Going Greek

Fresh good food is the main ingredient for any successful lunch or dinner.  Greek food capitalizes on super fresh vegetables, poignant herbs and with lots of very good olive oil.  I love this menu because it is really easy and always a crowd (and kid) pleaser.  The inspiration of the menu was not only from Greek inspired recipes but also from one of my favorite Middle Eastern cookbooks, Ottolenghi.  There is much crossover between Greek and Persian food so I take liberty in combining some of what I think are the best ingredients and flavors.

 Photo by Mizina/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Mizina/iStock / Getty Images

Menu

Grilled Lamb flavored with herbs

Orzo rice with olive oil and salt

Salad of tomatoes, cucumbers. tomato, feta

Roasted eggplant and peppers

Pita with selection of hummus and tzatziki

Grilled Halloumi cheese

Lamb with Honey and Cilantro (coriander)

2 kg rack of lamb, French trimmed
40 g flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks
60 g mint, leaves and stalks
60 g coriander, leaves and stalks
6 garlic cloves, peeled
20 g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 chillies, seeded
1 tsp salt
100 ml lemon juice
120 ml soy sauce
120ml sunflower oil
6 tbsp honey
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
12 tbsp water

One day before

1. Make sure most of the fat is trimmed off the lamb, leaving a uniform thin layer that will keep the meat moist and add to the flavor.

2. Use a very sharp knife to separate the rack into portions of two or three cutlets.

3. Blitz together all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and then pour over the lamb and making sure every piece is well covered.

4. Place in a non-metal container and refrigerate overnight.

Day Of

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and heat up a griddle pan.

2. Remove the meat from the marinade, shaking off the excess.

3. In a saucepan, sear well on all sides (taking about 5 minutes in total).  You can also do cook on a grill for about 7 minutes per side and eliminate the next step.

4. Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the racks and how well cooked you want them.

5. Heat the marinade in a small pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Both the cutlets and sauce can be served hot or at room temperature.

6. Place in two serving platters for either side of the table.


Pita with selection of hummus and tzatziki

 

Orzo Rice with olive oil

Orzo can be prepared at least one hour before guests arrive.  Before straining, set aside a bit of the water to add (loosen) the pasta before serving. 

Prep time. 20 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 cube chicken bouillon

4 cups water

Directions

1. In a large heavy saucepan add water and bring to boil.

2. Add bouillon cube and blend.

3. Pour in orzo, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Drain and place in a large bowl (set aside some water if not serving immediately).

5. Drizzle with olive oil when ready to serve


Grilled Halloumi Cheese

2 hunks of Halloumi cheese

Olive oil

Fresh pepper

Cilantro or fresh mint for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat griddle or griddle pan until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water.
  2. Slice Halloumi into 1/4 inch (5mm) slices.
  3. Brush each slice with olive oil on both sides.
  4. Place slices on griddle, leaving enough space to flip over.
  5. Grill each side for about 1 minute until nicely charred.
  6. Set on a platter with a squirt of olive oil and a few grinds of fresh pepper.
  7. Garnish with fresh mint or cilantro (coriander).

 

 

 

 

Greek Salad

All ingredients can be sliced 2 hours before and salad dressed 5 minutes before serving.

Prep time. 20 minutes

2 heads of romaine lettuce

12 small ripe tomatoes

4 small or 2 large cucumbers

1 small red onion

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 (200g) pack feta cheese,

handful black Greek olives, pitted if desired

Directions

   1. Clean romaine and cut vertically fork size pieces.
2.  Cut tomatoes in quarters, cucumbers into large cubes, thinly slice onion.
3. In medium bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber and onion, sprinkle with salt to taste and let sit for a few minutes so that the salt can draw out the natural juices from the tomato and cucumber.
4.  Place romaine in salad bowl and add the vegetables with juices
5.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with dill and pepper to taste.
6.  Crumble the feta cheese and sprinkle over with the olives.

Roasted Eggplant and Peppers

You can roast the eggplant and peppers a day before, and then heat in a saucepan about 15 minutes before serving.

Prep time.  1 hour 15 minutes


1 1/2 pounds eggplants

1 onion 

4 yellow, orange, or red bell peppers

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves

10 basil leaves

one handful of pinenuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

1.  Cut the eggplant into large cubes, you want all the vegetables to be cut into similar size.

2.  Cut pepper in half, clean out seeds and cut into square pieces.  

3.  Chop onion into square pieces, and mince garlic.

4.  Toss together eggplants, onion,  peppers, and oil in roasting pan. 

5.  Season with salt and pepper.

6. Roast for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. 

7.  When ready to serve toss in the basil and pinenuts.