Saturday, October 26, 2013


Tzatziki, a classic Greek condiment, is great as a dip for veggies, Pan-Grilled Pita Wedges, or pita chips. It's also great on sandwiches and veggie burgers.

This version originated when my friend Sandi kindly shared her Greek-American sister-in-law's tzatziki recipe with me. As usual, I modified the original recipe to suit my own style and taste.

Be sure to use Greek-style (strained) yogurt; otherwise, your tzatziki will be too watery.

Huge thanks to Sandi and her generous sister-in-law for the inspiration and for providing a very good starting point.


2 cups plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
1/2 of a large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (or 2/3 of a medium cucumber)
1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press or finely minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl, and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow all the flavors to meld.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

-- 8 servings

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Polenta with Stewed Peppers, Tomatoes, and Chickpeas

My Italian grandmother used to top polenta with stewed meats. I like to replace the meat with vegetables and beans.

Add a green salad and perhaps some crusty bread for a healthy and satisfying meal.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (preferably petite-cut), undrained
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 tube of prepared polenta (plain)

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft.

Add the garlic and paprika, and saute for another minute or two. Do not let the garlic burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute.

Add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Raise heat to high, and bring almost to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover, add 1/2 tablespoon of the parsley, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for another 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.

Meanwhile, cut the polenta into 8 slices. Heat the remaining1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Add the polenta slices, and cook, turning once, until heated through and lightly browned on both sides.

To serve, arrange polenta slices on serving plate(s). Top with the chickpea mixture.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley, and serve.

-- 4 servings (2 polenta slices per serving)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tomato, Spinach, and Feta Pizza (12-inch)

The idea for this recipe came from a friend who told me about a pizza that her Greek-American husband had made for her. His pizza was topped with tomatoes and feta.

In my version, below, I also added some spinach and mozzarella. The combination is delicous!


1 Basic All-Purpose Pizza Crust (12-inch) or Thin Pizza Crust (12-inch) (or your favorite 12-inch pizza crust)
6 to 8 ounces fresh spinach
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the pizza crust and press into a 12-inch pizza pan, or form it into a 12-inch round on a baking sheet, with the edges slightly thicker to contain the toppings.

Remove the tough stems from the spinach and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic, and saute for a minute or two, just until fragrant. Do not let the garlic get brown. Add the spinach, along with salt and pepper to taste, and saute over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Drain any excess liquid from the spinach mixture.

Spread 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese evenly over the pizza crust. Arrange the Roma tomato slices on the pizza in a single layer, and then top with the spinach.

Sprinkle the feta evenly over the pizza, and then top it off with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, until golden.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing

-- 3-4 servings

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bowtie Pasta with Mushroom-Marsala Sauce

Marsala wine is a delicious, gourmet sauce base for this mushroom-pasta dish. Vegans can substitute vegan margarine for the butter.

Serve with a green salad and perhaps some warm, crusty bread for a delightful and well-balanced meal.


4 ounces bowtie/butterfly pasta (farfalle)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon butter (or vegan margarine for a vegan version)
8 ounces fresh white or crimini (brown) mushrooms, or a mixture, sliced (or more, if desired)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (preferably Italian flat-leaf parsley)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, and saute for a minute or two, until soft.

Add the butter/margarine to the skillet, along with the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through.

Add the Marsala and 1/2 tablespoon of the parsley. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the mushroom-Marsala sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of parsley, and serve.

-- 2 servings