Tag Archives: feta cheese

Greek Shrimp w/ White Beans & Feta

shrimp

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love this fast and flavorful shrimp dish from Cooking Light. It is both light and satisfying and when paired with a crusty loaf of French bread for sopping up all of the tasty broth, it makes for a perfect end of the week dinner. It is so good that it takes me far away from the dreary winter weather we’ve been having and places me on a Greek island. One can dream……….

GREEK SHRIMP w/ WHITE BEANS & FETA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup finely sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup finely sliced onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 cup chopped plum tomato
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the oil, swirling to coat.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the fennel, onion, and oregano; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Add the tomato; cook 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the stock, beans, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Gently stir in the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp pink.
  • Remove the bay leaf, stir in parsley and pepper.
  • Sprinkle feta over top.

Serves 4

Advertisements

Spanakopita

FullSizeRender-53

I love Greek food but outside of Greece I find that its quality is hit or miss. When we lived in Virginia one of my favorite annual events was the Greek Festival hosted by the local Greek community. It was right in our neighborhood so we were able to walk to it to enjoy the delicious foods that was all homemade. Here in Belgium the Greek community hosts a similar event each June and we always attend to enjoy the food, music and dancing. Of course nothing rivals the amazing Greek foods we’ve had when we’ve actually been in Greece. Whether on the islands or the far northern reaches of the country, the food from local tavernas has been the best I’ve ever eaten. It is classic, comforting and unpretentious.

Inevitably, whenever I have a really good Greek meal I come home with the intent of replicating the food myself. I’ve learned that the key to the best replications is to use genuine ingredients that actually come from Greece. Case in point is this spanakopita which I’ve adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Harvest cookbook. Spanakopita is a classic Greek dish and is always my test of whether a restaurant is good. If the spanakopita is good chances are the other dishes are as well. With its flaky crust and generous dose of spinach, leeks and feta cheese, this version is just like the ones I’ve eaten in Greece.

SPANAKOPITA

2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed and minced

4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

1/4 cup fresh dill, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups feta cheese, crumbled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

12 sheets phyllo dough

1 egg white, lightly beaten

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat.
  • Add the spinach and saute, stirring regularly, until the leaves begin to wilt. This should take about 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Add the leeks and continue to saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly brush a 12 inch baking dish with olive oil. Set aside.
  • Place the spinach and leek mixture in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the parsley, rosemary, dill and thyme.
  • Add the eggs and feta cheese then season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well until everything is combined.
  • Brushing olive oil between each sheet, layer 7 phyllo sheets in the prepared baking dish, placing them so that they overlap each other.
  • Scrape the filling onto the top sheet of phyllo then fold all of the sheets over the filling.
  • Layer with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing with olive oil between each layer.
  • Stuff the edges of the phyllo into the edge of the dish.
  • Brush the top of the pie with the egg whites then using a sharp knife, cut 5 to 6 slits into the top of the spanakopita.
  • Place in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 6

FullSizeRender-54

The whole pie

Grilled Lemon Chicken w/ Feta Rice

IMG_5899

Here’s a recipe adapted from Cooking Light that makes me think of the Greek Islands. Its fast and easy and since the chicken is cooked on the grill there isn’t any need to turn on a hot oven in the middle of the summer. A simple marinade of fresh lemon juice gives the chicken a juicy and tangy flavor. And while rice is always nice, the addition of feta and fresh basil brings an ordinary side dish to a whole new level. Plus the entire meal comes together quickly. What more can you ask for?

GRILLED LEMON CHICKEN w/ FETA RICE

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 cups cooked basmati rice
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Place 2 tablespoons  of the lemon juice lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic and the red pepper flakes in a large zip-top bag.
  • Add the chicken breasts, turn to coat, and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Lightly coat a grill with non-stick cooking spray and pre-heat to medium-high heat.
  • Remove chicken from marinade. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the salt and half of the black pepper.
  • Place the chicken on the grill and grill until cooked through, about 12 to 14 minutes per side. Cooking times will vary depending upon the thickness of the meat.
  • While the chicken cooks, make the rice according to package instructions.
  • Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  • Add rice to the lemon and oil mixture then sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.
  • Add the feta and basil leaves and toss to combine.Serve the chicken alongside the rice.

Serves 4

 

Glazed Grilled Chicken Salad w/ Strawberries & Feta

IMG_5075

Spring has arrived in Belgium and while some days still call for warm and comforting food, others inspire lighter meals. And when that is the case salads are the perfect dinner option. This salad is inspired by  Cooking Light and is filled with juicy seasonal fruit, crisp greens and sweet and tangy chicken breasts.

For me, the secret to building a satisfying salad that can serve as a satisfying entree is a variety of flavors and textures. The chicken is glazed with a simple mixture of preserves before being grilled; if your dinner hour is rushed, you can cook up the chicken ahead of time. Alternatively you can use any leftover chicken you have on hand or even buy a rotisserie chicken to slice up as a topping. I am a fan of sweet and savory combinations  so this salad uses a combination of strawberries and fresh pineapple tossed with onions and peppers. Use whatever fruits and vegetables sound good to you. And because you build the salads individually you can add or omit toppings depending upon your family’s individual preferences.

GLAZED GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD w/ STRAWBERRIES & FETA

1/3 cup black current, cherry or seedless raspberry preserves

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

4 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups strawberries, sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

4 cups mixed salad greens

1 cup thinly sliced orange bell peppers

1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

4 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • Combine the preserves, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper and the garlic powder in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until combined. Set aside.
  • Preheat a lightly oiled grill to medium-high.
  • Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with the preserve mixture. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, turning every 4 to 5 minutes and brushing with more preserves until cooked through, about 24 to 28 minutes depending upon the thickness of the breasts. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and set aside.
  • Combine the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place the strawberries and onions in a medium sized bowl and then add the oil and vinegar mixture. Toss gently to coat.
  • Divide the salad greens amongst four plates or shallow bowls.
  • Evenly divide the strawberry mixture and dressing over the top of the greens.
  • Add the peppers and pineapple to the tops of the salad.
  • Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal and place one breast on top of each salad.
  • Sprinkle with the feta cheese and sunflower seeds over the top of the salads and serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

Greek Chicken Pasta

IMG_4706

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Who doesn’t love an easy yet tasty pasta meal? I know I certainly do and this chicken pasta dish adapted from the Noble Pig doesn’t disappoint. The chicken adds protein to the dish while the addition of spinach makes this a complete one pot meal. The feta and olives give the dish a Mediterranean flair. Depending upon what I have on hand, I’ve used both Greek and Spanish olives so simply choose one you like. If you are short on time or have leftovers, use rotisserie or pre-cooked chicken. Simply add the chicken in during the final step and cook until heated through.

GREEK CHICKEN PASTA

12 ounces spaghetti

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces baby spinach

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 cup whole olives of your choosing

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

  • Cook spaghetti as package directs.
  • While the spaghetti cooks, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken breasts and tossing regularly, cook until browned on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add in the onion and the garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the spinach, wine, oregano, chile flakes, olives, pine nuts, salt and pepper.
  • Drain pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Add the chicken and spinach mixture and cook over medium heat until warmed, about 4 minutes.
  • Transfer to plates and top with feta cheese.

Serves 4

Greek Style Chicken Breasts

photo 1-265

Here’s an easy chicken dish adapted from a Cooking Light recipe that is packed with flavor and sure to please the entire family. I’ve turned the dish into a one pan dinner by cooking the chicken and the vegetables in the same skillet. The chicken breasts are simply cooked with a touch of salt, pepper and dried oregano. The addition of tomatoes and olives sautéed with onions and garlic make a simple sauce and when you top it all with some salty feta cheese you have a light and tasty meal. It really doesn’t get much easier than this.

Serve the chicken alongside a fresh Greek salad and some warm pita bread and you are good to go.

GREEK STYLE CHICKEN BREASTS

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Greek olives

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Season the chicken breasts on both sides with the salt, pepper and oregano.
  • When the oil shimmers, place the chicken in the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes until it is browned and cooked half way through.
  • Flip the chicken over. Add the onions and garlic to the pan around the chicken and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the olives and tomatoes to the pan and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and divide among four plates. Divide the sauce over the chicken then top with the parsley, feta and a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Serves 4

 

 

Greek Village Salad

photo 3-212

Last summer I was lucky to take not one but two trips to Greece. The first trip was to the Ionian Islands of Cofru, Paxos and Antipaxos. The second trip included the town of Meteora and the city of Thessaloniki and several villages in between. The geography was varied but the one thing that held true regardless of our locations was the food. Whether eating at fancier restaurants or simple mom and pop operations, all of the food was simple, fresh and delicious. Fish was a mainstay when we were near the sea while inland grilled lamb reigned supreme. But the one item that was guaranteed to be on every menu was a village salad.

The actual ingredients in a village salad may vary depending upon location but cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese were mainstays. Oregano, whether fresh or dried was often included. Some salads may include peppers or onions. Because we were there during the steamy days of July all of the ingredients were local, super fresh and tasted so wonderful. I actually ate a salad as an entree at more than one meal.

I’ve attempted to recreate the salad on numerous occasions but some how the salads never taste quite as good as they do in Greece. But by using the freshest of ingredients; vegetables bought at the farmer’s market rather than the grocery store, feta cheese and olives from a Greek importer rather than mass produced products that come to Belgium from Greece via the United States, the results are pretty darn good.

GREEK VILLAGE SALAD

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby cucumbers, cut into coins

1 cup mixed Mediterranean olives

3/4 cup feta cheese, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in a large bowl.
  • Gently fold in the feta cheese taking care not to crumble the cubes
  • Drizzle the oil over the top of the salad, sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.

Serves 4

Making Here Home

Expat life, travel...and books

One Real Peach.

reflections on the heartbreak and hilarity of mothering, writing, and living authentically

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

Salty observations about life, love, and living abroad

Sprouted Kitchen

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Not Without Salt

Delicious Recipes and Food Photography by Ashley Rodriguez.

101 Cookbooks

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Local Milk Blog

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Spoon & Shutter

In and out of the kitchen with Susan and Ted Axelrod

Plating Up

The food that accompanies my adventures!

A Life of Spice

Food, Culture and Lifestyle with Monica Bhide

The Blueberry Files

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Zosia Cooks

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Yummy Supper

The food that accompanies my adventures!

What Julie Ate

It's a delicious life, but somebody has to live it.

United Noshes

The food that accompanies my adventures!

The Bitten Word

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Hip Foodie Mom

The food that accompanies my adventures!

From Away

Cooking and Eating in Maine

Always Order Dessert

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Yankee Kitchen Ninja

The food that accompanies my adventures!

%d bloggers like this: