During a recent week long break from routine in Corfu, I fell in love with a few of its native dishes. Greek food and its culture had somehow eluded my journey through life so far. Other than some basic knowledge of Greek mythology, and an awareness of the current trials and tribulations the country is experiencing with its economic and refugee crisis, Greece was somewhat off my radar.
Greek salads were often encountered on the menus of food service establishments , but it would be regulated to the bottom of the list in my order selection process. Eating outside in the warm sun could possibly have added to the overall experience, I can now declare myself a convert. A simple dish where the combination and quality of its raw ingredients are what makes it great. Juicy bright red tomatoes, cucumber, mildly sweet red onion, wondrous olives, salad leaves of varying type, salty feta cheese, dressed with fruity olive oil and fragrant oregano.
The cucumber element here would often be the reason for this nose turning upwards. Not a big fan. First day we tried it I was skeptical to say the least. The sunshine reared Greek cucumber is a whole different entity, full of flavour. No more watery tasteless cucumbers purchased at large supermarkets for me. I was once told that a cucumber contains so few calories, the amount of energy used by the body when consuming it will cancel those calories out. Interesting if it’s true… don’t take my word for it though.
The olive oil I consumed throughout the week was outstanding. A few bottles of this “sunshine in a bottle” were duly packed into my luggage. The joy when purchased at such great value, soon quashed when fined by airline with my luggage allowance over the agreed limit. I spend lots of time checking my luggage weight when setting out on an adventure, never top of my list of activities on the return journey.
Also thoroughly enjoyed during this trip were Gyros, Moussaka, Sofrito, Baklava, and top of the list by far, Pastitsada. A casserole dish featuring spicy braised beef or rooster, served with Pasta and a tomato based sauce. More on that another day. I must seek out a good Greek restaurant in Dublin, any suggestions?
Todays tune is “Must Be dreaming” by the band Frou Frou. I loved the album this song was associated with many moons ago. It never ceases to amaze me how a song I have not heard in years can pop back into your head when least expected. Frou Frou are back in vogue at this parish at least.
A proper Greek salad
Ingredients: (serves two)
- 2 sliced tomatoes
- 1/2 red onion
- A hand full of olives
- 1/2 cucumber ( diced )
- 1 block of feta cheese ( cut in half )
- Baby gem lettuce
- 1 tsp of dried oregano
- Splash of olive oil
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- A twist of pepper
The creation of this dish is not rocket science. Try source the finest quality raw ingredients as possible and your job is done. Chop up the tomato, cucumber ( remove the skin with a peeler ) and onion, arrange on the plate with the lettuce and olives. Sprinkle over the oregano and lemon juice, drizzle with olive oil and a finish with a twist of pepper. No need for additional salt, the saltiness of the Feta will suffice here. Serve outdoors if possible!