Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Greek Standbys

Sciabica's rich Sevillano Variety Fall Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil makes these Greek standbys sing with full flavor.  Both the tzatziki yogurt/cucumber sauce, and the chopped Horiatiki salad depend on a good oil for proper taste. 

Shown in the photo:  tzatziki (cucumber sauce with garlic and mint), roasted meatballs, rice pilaf with almonds and dried fruit, horiatiki salad (Greek chopped vegetable salad with Feta cheese and olives), and pita bread. 

Greek Standbys
by Maurita

2 cups plain yogurt  
1 English cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded 
1 teaspoon coarse salt 
1 Tablespoon lemon juice 
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1/4 cup high-quality olive oil  (I used Sciabica's Sevillano Variety Fall Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil.)

Drain the yogurt:  line a colander with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth, add the yogurt, and let drain for 30 minutes. 

Sprinkle the cucumber halves with salt, and let drain 10 minutes.  Pat dry, then slice very thinly. 

Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic, and dill.  Beat in the oil, adding it slowly, then stir in the sliced cucumbers. 

Tzatziki is a traditional accompaniment to the baked meatballs shown below.  It's good as a dip with pita, but also good as a salad dressing, or as a substitute for Tartar sauce served with broiled or grilled fish. 

Roasted Greek Meatballs:
1/2 pound ground lamb 
1/2 pound ground beef round
1 small onion, minced 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400˚F.  Mix all ingredients together, using a light hand.  Form 8 oval meatballs, place in a shallow roasting pan, and roast, uncovered, 15-20 minutes, until just cooked through.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.  Good hot or at room temperature, excellent with Tzatziki.

Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Fruit:
1 Tablespoon olive oil 
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 cups cooked rice (a great use for leftover rice)
1/2 cup dried fruit (your choice; I used slivered dried apricots and raisins) 
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac or za'atar

Heat oil in a skillet, then add almonds, and pan-roast until the almonds begin to take on color.  Add the cooked rice and dried fruit, toss to combine, and continue to heat, until hot throughout.  Season with Aleppo pepper and ground sumac. 

Horiatiki salad (Greek chopped salad with feta and olives) 
Specific items and proportions are left to your individual taste.  We prefer to use combinations of: 

Bell pepper, red, green, yellow, or a mixture, coarsely chopped
Tomatoes - if cherry tomatoes, halved.  If the big August beauties, coarsely chopped 
Cucumber - peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
Onion - red or a sweet yellow, chopped 
Feta cheese, coarsely chopped
Olives, whole or halved (pitted Kalamatas are the best to use here) 
fresh oregano, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped

Mix all the vegetables well. Add olives and feta, and mix again. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, and drizzle with a high-quality olive oil. 

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