Traditional Greek dishes for March 25th Celebration

This past Sunday, March 25, Greece and Greeks all over the world celebrated Greek Independence Day. March 25th 1821 marks the day when Greeks declared their independence from the Ottoman Turks after being under their rule for 400 years. On this day, Greece and the Greek communities all over the world also celebrate the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. On March 25th, Greek students parade in their traditional Greek costumes (the boys dressed in the skirt outfits with the 400 pleats that symbolize the 400 years under the Ottoman rule, and the girls dressed in traditional folklore costumes). This is a big celebration in Greece and on this day every Greek is very proud to be called Greek.

This time of the year, in Greece, is also a very nice time. With the flowers and the almond trees blooming, everyone is in their celebratory spirit. As with any Greek holiday, Greeks are very much into good food and drink. On this day there are a couple of special dishes that Greeks prepare. As you will see on my post I, too, made the traditional dishes that are expected to be eaten on March 25th.

Greek Garlic and Bread Dip - Skordalia

Served with Fried Cod

On this dip I went a little bit too far with the garlic. I love garlic and the amount I put in the recipe, that’s what you should use. But I had an extra clove peeled and couldn’t resist but put it in there. When my husband walked in the house from outside, the smell of garlic overwhelmed him. But despite all that the dip came out to taste delicious.

Greek Fried Potato Salad

The Greek potato salad is always prepared with boiled potatoes that you let cool and then add the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley and chopped green onions. I went a bit far this time and wanted to fry the potatoes after I boiled them. The crispness on the outside and the tender, mushiness of the boiled potato inside, gave it a bit of texture and more taste.

Fried Cod in Beer Batter

Batter for cod

Thanks to my sister in law, in Greece, who told me to put beer in the batter. She also suggested that I put a bit ouzo in there too, to give it an extra flavor. But I decided against it. I didn’t want to be drunk after dinner. It’s enough I had to finish the rest of the beer, that I didn’t use in the batter.

Cooking these dishes

These dishes make quite a mess in the kitchen. Be prepared to wash down your stove, back splash and maybe your floors. It’s much easier to go out and buy fish and chips or even go to a restaurant and enjoy them there. But where is the fun in dirting so many pots and pans and having to clean them up after? (I’m joking here). All joking aside, and besides all the mess I a made, and the fact that oil splattered on my clothes, my hands, and I needed to take a shower after, because I smelled like I came out of the kitchen of a greasy greek restaurant joint, where you hear the waiters shouting "cheeburger, cheeburger" (remember John Belushi on Saturday Night Live), these dishes came out delicious. My husband would have been happy with just spaghetti and plain marinara sauce from a jar. But I had to go all the way and make these dishes. After all they did turn out to be delicious tasting. And if you ask me if I would do it again, yes I would, next year this time or on Greek Palm Sunday when Greeks eat this type of meal again.


Fried Cod in Beer Batter

Makes six servings (about 6 oz each)

1.3 lbs cod fillets

Beer Batter

¾ cup flour

¾ cup beer

2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped

2 tsp fresh parsley finely chopped

½ cup canola oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste (you can add the salt and pepper in the batter. I don’t put much salt on this dish, since fish to begin with is salty).

Rinse the cod fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

In a bowl and with a whisk, mix together the flour, the beer, the fresh dill and the fresh parsley. Mix well, so there are no lumps.

In a non-stick frying pan, add the ½-cup canola oil. Let it heat through, but not too hot. Coat the cod fillets with the beer batter, and drop carefully in the hot oil. When the fillets crisp on the outside, lower the heat and let the fillets cook for a couple more minutes. Make sure that the oil is not too hot, as the batter will burn and the fish will not cook inside. If unsure, take a piece out of the frying pan and cut it with a fork. If it’s flaky, then the fish is cooked. If not, put it back in the frying pan and let it cook a little longer. The cooking time depends on how big the cod fillets are. If the fillets are small then the cooking will take less time, if big it will need more time to cook through.

When all the fillets are fried, place them in a platter lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil. When ready to serve, remove the paper towel or place them in another platter, drizzle some fresh squeezed lemon juice and serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 5.732 oz (162.5g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 334
Calories from Fat 173
Total Fat 19.2g
Saturated Fat 1.5g
Trans Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 54mg
Sodium 79mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.2g
Dietary Fiber 0.5g
Protein 24.3g

Greek Fried Potato Salad

Makes about six servings (about ½ cup each serving)

4 cups boiled potatoes cut in quarters

¼ cup canola oil for frying

2 tbs chopped parsley

¼ cup chopped green onions

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste (about ¼ tsp each – all according to taste)

Boil the potatoes in the microwave or over the stove. For this dish I used about six potatoes, mixed sizes. I peel them, wash them, quarter them, and boil them in the microwave for about 20-30 minutes. The potatoes should be firm to the touch, not mushy but also not undercooked.

When the potatoes are boiled, drain them in a strainer and let them cool, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a frying pan, add the ¼-cup canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, piece by piece, but do not overcrowd the pan. Let them fry until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the frying pan and place them in a bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil. When all the potatoes are fried, let them cool in the bowl.

When the potatoes are cool to the touch, transfer them in another bowl without the paper towel. Add the chopped parsley, green onions, the 3 tbs olive oil, and the lemon juice, along with salt and pepper. Toss and cover, or serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (121.9 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 173
Calories from Fat 103
Total Fat 11.5g
Saturated Fat 1.3g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 8mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.5g
Dietary Fiber 2.6g
Sugars 1.4g
Protein 1.8g

Greek Garlic and Bread Dip - Skordalia

Makes about 8 servings of 1 tbs per serving

2 thick slices of bread, soaked in water (about ¾ cups when all the water is strained out)

3 cloves garlic (about 2 tsp crushed)

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the bread in water for about 2 minutes. Drain the water and squeeze the bread between your hands to strain any excess water.

In a food processor, add the bread and garlic. Mix together and slowly add the ¼ cup olive oil and vinegar. Blend until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate till ready to serve.

This goes well with Fried Cod.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (12.5 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 70
Calories from Fat 62
Total Fat 6.9g
Saturated Fat 1.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 42mg
Total Carbohydrates 2.0g
Dietary Fiber 0.1g
Sugars 0.2g
Protein 0.3g

Baked Butter Beans

Here is a vegetarian dish that I learned from my mother in law.  You will notice that I don’t cook too many meats.  I try to stay away from red meat as much as possible.  On occasion, during summer, I might grill a steak on the BBQ.  A couple of times during the week, I will make dishes without any chicken or pork.  That is also very common in Greek cooking.  The Greek diet does not consist of the three food categories, as is with the American diet.  It is very common here to have the three food groups, meat, starch and vegetable, than it is in the Greek diet.  There are plenty of vegetarian dishes that are rich in protein without having to eat red meat.  An example of that is the baked butter beans.  Beans are also rich in fiber. 

Butter beans are bigger in size than cannellini beans.  They are also meatier, if that’s the correct word.  I went a step further and simplified this dish by using canned butter beans instead of dried butter beans.  Dried butter beans have to be soaked in water overnight, and then cooked for a couple of hours before they come into the soft consistency as the canned beans.  It’s a lot easier to open up a can of butter beans than cooking dried beans.  I make sure and rinse the canned beans under cold water so any sodium will be washed away.  This way I have control of how much salt I can put in the meal.  I still take it easy with the salt, since no matter how much you rinse them off, some of it still stays with the beans. 

You can enjoy this vegetarian dish with a side salad; try a salad with my Ranch dressing with Greek yogurt and some fresh bread.  Then your meal is complete.  

Baked Butter beans

Six servings (approximately 15 oz per serving)

1 cup diced onion

½ cup olive oil

½ cup parsley chopped

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup diced celery

3 15 oz cans butter beans

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 cup water.

Turn oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit. Peel, wash and dice the onion. Set aside. Clean and slice the carrots. Dice the celery. Chop the parsley. Open up the cans of butter beans and rinse under cold water to get rid of any extra sodium.

In an ovenproof pan, add all the vegetables along with the butter beans and the olive oil. Add the salt, pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water. Stir with a spoon to coat everything evenly. Place the pan in the oven. Let it bake for an hour to an hour and a half. All the liquid will be absorbed and the top will be lightly browned and crisp. Remove from the oven, and serve.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 15.764oz(446.9g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 447
Calories from Fat 182
Total Fat 20.2g
Saturated Fat 3.0g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 656mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.2g
Dietary Fiber 13.4g
Sugars 8.8g
Protein 16.6g

Greek Style Seafood with Herbs and Vegetables

Since it's Lent I'm trying to cook dishes that are free of meat or chicken.  Fish is allowed on certain days of the week. Enjoy this hearty seafood soup.  If not during Lent, during a cold rainy day.

10 servings (approximately 1 ½ cups per serving)

½ cup olive oil
1 cup onion chopped
1 tsp garlic chopped
2 cups celery diced
1 ½ cups carrots diced
4 cups potatoes diced
1 cup chopped parsley
1 lbs cod fillets diced
1 lbs large shrimp
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
2 15oz cans water + 1 extra 15oz can water
2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
3 bay leaves
¼ tsp cumin
In a Dutch oven, over high heat pour the ½ cup olive oil. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté, until transparent. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables absorb some of the oil. Add the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes, the two 15oz cans of water, the parsley, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and cumin. Let it come to a boil. Then, turn down the heat to medium and simmer for about one hour until the potatoes are cooked. If you need to add more water, then add the extra 15oz can of water. Depending on what size you diced the potatoes you might need the extra can of water so that the potatoes are cooked.

Towards the last five (5) minutes, add the fish and the shrimp. Let it come to a boil and lower the heat for the last 5 minutes. The fish should be flaky and the shrimp pink colored. Turn off the heat. Serve with some fresh bread.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size  1serving(389.1 g) approximately 1 ½ cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 267
Calories from Fat 109
Total Fat 12.1g
Saturated Fat 1.8g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 113mg
Sodium 853mg 3
Total Carbohydrates 17.7g
Dietary Fiber 4.0g
Sugars 5.3g
Protein 22.5g

Ranch dressing with Greek yogurt

You didn’t think that I was going to buy store bought ranch dressing, did you?

Lately, I’ve been craving a nice crisp romaine salad. It might be that the weather is getting warmer, the leaves on the trees are slowly budding; or it might be that I hear the birds chirping in the morning. Or is it because we changed the time, and it feels that spring is near? It could be any of these things, but I was craving a salad. I am not usually someone who can eat salads all the time. My diet does not consist of a salad. If I want to lose weight, salad is not the meal that I would go for. If I made a salad, it is usually loaded with feta cheese, kalamata olives, boiled beets, or roasted red peppers. And of course loaded with salad dressing. So I found it surprising enough that I craved a salad. Since I watch what I buy, and I don’t like all the preservatives that the store bought salad dressing have, I decided to experiment with ranch dressing. Therefore, I searched on the internet to find a recipe for ranch dressing. Most of them had sour cream and buttermilk. I use skim milk in all my recipes that require milk, even the creamy sauces. I finally found a ranch-dressing recipe on the that Ellie Krieger made. But alas, she used onion powder, and buttermilk, and garlic salt and real mayo. I had to make my own version. I skipped the garlic powder for real shredded garlic, the real mayo, for mayonnaise made with canola oil, the buttermilk for skim milk and her chopped chives for the green part of the scallions. And here it is my version of Ranch dressing. It tastes like the real one without all the preservatives or the calories. Enjoy!!!

Ranch dressing with Greek Yogurt 

Makes 1 ½ cups – about 10 servings of 2 tablespoons each serving

½ cup non fat plain Greek yogurt (like Oikos or Fage)

½ cup skim milk

4 tbsp light mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp garlic shredded with the cheese grater or pressed through a garlic press

¼ cup the green part of green onions, chopped very fine

¼ tsp dry dill

Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve over romaine salad. It is also great for dipping fresh vegetables. If you would like thicker consistency for dipping, reduce the amount of milk to ¼ cup.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1serving(34.6g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 31
Calories from Fat 16
Total Fat 1.8g
Saturated Fat 0.3g
TransFat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 77mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.9g
Dietary Fiber 0.1g
Sugars 1.2g
Protein 1.7g

Greek Style Veggie Pizza

Even though pizza is considered the ultimate Italian dish, it actually originated in ancient Greece.  Ancient Greeks used to cover flat breads with herbs, oil and cheese.  Later on, during Byzantine time, they called it “pita” meaning pie.  And the Romans topped their pizza dough with honey, bay leaves and cheese.  Everyone will argue of where the pizza came from.  Greeks can argue that it is their own invention.  Italians can argue that it originated in their country. In fact, the pizza that we eat today has originated in Italy.  Naples to be precise.  Which leads us to believe that it originated from Greeks, since the city of Naples (Neapolis in Greek) was founded by the Greeks.

During the early 1900’s pizza was introduced to Americans.  Even though pizza was originally Greek, it took a few centuries for Greeks to eat the Italian version of pizza.  When I first had pizza in Greece, many, many years ago, I was not too impressed.  I actually thought that I’d never have pizza again.  But when I tried the American style pizza I was hooked. 

As with everything else, that has progressed, so has the pizza and its toppings.  Traditional pizzas have the basic tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, but that’s not quite the norm any more.  We can have stuffed crust pizza, deep-dish pizza, thin crust, round and square shape, toppings like pineapple and anchovies, or Cajun chicken and pork sausage.  As with everything else in my Greek Fusion cuisine, I had to incorporate something Greek, Italian and American to my pizza.  I give you a Thin Crust Vegetarian Pizza, with roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, and of course mozzarella and feta cheese.  It turned out delicious and quite easy to do. 


Pizza dough from scratch

This will make two (2) 14 inch pizzas

1 packet dry active yeast

1 ¼ cups warm water

Pinch of sugar

1 tsp salt

4 cups flour

2 tbsp olive oil

In 1 ¼ cups warm water dissolve the dry yeast. Add the sugar. Stir till well blended and let it stand for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, sift the flour and the salt together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. With an electric mixer that has a dough hook begin blending the yeast/water mixture into the flour mixture. Add the olive oil. Continue beating until the dough is firm and has absorbed all the liquid. You will know that the dough is ready when it pulls away from the bowl.

On a slightly floured surface, begin kneading the dough for about 10-15 minutes, till the dough is smooth, elastic and springy when trying to pull. Put it in a floured bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ - 2 hours. This will make two (2) 14 inch pizza’s. (You can freeze 1/2 the dough before letting it rise. It will last for about 1 month in the freezer).

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving(34.8g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 87
Calories from Fat 12
Total Fat 1.3g
Saturated Fat 0.2g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 98mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.0g
Dietary Fiber 0.6g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 2.2g

Toppings for Greek style vegetarian pizza from scratch - these ingredients are for one (1) 14" pizza 

12 servings – this will make one (1) 14-inch pizza

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp oregano

1 cup shredded mozzarella

4 roma tomatoes sliced (about 1 cup)

¼ cup red onion thinly sliced

1 small can (4 oz) mushrooms

1 cup artichoke hearts quartered (packed in oil or frozen)

1 cup spinach, washed and roughly chopped

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a 15 inch pizza stone. You can use any 14-15 inch round pizza pan.

Preparing the ingredients:

Wash, pat dry and roughly chop the spinach. Set aside. Shred the mozzarella; set aside. Slice the roma tomatoes and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion. If you are using frozen artichoke hearts, make sure they are defrosted and warmed up by heating them in a little bit of water in the microwave. Crumble the feta cheese and set aside.

Roll out the dough to a round shape. No need to use any flour. The dough will be elastic and will stretch to the round shape. If you are using a pizza stone, make sure that it’s already preheated in the oven. If you are using a pizza pan, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it for a pizza. Some might have a coating on it, and there is no need to brush the pan with oil. If not you might need to, so that the pizza won’t stick to it while baking.

Assemble the pizza:

Brush the pizza dough with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Spread the roma tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, artichokes, spinach and the crumbled feta on top.
The pizza assembled before it goes in the oven 

 Return to oven and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about half ( ½ ) hour or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting it. 

  The pizza hot out of the oven

Nutrition Facts 

Serving Size 1serving(62.5 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 70
Calories from Fat 41          
Total Fat 4.5g
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Cholesterol 11mg
Sodium 141mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.8g
Dietary Fiber 1.4g
Sugars 1.1g
Protein 4.5g

Note: The Nutrition facts are separate for the dough and separate for the toppings.  


Italian cut Green Beans in tomato sauce

Don't be confused by the name "Italian cut." This type of bean is very common in Greece. You will most likely find these in Greece, rather than the string green beans. 

Since Lent has begun for both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, it is common for believers to give up certain foods this time of the year. Greek Orthodox though have a more strict Lent practice than Catholics. Catholics can have fish on Friday where Greek Orthodox on the other hand, has a stricter fast. During Lent, fish, meat, poultry, and even dairy are not permitted (unless someone has specific diet needs and is instructed by his/her doctor. In that situation the priest forgives or rather allows the individual to eat what his diet needs are).

Every year, while I was growing up, I watched my mother follow a very ascetic fast for 40 days prior to our Greek Orthodox Easter. She tried to make dishes that were rich in flavor but without the meat. The green beans in tomato sauce are very rich in flavor. The use of flat leaf parsley gives it a savory and aromatic taste without the bitterness the curly leaf parsley has. The flat leaf is very common in Greece, whereas the curly leaf is not quite popular there.

You can find flat leaf parsley in any supermarket or fresh produce market. It is usually called Italian flat leaf parsley. This dish is great if you want to abstain from meat one day a week; for those who want to give up meat products for Lent, and for strict vegetarians. Serve it along with some fresh crusty Italian bread and you have yourself a healthy meal.

Italian cut green beans in tomato sauce             

Six (6) servings

½ cup olive oil
½ cup diced onion (1 medium sized onion)
2 tsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 12oz bags frozen Italian cut green beans
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 15oz can water
½ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper

In a Dutch oven sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil till transparent.  Add the frozen green beans along with the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Add the one can of water.  Add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper.  Stir all the ingredients together.  Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Simmer for 45 minutes to one (1) hour until the beans are tender.  Serve warm. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size                                         12.007oz(340.4g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories                                                            224
Calories from Fat                                  166                  % Daily Value*
Total Fat                                               18.4g                           28%
Saturated Fat                                       2.6g                             13%
Cholesterol                                           0mg                             0%
Sodium                                                 580mg                         24%
Total Carbohydrates                             14.7g                           5%
Dietary Fiber                                         5.5g                             22%
Sugars                                                 6.6g
Protein                                                 3.6g