Mediterranean Holiday Recipes: Greek Style
What would have the original Thanksgiving looked like had the Greeks settled in America? The turkey would have been grilled with fresh herbs and olive oil, potatoes roasted with fresh lemons and oregano, braised vegetables with tomatoes and garlic, and side dishes of kalamata olives, feta cheese, and pita bread. Dessert would have been fruit, nuts, a small plate of cookies, or
the occasional baklava. While the Greeks were not in America then, they arrived in time to spread the tenets of the Mediterranean diet. It’s not really a “diet” but a healthy way of eating for the rest of your life. It focuses less on meat and more on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy oils.
Thanksgiving is a great place to start making positive food choices – and the best part is that it is not that hard to incorporate these foods into your meal. In fact, many recipes can be made ahead of time and just reheated.
A hummus board with different types of raw vegetables, whole grain crackers, olives, feta cheese, and vegetarian grapevine leaves can be created easily from items found in the grocery store in lieu of high-calorie, high-fat appetizers.
Instead of green bean casserole, braised green beans with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fresh mint are a better option.
Greek-style lemon potatoes can be baked the day before and simply reheated in the oven. This makes an interesting change from the traditional mashed potatoes.
Fresh fruit is also a welcome addition in the midst of all of the holiday desserts.
Change is never easy. It is hard for people to give up their favorite foods around the holidays. But making one small change each year can lead to more positive changes and a healthier lifestyle all year long.
Braised Greek-style Green Beans
- 2 medium-sized onions, red or yellow, chopped
- 1 (16 oz) can whole tomatoes, chopped (can substitute equal amounts of fresh tomatoes)
- 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint or 1-2 tbsp dried mint
- 1⁄3 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbsp. Dried
- 2 1⁄2 lbs. Green bean, snapped in half
- 1 peeled Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 large red onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put onions in a large pot with tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Add 2 cups water (note: I rinse out the cans with the water to save the tomato flavor).
- Then add garlic, 1⁄2 tsp. salt, 1⁄2 tsp. Black pepper, mint, and parsley. Let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add washed beans and potato to the pot and let cook for 15 minutes, covered with a slight crack.
- Add olive oil and sugar, stir, and let cook until beans are soft and tender for another 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and let cool slightly before serving.
Beans can be refrigerated if prepared ahead.
Greek-style Lemon Potatoes
- 5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into thick 3/4-inch wedges
- 1 tsp. turmeric (optional: gives a golden color to potatoes)
- 1 (32 oz) container REGULAR chicken broth. Note: Do not use low-sodium, you want the salt to flavor the potatoes
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 large lemon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Put potato wedges into a large roasting pan.
- Mix turmeric (if using) with chicken broth and pour over potatoes.
- Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and season with pepper, onion powder, and oregano.
- Tightly cover the pan with foil and bake for one hour.
- Test potatoes with a fork; you want the potatoes to be just tender. A fork should be able to enter the potato easily. Cook for another 15 minutes if not done.
- Uncover the potatoes and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Elaine Dukakis-Berardi, MS, RD, LDN | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I enjoy working in long-term care because I develop relationships with residents. They become like extended family. I like being the voice for those who have no voice to ensure they get the best care possible while at healthcare community facilities. I also bake banana and pumpkin bread for their coffee hours whenever possible to bring a smile to their faces.”
Elaine has been with HCSG for almost five years. Originally from Chelmsford, MA, she received her BS in Home Economics/Journalism and MS in Nutrition/Dietitics-Institutional Food Service Management from the University of Georgia. She also graduated with a degree in culinary arts from the CT Culinary Institute. Outside of work, Elaine loves to explore all things to do with food. She is the co-author of From Yiayia’s Kitchen: Beloved Family Recipes cookbook.
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