A Greek Dinner

Leave a comment

October 29, 2014 by NS

I made a Greek-inspired dinner last night. I am hesitant to call it Greek, as I am not too familiar with Greek cuisine and don’t want to perpetuate unfounded American stereotypes, but I don’t think it’s too far off. There were three dishes: tzatziki, meatballs, and a salad. If you’re making tzatziki, you should do it first, because it needs to sit for a while so the flavors can become infused in the yogurt. The tzatziki should rest for at least an hour, preferably longer.

Tzatziki
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (not sweetened!)
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
(optional) ground black pepper to taste

Peel and seed the cucumbers. Chop the garlic and cucumbers and dill roughly and put them in a food processor. Chop finely in the food processor. (You can also mince all of the solid ingredients manually, if you prefer chunkier tzatziki.) Add the salt and mix well. Allow to stand for a few minutes; the salt should pull some water out of the cucumbers, which you can then pour off. This prevents the tzatziki from getting too watery.

Now mix the spices, lemon juice, olive oil, and the chopped vegetable matter together until evenly mixed. Cover and put in the fridge. Let rest for at least 1 hour.

I like garlic so I put in a lot. You can do this with half as much garlic and it should still be fine.

Note: Greek yogurt is just strained yogurt. Middle Eastern and Indian yogurt is typically also strained, and you can use that too. Supposedly you can also strain regular yogurt yourself at home, using a cheesecloth or whatever, but I’ve never tried this myself. It sounds messy.

Sorry it's blurry.

A bowl of tzatziki.

Greek meatballs
1lb ground meat (I used 60% lamb, 40% beef)
1/2 small red onion
3 tbsp olive oil + 3 tbsp olive oil
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper as you like it
1/2 cup flour

Mince the onion and garlic as finely as possible. I did this in a food processor, but I think it’s fine to do by hand. Mix together all the ingredients except the flour and the second 3 tbsp of olive oil, until well mixed. Form the meat mixture into meatballs and roll them in the flour*. Cook the meatballs on medium heat in the remaining olive oil, rolling them around so that they cook evenly on all sides. How long it takes depends on the size of your balls; I made large meatballs and it probably took around 10 minutes for them to get cooked all the way through.

*I don’t know why people do this. I did it because all the “Greek meatballs” recipes I looked at online suggested it, but I’ve made meatballs of various kinds in the past and never dredged them in flour, and I never had problems before. I think the flour causes the meatballs to have more of a hard, crispy outside shell. You can consider whether you find this texture desirable.

Again, I put in a lot of garlic; you can do less if you want. Many recipes suggest taking fresh bread and softening it in milk before adding it to the meatballs, rather than using bread crumbs. I think this would be nice as well, but I already had bread crumbs and wanted to use them.

meatballs

Greek salad
I call this Greek, but it was really inspired by my Bulgarian friend who used to serve tomatoes and feta all alone as a simple salad. This sort of salad is popular all around that area, as far as I can tell.

2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups cucumber
1/2 small red onion
1 cup feta
2 tbsp olive oil
ground black pepper to taste

I halved the cherry tomatoes, but if they’re really small you can leave them intact, and if they’re huge you might want to do quarters. I washed the cucumber but did not peel or seed it. I chopped it into about 1cm thick slices and then quartered the slices. I chopped the onion into thin short strips. I cut the feta into rectangular pieces, but if you have crumbly feta, you can crumble it. This was to create a variety of shapes and textures in the salad, which I think is important for a simple salad. Then just toss all these ingredients together, drizzle on some olive oil, add pepper if you like that, and you’re done!

For a simple salad like this, quality of ingredients is very important. The tomatoes are the highlight, so make sure your tomatoes are fresh and good quality.

Good tomatoes are important.

A bowl of Greek salad.

Advertisements

Stir the pot!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Recent Posts

Enter your email address for notification of new posts.

Join 33 other followers

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: