ASmall Plates to Savor and Share from the Mediterranean Table
Here, in Meze, Diane Kochilas, the award-winning author of The Glorious Foods of Greece, chef, restaurateur, and cooking teacher, takes you on a spirited journey across Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean, exploring these simple and simply irresistible dishes. The recipes are robust, clear, and easy to follow. These uncomplicated dishes are charged with flavor and based on fresh, accessible ingredients. The results are spectacular.
Meze makes every meal a party, and no one knows how to throw a party better than the Greeks. You’ll find tangy, skewered meats and juicy meatballs, delicious seafood dishes from simple steamed mussels to creamy ouzo-flavored shrimp. You’ll find a healthful selection of aromatic bean dishes, and a recipe for the best fried potatoes in the world, Greek fries, which are hand cut and cooked in olive oil.
The convivial and festive nature of the meze table is reflected in Diane’s warm, inviting style. The innate attractiveness of the food the colors, textures, and shapes are captured in brilliant photographs that evoke the sunny, warm Mediterranean clime. Whether you make just a few dishes for informal entertaining, or create an entire meal of meze, Diane Kochilas makes it possible to bring the spirit of fun and sharing the essence of meze throughout Greece and the Mediterranean to your own table at home.
This is one of many Greek omelets that call for greens. Serve this with Greek Fries (page 98), wrinkled black olives, and crisp white wine or retsina.
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
4 cups coarsely chopped chard or spinach
3 tablespoons extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons good-quality tomato paste
1 ½ cups (about 6 ounces) crumbled Greek feta
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Wash and drain the chard very well. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a
10- or 12- inch nonstick skillet. Add the onion, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring, until the onion is wilted and lightly golden, or 12 to 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the chard or spinach and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium, stir all the ingredients together, and cook until the chard is wilted and all of the pan juices have cooked off.
2. Add the feta and stir until it has nearly melted, or 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Beat the eggs with a little salt and pepper. Add them to the skillet and tilt it so that the eggs go all over, covering the entire surface of the pan. Do this several times as they cook, so that the omelet is dry and fluffy and not at all runny. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.
Little spinach-cheese triangles are probably among the most familiar Greek party foods. This recipe is enriched with several kinds of cheese and fresh herbs.
MAKES ABOUT 36 TRIANGLES
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 cups chopped, blanched, drained spinach (about 6 cups
fresh, or 1 pound frozen and defrosted)
½ cup chopped fresh mint
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup ouzo
1 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled feta
1 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled Greek manouri cheese
or ricotta salata
½ cup (about 4 ounces) fresh anthotyro, whole-milk ricotta,
or farmer’s cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 pound (about 18 sheets) commercial phyllo, defrosted and
at room temperature
Olive or other vegetable oil for frying, as needed
DIANE KOCHILAS is the author of The Glorious Foods of Greece, which won the prestigious Jane Grigson Award for Excellence in Scholarship by the IACP in 2001. She has authored two other books on Greek cuisine, The Greek Vegetarian and The Food and Wine of Greece. She is chef-owner of Villa Thanassi, a real country restaurant with a real country garden, which she runs every summer together with her husband, Vassilis Stenos, on their ancestral island, Ikaria. On Ikaria, she also operates The Glorious Greek Kitchen Cooking School and organizes culinary trips and walking tours in Athens and in other parts of the country. Diane was born and raised in New York City. She moved to Greece with her husband in 1992 and now divides her time between New York, Ikaria, and Athens, where she is the city’s best-known restaurant critic and food journalist. Her weekly columns appear in Ta Nea, the country’s largest newspaper. Her work appears often in American magazines and newspapers.
“With this massive and masterful collection, Kochilas brings Greek cooking front and center in American kitchens. . . Kochilas writes lovingly and insightfully about her adopted country, profiling the many Greeks (mostly women) who generously shared recipes with her, and displays a deep grasp of history.”