My Big Fat Greek Party

Appetizers:

Greek Cucumber Noodles, recipe provided below (adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod)

Ingredients

  • 2 seedless English cucumbers
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons Sabra Classic Hummus
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Adjust the julienne blade on a mandoline to the 1/8-inch-thick setting. Carefully run a cucumber down the blade, slicing the cucumber to form noodles. Continue with the other cucumber. If you don't have a mandoline you can use a julienne peeler to make the noodles or a spiralizer.
  • Divide the cucumber noodles onto plates. Top with tomatoes, olives, and red onion. In the center of the noodles add a spoonful of hummus. Sprinkle feta cheese over the noodles. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Grilled Greek Pizza, recipe provided below (adapted from A Spicy Perspective)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pizza dough, homemade recipe (or buy if in a hurry)
  • 1 pound hummus, any variety
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 2/3 cup good pitted Greek olives
  • 2/3 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Drizzle of good olive oil

Directions:

  • Cut the dough in half. Then using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each piece of dough out into 12 inch circles. Place the dough circles on parchment paper. Lightly oil the tops and let them rest while the grill is heating.
  • Preheat the grill to high. Meanwhile prepare the pizza toppings.
  • One at a time, Flip the dough circles onto the grill. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side.
  • One both pizza crusts are grilled, spread 8 ounce of hummus on each crust. Then top both with fresh arugula, tomatoes, olives, feta and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve warm.

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Creamy Spanakopita Tarts, recipe provided below (adapted from With Salt and Wit)

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wringed out of all water
  • 6 oz fat free feta
  • 1 oz low fat cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 pkgs frozen mini phyllo tarts (total of 30 tarts)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add minced onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add spinach (make sure to wring out all excess water! It will make your filling watery) to onion mixture and stir well to break up any large pieces of spinach.
  • Add mixture to a mixing bowl. Add feta, cream cheese, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well until mixture is well combined.
  • On a baking sheet, add mini phyllo cups. Add a heaping tablespoon mixture into each tart.
  • Place in oven and bake for 10 -15 minutes, until mixture is heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

Main Course:

Greek Chicken Kebabs with Tzatziki Sauce, recipe provided below (adapted from Cooking Classy)

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 - 2 lbs bonless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for grill
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced into 1 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 small zucchini (nearly 1 lb), sliced into rounds slightly under 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 large red onion, diced into 1 1/4-inch wedges

Tzatziki Ingredients

  • 1 medium cucumber (about 8 oz), peeled, seeded and chopped into chunks*
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 (5.3 oz) containers plain Greek yogurt (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnishing kebabs
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: for the Kebabs:

  • In a bowl whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, coriander and season with salt and pepper to taste (I used 3/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper). Place chicken in a gallon size resealable bag, pour olive oil mixture over chicken and press chicken into marinade. Seal bag and refrigerate 45 minutes to 2 hours (no longer than 2 hours or the chicken will start to get mealy because of the acidic ingredients). If using wooden skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes.
  • Drizzle and toss veggies with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil (I just left them on the cutting board and tossed them) and season lightly with salt.
  • Preheat a grill over medium-high heat. Thread a red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, 2 chicken pieces on to skewer and repeat twice. Brush grill lightly with olive oil, place skewers on grill and grill until chicken registers 165 degrees in center, about 7 - 9 minutes, rotating once halfway through cooking. Garnish with parsley, serve warm with Tzatziki sauce. 

Directions For the Tzatziki:

  • Place diced cucumber in a mesh strainer or colander and sprinkle with salt, toss to evenly coat then allow to rest 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Rinse cucumbers and place over several layers of paper towels. Squeeze some of the liquid from cucumbers (almost as if wringing moisture from a cloth). Place cucumbers in food processor and pulse to chop fine (if there's excess liquid drain it off).
  • Pour cucumbers into a mixing bowl add Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, and dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Greek Stuffed Peppers, recipe provided below (adapted from Edible Perspective)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw millet
  • 1 cup low/no sodium veggie stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 red bell peppers,  halved + de-seeded
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed + drained
  • 1/2 cup halved kalamata olives, pitted
  • scant 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 6 handfuls baby spinach
  • 4-6oz feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil, for cooking

Directions:

  • Heat a pot with a swirl of oil over medium.
  • Rinse + drain the millet then add to the pot and toast [stirring] for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the veggie stock and water and bring to a boil.
  • Stir once then reduce heat to simmer and cover for 20min.  Do not stir during this time.
  • Be sure the liquid has absorbed [tip the pan to check] then remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, keeping covered.  Fluff with a fork.
  • Preheat your oven to broil and lightly oil, salt, and pepper the halved peppers and place on a baking sheet.
  • Just as you remove the millet from the burner, heat a large pan over medium and add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil.
  • Once hot, add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent and soft.  About 5-8 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, oregano, and black pepper for 30 seconds until fragrant, then add in the chickpeas and cook for about 6-8 minutes until starting to brown.
  • While cooking, place peppers under the broiler for a 2-4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 2-4 minutes.  You want them slightly tender, not limp.  Set aside.
  • To your pan add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and 2 cups of fluffed millet and stir together.
  • Add in your spinach and incorporate until just starting to wilt, another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add half the feta, lemon juice, and lemon zest, then give it one more stir and taste.  Add more salt if desired. The olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese have a hefty amount of sodium so taste and add as desired.
  • Lightly pack into peppers, top with remaining feta, and place under the broiler until the mixture starts to brown.  About 2-3 minutes.

Dessert:

Baklava, recipe provided below (adapted from How Sweet Eats)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of unsalted pecans, roasted
  • 8 ounces of unsalted almonds, roasted
  • 8 ounces of salted pistachios, roasted (if using unsalted, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to nut mixture)
  • 2 whole vanilla beans, scraped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 pound of phyllo dough
  • 2 3/4 sticks (about 1 1/3 cups or 22 tablespoons(!)) of unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for the honey vanilla bean simple syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:

  • Thaw phyllo dough according to directions on package, then unroll. Once thawed, cover with a slightly damp towel to keep pliable.
  • Combine nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, adding the contents of the vanilla bean in two or three separate pulses. Once chopped, add nuts to a large bowl and combine with brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves, then thoroughly mix.
  • Melt butter on the stovetop or in the microwave. Using a pastry brush, brush an entire 9x 13 pan with melted butter. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough – each one painted with melted butter – in the baking dish. Be very patient and gentle with the dough, and if it begins to rip, just try to push it into place. After layer 8, spread 1/4 of the nut mixture evenly over the dough. At this point, I wasn’t sure how the next sheet of phyllo would stick to the nuts, so I took my pastry brush and drizzled a bit of butter over the nuts. This helps!
  • After the first layer of nuts, layer 4 sheets of phyllo on top – each one brushed with melted butter. Repeat this 3 more times: 1 layer of nuts, 4 sheets of phyllo, 1 layer of nuts, 4 sheets of phyllo, then a fourth layer of nuts. After that layer, add 8 sheets of phyllo on top (instead of just 4) like you did in the beginning, brushing each with melted butter. If there is any butter left, pour it over top. Stick the whole pan in the fridge and refrigerate for 30 minutes. As soon as you stick it in the fridge, preheat the oven.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove baklava from fridge and using a sharp knife, cut as desired. I set my pan down horizontally, then made four cuts from left to right. I then started in a corner and cut diagonals. Once cut, place pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. As soon as you place it in the oven, make your syrup below.
  • If the top of the baklava gets to brown, tent it with aluminum foil. When finished baking, remove from oven and gently cut out a corner piece. Tilt the pan and if there is any butter laying, drain it. While the baklava is hot, evenly pour the syrup over top. Let set (ideally overnight, covered with aluminum foil once cool) before cutting and serving.
  • To make syrup: Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Before drizzling, remove cinnamon stick.
Ashley PolicastroComment