Lived in Greece
Years ago, I was fortunate enough to live in Greece for a while – well, actually, it was for about six months in the small but charming village of Archipolis on the island of Rhodes. This largest of the ten Greek Islands was set at the crossing of the Mediterranean’s two major sea routes between the Aegean Sea and the Middle East coast.
The locals were so friendly and helpful to me, and I got to know them quite well over the months.
I do recall one morning that I had gone to visit the Nona (Grandmother) of the wife of a married couple who was showing friendship towards me. She had invited me round for a discussion about something that was bothering her about Britain, and being English, she felt I could help.
When I arrived, she made sure I was seated and brought a home-made cold drink for me and then insisted on ‘tidying up’ her kitchen so we could sit in comfort. She bustled around, putting things in their places, and doing something with vegetables. Then I realized that for the last fifteen minutes, she had prepared dinner (sparingly spending her time), and now it was roasting in the oven, and she could sit with me.
We leisurely discussed the matter concerning her – something to do with Britain and cooking – and as we did, something was tugging at my brain – we went on to discuss other items of interest, yet still, my mind was not settling.
Eventually, I took my leave, and back at the cottage I was renting, my brain revealed to me what had been its distraction.
Assorted Fresh Veggies
There’d been a variety of fresh veggies on Nona’s table, and she had quickly washed (not peeled) them and chopped them to roughly the same size. I don’t recall exactly down to the last sliver of onion, but there had been eggplant, green beans, chopped broccoli, mushrooms, summer squash, tomatoes, and maybe red onions. Then she’d placed them into a large, heavy skillet on the stove, after shaking a generous amount of olive oil in there. My mouth was watering.
Loved the Mediterranean Food
That was during my second month there, I think, and in the following months, I ate many different assortments of delicious Greek roasted vegetables. I also enjoyed the other many and various ways these lovely people had of cooking their vegetables in just the right marinade for just the suitable accompaniment of meat or fish or something else.
Share a Recipe
Here I’d like to share a basic recipe that you could use in several different ways to make a delicious Greek meal. Of course, as we already know, Greek meals are nothing without the accompaniment of delicious, distinctively flavored Greek Vegetables, and the speed at which they can be prepared is genuinely unique. They are the answer to the prayers of a lazy cook!
Imprecise Instructions – Cooking with Love
Unless it involves baking, the Greek people are not really precise when they cook.
They use a handful, or a cupful, or a smidgeon. It’s all a dash or a splash, and things go much better that way because it’s all ‘to taste’ – simple as that! Nonas pass their recipes down with great love through their children, and this has been the tradition for centuries, so it’s not going to change anytime soon. Taste, as you go, has always been the way, and it remains. Because with these people, the food and the family are as one.
Delicious, Distinctively Flavoured, Greek Roast Vegetables
There's a vast assortment of veggies that would work with this recipe, but for our purpose today, let's choose:
- few bell peppers ((I prefer to use the red and yellow one because I find the green less ripened ones, to cause more gas which can be embarrassing.)
- Butter squash ((cut to a similar size of chopped peppers))
- Put some Green Beans in there.
- Some Cauliflower would complement the other veg, as would
- Some Broccoli
- And a few Red Onions.
Place them all in a large flat oven baking dish. Wash all these vegetables and only peel the Onions
I like to pour Olive Oil into my hands' palms and rub it all over the vegetables. Otherwise, you can generously pour the olive oil over the veggies then turn the veggies to make sure they’re fully covered – but that’s an unnecessary schlepp!
Add some garlic paste, a shake of Greek Seasoning, and Balsamic Vinegar splattering if you choose, and maybe just a drop of lemon juice. Mix or shake it all around in the baking tray and now place the tray in the oven, which should have ready heat.
The oven will be set at about 425 degrees Fahrenheit (took 20 minutes to reach temperature), and the dish will take about 30/40 minutes to roast. When it’s ready, you’ll know by the lovely golden color of the vegetables and the wonderful smell from the sauce.
You could pair this dish with any number of main dishes but what immediately comes to mind is either:
Succulent Roast Chicken
Firm Fried and Flaked Fish
Golden Nutty Roast Chickpeas
Incidentally, earlier in this article, I mentioned a variety of ways with vegetables, we’ve completed the style of roasting, and now we’ll move on to sauté.
Sautéed Greek Vegetables
- Zucchini ((otherwise known as courgette) sliced)
- Cherry tomatoes (unsliced, or plum tomatoes sliced in half)
- Leftover boiled potatoes sliced
- Red Onions sliced
- Mushrooms sliced in half
- Eggplant sliced to match other sizes
- Yellow Squash sliced
Pour some Olive Oil on the base of a large skillet.
Wash the vegetables, pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Put them in the Large Skillet on the stove to sauté .
Drizzle more Olive Oil on the veg plus add
Garlic paste mixed with Salt and Pepper, Rosemary, Balsamic Vinegar to taste or a drop or two of Amontillado Sherry.
Put all of the above in the Skillet and mix well, then leave for about 15/20minutes to sauté (some people call it stir fry).
When cooked, it’s a golden brown on top and a little stuck underneath.
Turn off the pan and add more sauce to loosen the bottom side of the vegetables.
The sauce is truly amazing, and the fried vegetables are irresistible
This dish would complement several mains, for example:
Some large shrimp
Tender, succulent slices of lamb also fried in herb & butter sauce.
This is a very famous and popular Greek Vegetable dish, and it must be mentioned here. It has specific ingredients and is not a dish you can alter or adjust, so you can't use just any vegetable.
- Bell Pepper
- Garlic Chopped
- Tomato paste
- More Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper.
Wash and chop the vegetables and place them in a pot with olive oil.
Mix the sauce well, ensuring enough tomato paste.
Pour into a pot over the vegetables and stir well.
Cook for about 20 minutes then pour carefully onto a baking tray.
Holding back a lot of the sauce and adding a cup of water.
Cover with foil and roast for about 1 hour on 350 F.
Keep pouring a cup of water in there as it roasts so it doesn't turn dry.
Make sure you have enough sauce.
After 40 minutes, remove from over to pout the rest of the sauce.
Now pour over the vegetables on the trays the sauce you held back. Continue to cook .
After an hour, turn out and serve in bowls.
A beautiful looking bowl of vegetable stew or casserole
This is a vegetarian dish and must be served with Feta Cheese (not any other type)
and chunks of Fresh Bread.
Whilst I lived there I learned that these dishes aren’t the type of food you eat in a dark, quiet corner, alone, as lovers do; but rather with friends at their home or, in a large Taverna where there are people – many people, music, dancing and a hugely exciting atmosphere of drink, song, dance and the making of new friends or at least, the sharing of an evening meal together.
Mediterranean Food is Best
Greek food – Mediterranean food is declared some of the healthiest food in the world, and the constant consumption of such food – it has been said by medical doctors – will help you live longer and be healthier.
While I was there, I saw vegetables in another light. They cannot be regarded as optional and should be a daily inclusion in your diet.
These dishes are nutritional and great for eating with a bunch of your friends to get together for the pure enjoyment of life.
It’s a celebration of food and friends, or wine and winning a dance or two from a stranger.