly a sucker for bread and those wheat oregano olive rolls look just perfect.

Anonymous said...

OMG - What an amazing greek feast! I love dolmades and everything greek, thank you for all the recipes and ideas!

aTxVegn said...

What a feast! I love the whole menu, and esp. that chickpea salad!

Renae said...

Everything looks great; I've been wanting to make dolmades, thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Great Greek feast! I'm super impressed by your dolmades.

Erin said...

What a delicious feast! Everything looks so delicious. They sell jarred grapeleaves at my favorite falafel joint and I was always tempted to buy them.

pixiepine said...

That all looks soooo delicious!!

Bethany said...

wow, that looks amazing! yummy. I love skordalia and dolmas. Haven't had the other things.

I get tired from making a couple of things per day. I salute you for having the energy to make a full feast!