In the mood for Greek food, I hope
I went to Chapters the other day - BIG MISTAKE! Once again, I spent way too much time there pouring over a multitude of cookbooks. I bought uhhh...several. I couldn't decide which one to leave behind. Finally, I decided to put the Michael Chiarello cookbook down - the recipes looked too complicated or rather, impractical for a home kitchen. I just wanted it because the book was so darn beautiful! Anyway, upon my return home, I reluctantly showed my husband what I had purchased. He was exasperated! "More cookbooks? Couldn't you just buy one, then go back another day?" I reminded him that I actually use them...Not like some close family members I know, who buy cookbooks but read them in place of novels before bedtime..lol...
"Ahh, I don't know what to make...its always the same thing."
"Why don't you try a recipe from one of your cookbooks? Hey, where are they!!?", I ask , searching the kitchen.
"Oh, on my bedroom nightstand" they reply brightly.
"Oh, wonderful... great place" lol
I can't totally fault them for that. Food can be riveting...I know, I love reading about food too.
However, you should always try a couple of recipes from each cookbook you buy.
Around the Greek Table
One of the cookbooks I bought is "Around the Greek Table", written by 3 sisters, Betty , Eleni and Samantha Bakopoulos. This cookbook was voted "Best in the World" by Gourmand, the World Cookbook Awards. I thought "Wow, best in the world, hu?" I also happen to LOVE Greek food so I bought it.
I had my family over for supper so I decided on this rice recipe. I chose it because when I read the ingredients, it reminded me of Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) - the spinach, the dill, the feta...SOLD!!!!
The dill is what makes all the difference. Who knew it married so well with Spinach and Feta?? (Besides the Greeks, that is.) It was a recent discovery for me anyway.
When I served this, everyone wanted seconds and even thirds...some wanted to save some for their lunch the next day! Needless to say this tasty dish will make several come-backs in my kitchen and hopefully in yours as well.
Oh yeah! Another reason I love this cookbook is because they give you the Greek name and the pronunciation for each recipe. This one is Spanakorizo (Spah-nah-koh-ree-zoh).
Spinach & Dill Rice
1 Bunch (500g) of fresh spinach leaves, washed, larger stalks removed - I found my 500g bag at Costco.
2 Tbsp of Olive oil
1 Yellow onion
Pinch of salt
1Tbsp of chopped fresh dill
1 cup of Arborio rice
2 cups of water
1tsp of salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil for drizzling
Crumbled Feta cheese (Optional) - I thought, "what?? Optional?? Why???"
4 lemon wedges
Cut the spinach in half and set aside
Heat the olive oil in a heavy suacepan over medium heat. Add the onions and the pinch of salt
Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add all of the spinach to the pan, a handful at a time and saute.
Add the dill , rice, 2 cups of water and the 1 tsp of salt.
Bring to a boil
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the water is absorbed, about 20 min. If the rice is not tender and fluffy at this point, add more hot water and continue simmering.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the lemon juice and drizzle with some olive oil
Serve warm or even at room temperature (I prefer warm).
Top with some Feta cheese and garnish with a lemon wedge just before serving.
Voila! That's it and you've got a hit!
By the way, now that I posted this - I will pull out my bag 2nd pack of spinach to make another batch! Who's coming over?
Note: They list the Feta as "optional", which I understand, if you don't like feta or are cutting calories. However, if you buy Greek Feta, it adds a wonderful creamy texture and another dimension of flavour. You can always add the Feta for the guests who want it. Try not to omit - It goes so well with warm rice. Comfort food at its best.
Greek Feta is more expensive than Canadian, but the quality really shows in its texture - you wont need much. Canadian Feta (purchased by weight) is fine. Go to any "ethnic" friendly grocery store. I like to frequent Morilatos or Cavalaro Fine Foods for my Feta. If you must go the pre-packaged route, there are some Greek brands that you can try. Yes, Go Greek - DO NOT buy Saputo - its too salty and dry.