Greek & Mediterranean Foods with Chef Jeanne Rafetto-Tentis

TZATZIKI                                                                              Makes 5 cups
 
4 c plain yogurt, whole or low fat
2 cucumbers, unpeeled and seeded
2T plus 1 t kosher salt
1 c sour cream
2T champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
¼ c lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 lemons)
2T olive oil
1T garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 cloves)
1T fresh dill
¼ t freshly ground pepper
 
Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve and set it over a bowl.
 
Grate the cucumber and toss it with 2T salt; place it in another sieve and set it over a bowl.  Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours so they can drain.
 
Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl.  Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumbers as you can and add to the yogurt. 
 
Mix in sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1 t salt and pepper.  You can serve it immediately, but it is better to allow it to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours the flavors to blend.
 
As a part of a light summer meal it is a cool and satisfying salad; it is also terrific with pita bread as a dip.  My friend uses it as a sandwich filling for a light lunch (similar to cucumber sandwiches).  It can be prepared days ahead of time.
 
GREEK COUNTRY SALAD                                                           Serves 6
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
 
 
 
6 handfuls of mixed baby greens
½ pint grape tomatoes, halved
½ English cucumber, scraped with a zester & sliced
½ red onion, sliced thin
6 oz. Greek feta cheese, cubed
12 Kalamata olives, pitted
2T fresh mint, chopped fine
2T fresh oregano, chopped fine
¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
2T fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), optional
12 anchovy fillets, optional
 
 
Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
 
Place tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta cheese in the bottom of a large salad bowl.  Dress with lemon, oil mixture.  Toss to mix thoroughly.
 
Sprinkle with mint and oregano, but do not mix.
 
Place greens on top and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Toss all ingredients together just before serving.
 
Plate on individual plates and top with a dolmas and 2 anchovy fillets, if using
 
 
YOGURT w/ HONEY
Yiaourti me Meli
(yee-ah-OOR-tee meh MEH-lee)
 
In many Greek restaurants, this classic dessert is served compliments of the house.  Both yogurt and honey are good for the digestive system and the combined tastes are delicious.  It is worth it to try to find the original thick Greek yogurt available at some grocery stores and specialty markets.
 
 
 
Single serving:
 
 
 
½ – ¾ c of strained Greek yogurt per serving
1-2 t of Greek thyme honey or other flavorful honey
Crushed Walnuts, almonds or pistachios (optional)
 
 
In individual serving bowls, dish yogurt, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with nuts. 
 
LAMB RAGU WITH CAVATAPPI                                     Serves 4
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
 
 
Meat Sauce
2T extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. lean lamb or beef, ground
½ c red wine
1c beef stock
3T tomato paste
2t cinnamon, ground
1T fresh mint, chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
 
½ lb. cavatappi or any tubular dried pasta such as, penne or elbow.
 
In a large skillet, heat oil.  Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute or so until garlic is cooked but not browned.   Increase heat and add meat.  Cook until browned.  Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Drain fat from skillet.  Put meat back into pan and add the wine.  Cook over high heat for 1 minute or until it is nearly evaporated.  Add the stock, tomato paste, mint, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until sauce is reduced and thickened. 
 
Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.  Drain.
 
Add the pasta to the ragu and toss until meat sauce is incorporated. 
 
Serve with a Greek style salad.

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