Pesto Greek Style!

Pesto is a fantastic herb sauce that can be used in many ways, but my favorite way of using it is in pasta. I always tend to have leftover pasta, so making a quick pesto to add more flavor and make a complete different dish the next day is the way to go.
Pesto is originally from Italy and usually is a combination of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. The way I have turned it into a Greek style pesto is by adding fresh Greek oregano, red pepper flakes and lemon juice.
The best way to make a pesto is using the most fresh ingredients! So this is what I did for my Greek style pesto:
– Ingredients –
1. Handful of fresh basil
2. Another small handful of fresh Greek Oregano
3. Juice from 1/2 a lemon
4. About 1/4 of a cup of pine nuts
5. 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
6. A punch of salt, pepper & red pepper flakes
7. 1 clove of fresh garlic
8. Olive oil

– Assembly –
1. Start by adding to a food processor the basil, oregano, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes. Blend them until everything gets chopped up evenly.
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2. Once everything gets chopped up nicely, while the processor is on, add a stream of olive oil until the mixture turns into a smooth sauce. It’s also a lot easier to mix into a pasta when it’s smoother and not chunky.
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– Last night we had made some manestra, which is orzo, and got a rotisserie chicken (which can be your best friend on weeknights, very useful in many recipes). So for a lovely lunch today, this pesto turned yesterdays pasta in a chicken pesto pasta dish for lunch today! Don’t ever think of left-overs just as that terms describes them. You can easily take yesterdays food into something different the next day. Don’t ever get rid of left-over food!
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Greek Pastichio

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Greek Pastichio is one of my favorite dishes and we make it very often in our house. I love when my mom makes us some pastichio and I learned everything for this dish from her.
Yes, many describe this dish as, “the Greek lasagna”, but we got a whole different flavor profile in this dish. Definitely give this a try, you will love it! To see this video demo of this visit my Youtube page & hit subscribe: DespinasGreekEats https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV66tHUqLHE
*Recipe*
– Ingredients for the bechamel sauce –
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
Salt, pepper & fresh nutmeg
– Ingredients for the ground beef filling –
1 lb ground beef
1 onion mined finely
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt, pepper & olive oil
– Ingredients for the pasta filling –
1/2 package of Pastichio pasta (if you cannot find, you can use penne)
6 eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt, pepper

*How to make the bechamel sauce*
1. In a pot melt the butter.
2. Add the flour slowly and once all is added keep stirring and cook for about 1 minute.
3. Add in the milk and stir until you get a slightly thick pouring consistency.
4. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper. Then grind in about 1/2 a tsp of fresh nutmeg.
*How to make the ground beef filling*
1. In a pan, pour about 1 tsp of olive oil and saute the onions until you start smelling them and they soften a little.
2. Add in the ground beef and cook until it browns.
3. Add in the tomato sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper and let the mixture cook down until there isn’t a lot of liquid left.
*How to make the pasta filling*
1. In a large pot, add water about 3/4 of the way up.
2. Once it boils, add a large pinch of salt.
3. Add the pasta in and cook for 11 minutes.
4. Strain the pasta and let it cool down for about 5 minutes.
5. Once the pasta has cooled slightly, add in the eggs, feta, a pinch of salt and pepper.
— Assembly —
1. In a baking dish, grease it and on the bottom add 4 sheets on filo dough.
2. Add the pasta filling over the filo dough.
3. Add the ground beef over the pasta.
4. Lastly, add the bechamel sauce as the top layer.
5. Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 50 minutes or until golden brown.

Greek Tiropita with Kataifi Pastry! (Cheese Pie)

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Now that Easter is getting close, my mom and I start thinking about what we are going to have for our dinner menu Easter Sunday. Yes, every single year we roast a whole lamb on the spit in our yard, but other than that we always have other delicious Greek dishes to go with the lamb. One of my favorites is Greek Tiropita, which is a cheese pie. Traditionally Tiropita is made with filo dough, but I have come to love making it with Kataifi pastry, which is shredded filo dough. It just brings another level of crunch to the Tiropita mixed with the creamy cheese filling. Definitely a must try and it will be a favorite dish on your dinner table. Give it a try!

Recipe:
– Ingredients –
2 1/2 cups of crumbled Feta cheese
1 1/2 cups of Greek Graviera, Kaseri or a you can use whatever salty cheese you like
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt
Pepper
Kataifi pastry or filo
1 cup melted butter

– Directions –
1. In a bowl, mix the feta, graviera, eggs, milk, salt and pepper together.
2. In a greased baking dish, place a layer of the Kataifi pastry on the bottom and brush well with melted butter.
3. Place all of the filling over that layer of pastry and take another bit of kataifi to cover all of the filling on top.
4. Brush the top layer of kataifi well with butter.
5. Bake at 400 degree for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.

Here’s also my demo video on how to make this! Subscribe to my YouTube channel DespinasGreekEats! -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPREoOzN4js

Chiffonade + Veggies = Spanakopita!

Chiffonade: knife technique that simply means to cut into long, slim strips *pictured below*. The reason I bring this up today is because this post will be all about the well known, Greek savory dish called Spanakopita (spinach pie)!

Chiffonade: knife technique that simply means to cut into long, slim strips *pictured below*. The reason I bring this up today is because this post will be all about the well known, Greek savory dish called Spanakopita (spinach pie)!

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Greek Spanakopita is a favorite for many Greeks. I grew up with my yiayia (grandmother) making Spanakopita and I have learned over all these years how to make a stunning spinach. The thing that makes our spanakopites the best (yes, I’m bragging), I think is the greens we put into it and of course quality feta cheese.
This recipe is very easy to assemble. The only thing that takes longest in honestly the preparation of the greens. We also put just a tablespoon of trahana. This is a dry grain, couscous like. We mainly put this into the spanakopita to help absorb any extra moisture. You should be able to find this at most international, Mediterranean stores or even online.

 

Preparation is very important. The spinach and leaks need to be cleaned and let to dry as much as possible. The best way to get the leaks cleaned, of all the dirt, is filling a large bowl with water, splitting them stalks either in half or in quarters, and letting them soak for at least 30 minutes. All the dirt will drop to the bottom of the bowl. The spinach should be cut using the chiffonade technique, the leaks should be cut thin, the parsley, dill and green onions should also be cut thin and even. The time you spend preparing and cooking, do it efficiently. All you need is mis en place! This is a French term meaning to have “everything in its place”. This is why preparation is so important. When it comes to putting it all together, it will be so much quicker.

Here’s the recipe:
– Ingredients –
About 10 cups of spinach *chiffonade*
2 leaks or about 2 cups
6 stalks of fresh green onions
1 cup of  fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
3 eggs
2 tbsp trahanas grain
3 cups of crumbled feta cheese (the feta that is still in it’s brine liquid is best)
Butter
Oil
Salt
Pepper
Filo pastry sheets
– Directions –
Preparation is very important. The spinach and leaks need to be cleaned and let to dry as much as possible. The best way to get the leaks cleaned, of all the dirt, is filling a large bowl with water, splitting them stalks either in half or in quarters, and letting them soak for at least 30 minutes. All the dirt will drop to the bottom of the bowl. The spinach should be cut using the chiffonade technique, the leaks should be cut thin, the parsley, dill and green onions should also be cut thin and even. The time you spend preparing and cooking, do it efficiently. All you need is mis en place! This is a French term meaning to have “everything in its place”. This is why preparation is so important. When it comes to putting it all together, it will be so much quicker.
1. Clean the greens and put them to dry.
2. Chop them in the forms I have spoken about above.
3.  Now for the assembly, add the spinach, leaks, green onions, parsley and dill in a large bowl and mix.
4. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl slightly and add them into the greens and mix.
5. Add the trahana, mix.
6. Add the feta cheese, mix.
7. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and mix it all thoroughly.
8. Keeping the filling aside, now it’s time to prepare the base.
9. Melt some butter and add some olive oil to it and keep it aside because you need it for the filo pastry.
10. In a baking dish or tray, using the butter/oil mixture, butter the dish well and begin adding a sheet of filo dough making sure it covers the bottom. With a silicon brush or regular one, brush some of the butter mixture on that piece of filo dough. Put another piece on top of that one and repeat until you have 4 sheets on the bottom.
11. Once you have that base, add a handful of the filling and then add 2-3 sheets on filo on top of the filing. Continue making these layers until the filling is finished. Make sure to always add butter between the layers of filo dough so they don’t get too dry.
12. Add a layer on 4 sheets of filo on the top and brush with the butter mixture.
13. In a preheated oven at 400 degrees, bake for 55-60 minutes or until the filo is golden brown and crispy.
14. Any questions? Email me at despinasgreekeats@gmail.com
15. You can also visit here for the link to my Youtube demo video for this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQfBVrtxOV4