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A quick trip to Greece

Even though it is warming up – ever so slowly – there are still cool, crisp days when you yearn for real heat: the baking temperatures of sun-drenched beaches with bright blue skies, just right for basking in bathing suits.

Well, you can make believe that you are on the Greek islands lying on the sand with these Greek flavours straight from Foodland Ontario. Get a head start on summer with all these Mediterranean flavours.

Red Pepper Feta Spread

Simple and addictive, this pepper spread is common in Greece as part of a shared appetizer or mezes. Serve with toasted pita wedges, cucumber slices and pepper wedges. Any leftovers make a fantastic sandwich or burger spread.

1 sweet red pepper cut into chunks
1/3 cup (75 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) crumbled feta cheese
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) crushed red pepper flakes

In medium skillet, combine red pepper and water; cover, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes or until pepper is tender. Uncover and bring to boil; simmer until all liquid has evaporated, about four minutes.

In food processor or blender, puree pepper, cheese and pepper flakes until smooth. Transfer to bowl, cover, and refrigerate for two hours, or up to three days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 1 cup (250 mL). Serves six.

Grilled Chicken with Greek Salad

Fast to prepare, yet with all the flavours of Greece, this chicken dish is perfect for a family meal or for casual entertaining.

To soak up all the tasty juices, serve with grilled garlic toast. Rub a peeled clove of garlic over the cut sides of French bread, brush lightly with olive oil and grill on the barbecue until toasty – yum!

Vinaigrette:
3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 mL) red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, oregano and basil
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, salt and fresh black pepper

Chicken and Salad:
4 1 lb/ 500 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, preferably air-chilled
2-3 Ontario greenhouse tomatoes cut into chunks
1/2 English cucumber, cut into chunks, skin on
1 sweet yellow, red or orange pepper, cut into chunks
1/4 cup (50 mL) thinly sliced red onion
6 kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup (50 mL) crumbled feta cheese

In large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Transfer 4 tsp (20 mL) of dressing to glass bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. (Make ahead; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day).

To remaining dressing, add tomatoes, cucumber, yellow pepper, onion and olives; toss and set aside. Place chicken on greased grill over medium heat (350°F/180°C.) Grill, covered for six to eight minutes per side, or until no longer pink inside and a thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken registers 165°F (74°C). Divide chicken and salad among serving plates and sprinkle with cheese. Makes four servings.

Salad Kebabs

Salad on a stick – a great way to serve vegetables. Place vegetables in bowls and allow people to pick and choose the ones they enjoy. Turn kebabs into a meal by adding cooked cubed pork or lamb and serve in a pita.

Dressing:
3/4 cup (175 mL) plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced red onion
2 tsp (10 mL) each, red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) oregano
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) each, salt and fresh black pepper

Kebabs:
4 Ontario mini cucumbers or half an English cucumber
1/2 each, red, yellow and orange sweet peppers
24 grape tomatoes
8 leaves Boston or leaf lettuce
1/4 cup (50 mL) crumbled feta cheese

In small bowl, whisk together yogurt, garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover dressing and refrigerate for 15 minutes or for up to a day.

Cut each mini cucumber into six pieces or slice English cucumber thickly and cut in halves. Cut each pepper into eight chunks. On eight inch (20 cm) bamboo or metal skewers, thread one piece each of cucumber, pepper and tomato; repeat twice.

Brush each kebab liberally with dressing; place on lettuce-lined platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with feta. Serve with remaining dressing.

 

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  -  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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