Tag Archives: Greek

Stuffed tomatoes and peppers – a great veggie recipe!

2 Oct

I remember the days when my husband, Terry, used to say he hated vegetarian food.  That was before our son married a vegetarian, Tracy.  Over the years I have made countless meals without meat and, with the exception of those using Quorn, Terry has enjoyed every one.  I think perhaps our favourite is Stuffed Tomatoes.  There are lots of variations of this dish.  Some add minced meat to the stuffing, others, like my friend Maritsa, add roasted pine nuts and raisins.  I make mine how my adopted YaYa (that is Grandmother in Greek) taught me, many years ago.  Sadly she is no longer with us but whenever I cook this I have memories of standing in her tiny kitchen, working together and not understanding a word said between us.

For those of you who have tried Greek cooking, it can be a bit of a hit or miss affair.  Recipe books written by Greeks rarely give precise measurements and it can be frustrating when you have to decide how much a ‘bit of’ something actually is.  This, however, is perfectly natural for the Greeks.  If you ever get the chance, talk to a Greek about food.  A light will switch on in their eyes and they will start talking with passion about a subject they love.  Rena Salaman writes that cooking for Greeks is a constant reminder of who they are and where they come from.  Recipes were rarely written down and so every household would have their own version of what is known to be a popular Greek dish.  The one thing they would have in common is that the food would always be made of what is in season, and, most importantly, there would always be an extra portion, just in case there is an unexpected visitor.  Such is the Greek hospitality!

Anyway, back to the plot and Yaya’s Stuffed Tomatoes and peppers (Tomates ke piperies yemistes)

Serves 4

  • 4 large tomatoes (ripe beef tomatoes are perfect)
  • 4 green peppers
  • 5oz rice,washed and drained
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • Small bunch of flat-leafed parsley, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • Cold water
  • Extra virgin olive oil (preferably Greek)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges (baking potatoes are best)
  • 8 oz fresh tomatoes, grated, mixed with 1/4 pint water
  • pinch sugar
  1. Wash the tomatoes, slice off the top at the stem end.   Using a teaspoon, carefully remove the tomato pulp and reserve.  Place the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar in each.
  2. Wash the peppers and slice off the top at the stem end.  Carefully remove all the seeds and white pith inside and discard.  Place in the dish with the tomatoes.
  3. Chop the tomato pulp.  Lightly fry the onion until soft, in a little olive oil.  Add the tomato pulp, the rice and the chopped herbs.  Cover with cold water, about 1 inch above the level of the rice mix.  Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat until rice is tender to the bite and all the water has been absorbed.  Keep an eye on it and add a little more water if required.
  4. Fill the tomatoes and peppers 3/4 full, top with a tablespoon of water and replace the lids.  Wedge potato slices between tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil and pour over the grated tomato mix.  Season with salt and pepper and bake in a preheated oven, 180c/170C fan/gas 4, for 1 hour.  Baste occasionally to keep the vegetables moist.

Kalo Oreksi (Good appetite!) 

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Prawn Saganaki – a wonderful Greek dish

7 Aug

DSCI0112I remember the first time I had Prawn Saganaki. It was on the beautiful island of Aegina, cooked by the sister of a dear friend for their Fathers 90th birthday party. I had to move the dish away from me or I would have eaten the lot.  I have looked many times for the recipe but have struggled to find it.  There are some on the internet but, somehow, the ingredients don’t seem to marry with the taste I remembered.  Recently we went for a week in Stalis, Crete.  I lost count of how many times I ate Prawn Saganaki or Mussel Saganaki while I was there. The most wonderful of all was served in an ouzeri called Tsourlis, almost next door to the apartments where we stayed.  They made their Mussel Saganaki with fresh mussels and it was absolutely to die for.

I had an idea in my head of the ingredients and was delighted when I cross-referenced this with the recipe in my very old Greek cookery book written by Rena Salaman.  Rena is a guru of traditional Greek cooking and, although this little paperback does not include pictures, the way she writes about her food and the places she remembers eating them is so vivid you feel you can almost taste the dishes she is describing.  She does not call her dish Prawn Saganaki but ‘Yarithes Yiouvetsaki’.  The dish is exactly the same as the ones I have tasted – prawns baked in a fresh tomato and feta cheese sauce.  Wonderful on its own  with chunks of fresh bread to mop up the sauce. Rena’s book is simply called ‘Greek Food’. It was published in 1983, not sure if there are newer publications. The ISBN IS 0-00-636467-5. If you want to read about wonderful places in Greek and maybe relive some memories, or simply want to make good Greek food, then this book is a must.

Saganaki (Greek σαγανάκι) refers to various Greek dishes prepared in a small frying pan, itself called a saganaki, the best-known being an appetizer of fried cheese.

Here is the recipe, slightly modified

King Prawn Saganaki                                    Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter

  • 200g raw king prawns
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 400g fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned and sliced
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 75g feta cheese
  1. Preheat an oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the onions and fry over a lo-medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the oregano, wine and tomatoes then continue cooking for 5 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Season, add the parsley then crumble in the feta cheese. Mix well, bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
  4. In the meantime bring a small pan of water to the boil then add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes until turned pink. Be careful not to overcook as they will go hard.
  5. Put the prawns in an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce.  Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with chunks of crusty fresh bread.

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