On Vacation in Greece
I want to first start off this post with a short apology. Before I left for my month-long European adventure, I had planned to post three recipes I learned from my father, but I found myself busy tying up loose ends at work and packing, and thus forgot the notes I had taken. Rest assured, I will post the recipes as soon as I get home in August.
Currently, I’m sitting at the wonderful Attalos Hotel in Athens, typing on a balcony with the Acropolis in beautiful view. Zuzana and I just spent five days in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, with friends of the family. I also was privy to learning a wonderful dish from our friends.
Food in Greece isn’t the same as one would see in the “Greektowns” around the world or in the small Gyros spots many Americans are familiar with. While you can hit up the tavernas aimed at tourists and get the usual cuisine, the actual honest-to-goodness restaurants offer much fare that delight the palette and give the connoisseur a much different picture of Greek food. I imagine this will happen in any country you visit.
When it came to this dish that I learned, I must say that produce in Greece is night and day compared to what I find in America. I don’t know if it’s because US Farmers grow produce differently, or the pesticides/chemicals used, or even the land, but produce here in Greece just tastes better. I was never a fan of honeydew melon, but here I find myself enjoying it. Peaches are in season right now, and I must say the ones I’ve had both in Thessaloniki and Athens were nothing short of amazing. Tomatoes are best described as pure ambrosia.
All in all, my experiences with produce have also shown how easy it can be to make flavorful dishes from simple ingredients. There isn’t as much seasoning, salting, etc. done to the food. Just let the ingredients themselves stand out on their own. My friend in Thessaloniki made this beautiful vegetable stew involving all fresh ingredients, and I’m honored to bring this to you now. It’s a wonderful dish for the summer.
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 lbs of fresh artichoke hearts, cut into cup shapes
- 4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 2 lbs of fresh or frozen peas
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat up the oil on medium heat.
- Add in the white, red, and green onions and cook until soft.
- Add in the carrots and cook until soft.
- Place into the mixture the artichoke hearts, potatoes, and peas.
- Add in the lemon juice, dill (the whole bunch), and however much salt and pepper you desire.
- Fill the pot with just enough water to have everything submerged halfway.
- Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer until potatoes are soft and the liquid is thicker.
Try to use fresh ingredients. I know in other countries the produce might not be as flavorful as I had here, but this is a recipe where fresh ingredients make the dish.
Be sure to use ONLY the artichoke hearts when weighing in the 2 pounds. Do not use whole artichokes as you’ll end up with much less after peeling and cutting.
When adding in salt and pepper, do it gradually as the mixture is simmering. You’re only adding it to your personal taste preference after all.
Feel fee to add other vegetables if you desire, or even change up the onions. The green onions will actually sweeten the dish after being cooked. If you use green onions, do not just use the greens, but also some of the white.
The adventures will continue with more on the Athenian cuisine and later in Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Stay tuned.