Greek

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

So I MISSED Memorial Day.  I didn’t miss it in the sense that I lost track of time and completely forgot about it – no, I missed it in the sense that I had 4.5 days from work and got totally lost in my vacation bliss.  Seriously, we spent most of the weekend outdoors and grilling out for dinner EVERY night (that was the only must in our daily agendas).  It.  Was.  Wonderful.

So, I didn’t get this to you in time for Memorial Day Weekend festivities, but its okay, because SUMMER JUST STARTED! Hip, hip hooray!  Keep those grills hot, my friends – I’ve got lots of grilling recipes for you this summer!  This one is excellent and a healthier alternative to beef burgers this summer.  The light and fresh Mediterranean flavors are awesome for summer – serve with a glass of Sauvigon Blanc and some Grilled Greek Potatoes (coming soon).

Anywhosers, I had some leftover baba ganoush and decided we needed something else to eat it with besides Naan (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Naan, but I probably shouldn’t make a meal out of it multiple days in a row).  These were awesome and the baba complimented the flavors of the burger perfectly – I mean, I did design it that way so I’m glad it worked!

So spice up your summer cookout and make you some Mediterranean Turkey Burgers…STAT!  Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. lean, ground turkey
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3.5 oz. crumbled, soft goat cheese
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ c. fresh baba ganoush
  • Naan
  • Lettuce leaves, optional

Under the broiler, roast the red pepper until charred.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins, julienne and set aside.

In a large bowl combine goat cheese with lemon juice, salt, cumin, oregano, thyme, onion powder, and garlic.  Add in ground turkey and mix well.  Divide into four even patties and allow to sit in the fridge 15 minutes before grilling over medium heat until cooked thoroughly.

To serve, spread baba ganoush on naan, top with lettuce, burger, roasted red peppers, and an additional piece of naan.  Serve immediately.

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Categories: Entrees, Greek, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pastitsio: Attempt I

Branden loves Pastitsio and ever since his favorite Greek restaurant closed its doors forever, he has been yearning for a Pastitsio that even compares.  There are a million different recipes for Pastisio, some with beef, some with lamb; some with a thick red sauce, some with a creamy bechamel.  Branden and I both prefer the bechamel variety with lamb (or a lamb/beef combo), but we’ve been pretty hard pressed to find a recipe that comes close to what we like.  We have finally found a recipe though that is a good starting point.  I figured I’d start with posting the original recipe because we did follow it completely (okay, so we added an additional 1/2 lb. of meat – and swapped veal for a beef/lamb combo, but I swear that’s it!!).

This recipe was good, but we have some ideas for the next time…starting with the bechamel.  It was fine, but lacking a tad in flavor.  Next time, the plan is to add some white pepper and a bit more nutmeg.  We also couldn’t find the Greek Kefalotyri cheese, so we went with a young parm and I just don’t think it was sharp enough.  We’ll be moving towards a slightly sharper parm (or driving the distance to track down Kefalotyri) for a bit more flavor.  For the meat “sauce,” we decided we needed a bit more wine, more garlic and more salt…and maybe a pinch more of rosemary.

Now don’t get me wrong, this recipe was very good as written, we just were looking for something a bit different.  Its all about personal preference when cooking.  Aaaaaand trying to recreate food memories.  We’ll get there…eventually.

By the way, here’s the original recipe.  This guy’s blog is pretty cool and has some authentic Greek recipes…reminds me of my month in Greece.  Sigh.  Enjoy!

Categories: Entrees, Greek, Pasta, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Taste of the Med: Greek Lemon-Dill Grilled Chicken Salad

I found this recipe on Weight Watcher’s website while looking for something to do with the chicken breasts I had pulled out of the freezer.  I was looking for something fresh and light for a Thursday night and this seemed like the perfect recipe.

Ever since spending a month in Greece a few years ago, I have yearned to recreate some of the flavors I experienced.  This recipe got me a few steps closer with the lemon-dill grilled chicken that is reminiscent of chicken souvlaki.  Branden and I both really enjoyed this salad and it was suprisingly really filling.  The fresh flavors made this an instant summer time hit that would be beautiful served at a intimate dinner with friends in the back yard.  Execution was a cinch and I can’t say I’d change anything about this recipe (except maybe add some more cucumbers because we pretty much devoured them!).

Enjoy!

  • 6 TBS water
  • 1 1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 1/2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast
  • 4 c. romaine lettuce, thickly shredded
  • 1 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. roasted red peppers, packed in water, diced
  • 1 cup English cucumber, sliced
  • 10 medium Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 1/2 TBS fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 medium lemon, cut into wedges for garnish
  1. In small bowl, combine water, oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; remove 1/4 cup of dressing and place in a large glass bowl.
  2. Add chicken to bowl and turn to coat; cover bowl and refridgerate at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.  Cover and refridgerate remaining lemon mixture for dressing.
  3. Grill chicken, turning as needed, until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Place lettuce on a serving platter; arrange vegetables, chickpeas, chicken, olives, and cheese on top.  Stir dill into reserved dressing; drizzle over salad.
Categories: Entrees, Greek, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lighten Up: Pastitsio

I found this recipe while clicking around the Weight Watchers website looking for healthy recipes in which use some leftover red wine I had.  Branden loves Pastitsio and isn’t home this week, so I figured I’d give this “skinny” version a shot so if it was terrible, I didn’t have to listen to him whine about how “diet” food doesn’t have any flavor.  surprisingly, this recipe wasn’t too bad at all!

So what makes this version healthier?  First of all, the use of 93/7 ground beef helps out a bit in terms of fat compared to the traditional ground lamb.  The other obvious difference between this recipe and its full-fat counterpart is that fact that this recipe only uses 8 oz. of dry pasta instead of a whole pound.  Less pasta, less carbs (which usually translates to less happy in my mind, but there’s enough other stuff going on here that you don’t miss it…unless you’re starving).  Next, this recipe replaces whole milk with fat free evaporated milk and cuts out most of the butter traditionally used.  I know what you’re thinking, that’s the good stuff.  Honestly, I was pretty shocked myself, but this recipe works out pretty well.  While I obviously prefer the full-fat version, this is a pretty decent substitute that I don’t feel guilty eating.  I might actually make it again for Branden…

Before we go on to the recipe, I have a couple comments.  First of all, while this recipe isn’t overly difficult, it does take time.  I think total I spent about 1.5 hours preparing this meal.  Second, I made a couple changes based on preference and stubbornness:

  1. I used more wine then called for mostly because I wanted to get rid of the wine I had left (I didn’t want to have to find another recipe to use red wine in and I certainly wasn’t dumping it).  I probably ended up using closer to 3/4 c. of wine and honestly would probably do it again.
  2. I have to be in the right mood for whole wheat pasta, so I used enriched white pasta instead.  Branden and I really like Ronzoni’s Smart Pasta (in the purple box)- it has all the nutritional values of whole wheat pasta, but looks and tastes just like traditional white pasta.
  3. I added more salt and about 1/4 tsp. white pepper to the white sauce.  Without these additions, I thought it was going to be a bit bland.

 Pastitsio

  • 1 lb raw lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. canned tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c. red wine, dry
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 8 oz. uncooked whole-wheat pasta, such as penne
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 c. fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 TBS butter or margarine
  • 2 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350º.  Coat a 9×12 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

To make meat sauce, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook beef and onion, stirring frequently, until meat is brown and onion is tender, about 10 minutes; drain off fat.  Stir in tomato sauce, wine, and cinnamon.  Bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.  Combine 1 beaten egg, 3/4 c. of evaporated milk and cooked pasta in a large bowl; toss to combine and set aside.

To make cream sauce, melt butter or margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Gradually add 1 1/2 c. of evaporated milk, cook, stirring until thickened and slightly bubbly, about 5-8 minutes.  Very gradually stir in 1 beaten egg and egg whites into hot milk mixture (be careful not to scramble the eggs); set aside.

Layer half of pasta mixture in prepared dish; spread with meat sauce and sprinkle with 1/4 c of cheese.  Top with remaining pasta mixture, pour cream sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for about 15 minutes more or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let stand 15 minutes before slicing into 8 pieces.

Categories: Entrees, Greek, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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