Greek pasta. June 27, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Greek cuisine, Greek pasta, Greek pasta recipes, Greek pita, Greek salad, pasta recipes, tzatziki sauce
Silence Dogood here, with a dish from our recent travels. While in Asheville, NC, our friend Ben and I ate at a modest Greek-Italian restaurant just down the road from our beloved Log Cabin Motor Court. We ordered Greek salad, warm Greek pita with tzatziki sauce for dipping, and what the menu referred to as “Greek pasta.” The Greek salad and pita with tzatziki were excellent, and by the time the pasta arrived, OFB and I were full. Which was a good thing, since the pasta, spaghetti with olive oil and feta, was bland, to say the least.
However, I saw an excellent opportunity here. Taking our pasta to go (and adding ample sprinklings of crushed red pepper, black pepper, and salt), we stashed it in the fridge in the small but fully functional kitchen of our little log cabin. After a quick trip to the nearby Ingles market the following day, I set about turning our leftover “Greek pasta” into a delicious dinner.
Here’s what I did: I cooked broccoli florets until just tender in boiling water while sauteeing minced onion and crushed garlic in a little extra-virgin olive oil. The second the broccoli was fork-tender, I turned off the heat, drained the broccoli, and rinsed it with cold water. Once the onions had clarified, I dumped in the pasta with its crumbled feta, added the broccoli, stirred well to blend, and topped the dish with flaked Parmesan. I slapped the lid on the pan, turned the flame to its lowest setting, let the pasta heat through, and served the dish with a salad and wine. Yum!!!
The modified dish was so good that I’ll add this pasta to my permanent repertoire. But with a full kitchen, pantry, spice selection, and fridge at my disposal, I’m planning to try some more modifications until we find our favorite. Adding artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and strips of red, orange, and/or yellow bell pepper to the onion/garlic saute instead of the broccoli should make a delicious dish. Sauteed mushrooms and bell pepper strips with onions and garlic, feta and flaked Parmesan, crushed red pepper, black pepper, salt, and Greek oregano would be delicious, too. You could saute sliced mushrooms with the onion and garlic and add the just-cooked broccoli instead of the pepper strips. If you eat meat, you could add grilled or rotisserie chicken, or beef or shrimp hot off the kebab. You could add Greek yogurt to make a creamier dish, or anise liqueur (in this case, skip the peppers, broccoli and olives, please) to give the dish more depth. Yum! The possibilities are endless.
Greek salad and warm Greek pita (which is quite different from a thin, dry Middle Eastern pita, in fact, more like a rich Indian naan) with tzatziki sauce are great accompaniments to this pasta. I like a simple Greek salad: Romaine lettuce, quartered ripe paste or whole ripe cherry tomatoes, slivers of red onion, chopped scallions (green onions), chopped bell peppers (any color or a combination), kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese with a dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar. Fresh herbs—basil, thyme, mint, and/or cilantro—added directly to the lettuce before adding the toppings creates a delicious, fresh salad. Grilled artichoke hearts are fabulous on this, too.
Check your local grocery’s freezer section for Greek pita. We can find Greek pita at our local farmers’ market, too. To make tzatziki sauce, buy Greek plain yogurt (or strain regular plain yogurt to drain off the whey and make a thick, cream-cheese-like yogurt) and mix in crushed garlic and minced fresh cucumbers to taste.
Try this meal, you’ll like it, I promise! And if you come up with variations of your own, please share them with us.
‘Til next time,