Let’s Cook Greek

greek-recipesGreek food can be both extremely tasty as well as a healthy alternative to daily fast food diets. Mirroring its rich architecture and history, Greek cuisine is nothing short of iconic. Experiencing different cultures through food is a great way to expand your horizons and give the family something different. Below are some recipes that you can try to help spice things up a bit.

If you are in the mood to cook Mediterranean food or experience the Greek way of life through their cuisine, you can try this classic appetizer Moussaka, one of the most widely recognized Greek dishes. It can be served as both an appetizer or as part of the main course.

Ingredients you will need:

4 lbs. eggplants
1 lb. potato
2 large onions (finely chopped)
1 and 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup tomato (pureed)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups breadcrumbs
8 egg white (lightly beaten)
1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce

1 cup butter (salted)
1 cup flour
4 cups milk (warm)
8 egg-yolk (lightly beaten)
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Directions

Start off by peeling the eggplants partially (leaving stripes of 1 inch wide peels around the eggplant). Slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices. Then salt the eggplants generously to get rid of the bitterness. Put it in a colander to remove excess water and cover it properly. It’s best to leave it for an hour but if you are in a hurry, you can let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the eggplants are in the colander, peel the potatoes and bring them to a boil. When the potatoes are slightly done remove from heat, drain the water and slice into 1/4 inches.

Add a splash of water to the egg-whites and lightly beat them. Next, rinse the eggplants and dry with a paper towel. Dip them in the egg mixture and coat all the eggplants with breadcrumbs.

Spread the eggplants on two lightly greased baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. Put them inside a preheated oven and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn each of the eggplants and bake for another 15 minutes.

In a large pan, fry the ground beef until the pink flesh turns brown. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent and fragrant (It will take you about 5 to 6 minutes). Next add wine and the rest of the spices (parsley, tomato paste, cinnamon, allspice, tomato puree and sugar). Let it simmer for 15 minutes. When it turns dry and chunky add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

For the Bechamel Sauce melt butter at low heat. Add flour to the butter while whisking continuously until it turns into a smooth paste. Add warm milk to the mixture. Simmer over low heat until it thickens. Lastly, add a pinch of nutmeg and stir in the egg yolk . Return the mixture to heat and stir it until it thickens to a creamy consistency.

To assemble the Moussaka, sprinkle breadcrumbs on a lightly greased lasagna pan. Place a layer of the sliced potato on it. Then layer it with the eggplants. Add meat sauce and shredded cheese on top of it. Repeat the previous steps with another layer of eggplants. Lastly, pour the Bechamel sauce over it. Top it off with shredded Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Greek Cream Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

It’s an easy dish that is commonly served as the main course. It’s made with common kitchen ingredients and it’s a great way to add a foreign flavor to your regular chicken dish. It is loved by many for its creamy texture and nostalgic Greek flavors.

Ingredients

6 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
8 ounce whipped cream cheese
3/4 cup crumpled feta cheese
1 tomato (diced)
6 ounce black olives (chopped)
1/4 onion (chopped)
1/4 cup spinach (chopped)

In a bowl mix tomato, olives, feta cheese, cream cheese, onion and spinach to make a cream mixture. Cut each chicken breast from one side in the middle and spread it open. Take a spoonful of the cream mixture and spread it on one side of the chicken breast. Fold each of the chicken breasts and secure them nicely.

Preheat an outdoor grill on medium high heat and lightly grease the gates. Place the secured chicken breasts on an aluminum foil. Cook them on the grill for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat when the center is no longer pink, or when the juices are running clear. If you use an instant read thermometer then check the temperature of the meat in the center, it should give a reading of 165 degrees. Serve fresh with a glass of wine.

Video Recipe

Here is an additional recipe that you can try. This video demonstrates how you can prepare tradition Greek stuffed tomatoes in your kitchen.