I offered to make dinner for a colleague (new friend) who is currently working in Boston (she lives in Dubai). Her friend also joined us before she flew back to the UK after a week’s vacation to our lovely city.
Now, I could have gone with Shepherd’s Pie or something equally British but I decided to go a different route and put on a little Greek feast.
Here is my fun and very simple dinner menu for five girlies – 2 American and 3 Brits!!
Oh, and as my friend Laurie is a “vegetarian” at the moment and apparently ruining Kathleen’s life, I thought I would make an extra vegetarian dish of veggie moussaka. I basically substituted the lamb with zucchini and lentils. As a side note, we have no idea why Laurie being a vegetarian is ruining Kathleen’s life, but it is amusing to all of us.
Cooking preparations started around noon as I thought I would get a head start and to allow me to do other chores like laundry and the run I had to do because I have a 10K coming up and I can barely do a 1K right now. I am so out of shape – well, I am a lot out of shape at the moment. So, Il Divo on the in the background as loud as I think my neighbors could handle without banging my door down, I started with the lentil preparation and Baklava. Fun times :).
I have to say the veggie moussaka was really very very good. So good, you would not know that it was even veggie if you were not told. Even if I do say so myself :).
Greek Night Menu
Greek Salad with Pita
This salad is so colorful it can brighten up any dinner menu. You can also use any dressing you want, I just happen to love this red wine, olive oil and oregano as it gives a great tang to the dish and who doesn’t love wine with everything.
3 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ cucumber, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup Kalamata black olives
Several sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, about 1/2 cup
½ pound Greek feta
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 red wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano
Salt and black pepper
Combine vegetables, olives, and parsley in a large bowl. Rest sliced feta on the top of salad. Combine oil, vinegar, and oregano in a small plastic container or dressing jar and shake well. Pour over salad and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and let the salad marinate until ready to serve.
Serve salad with pita bread.
I found this recipe years ago in an old magazine. It is all crumpled and falling apart but I just kept it in my recipe folder as a favorite. I have tweaked it a little and have found you can substitute lamb for ground turkey when in a pinch and can’t find ground lamb – although lamb is better of course and far more Greek than Turkey.
2lbs peeled baking potato, cut into slices
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic gloves
1lbs ground lamp
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
¼ ground pepper
½ cup flat parsley
1 cup 1% milk
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add one-third of potato slices to pan; cook until lightly browned each side (about 3 mins). Transfer potatoes to bowl. Repeat with remaining potatoes
Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic and lamb to pan; cook until browned (about 3-4 mins). Add bell peppers, tomato source, salt cumin, pepper and parsley, cook 10 minutes.
Arrange half of potatoes slices in a 13×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange lamb mixture over potatoes; top with remaining potato slices. Combine milk and eggs in a bowl; pour over potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand.
For the vegetarian
Ingredients instead of lamb
1 tbs of white vinegar
1 can chopped tomatoes
½ can of lentils
Saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, ½ the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
Layer the dish the same way you would as the lamb Moussaka.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
This is easy Baklava because I use frozen phyllo dough. I mean why make it when you can just buy it and it’s great. I loved to bake as a teenager but the thought of making phyllo always stressed me out. This is easy, even if it is cheating a little.
As a side note, I am highly allergic to cinnamon. A lot of these recipes call for it but I just ignore or it or substitute brown sugar for little more sweetness.
1 cup unsalted butter
½ (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
2 cups chopped pecans
1 ½ tablespoons whole cloves
1 ½ cups water
11/3cup white sugar
1 tbs of brown sugar
1 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter over low heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of the butter into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Layer 3 sheets of the phyllo dough in the pan. Trim dough to fit. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of pecans over the phyllo dough. Layer 3 more sheets of dough, brush generously with the melted butter, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of pecans. Continue dough -butter- pecan layers until pan is 3/4 full.
With a sharp knife, score phyllo dough to form diamonds. Press a clove at each end of the diamonds or squares. Pour remaining butter over the dough.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the honey and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Pour honey mixture over hot baklava. Let cool on wire racks. Cut into diamonds.
Pour honey mixture over hot baklava. Let cool.