Greek Dinner Menu

What a perfect meal! I had to post each of the recipes so you can also enjoy this delicious menu. A homey, warming dish, the cinnamon chicken is a good choice for a casual supper and definitely tasty enough for company. I served it over gluten free chickpea macaroni noodles accompanied by a tossed Greek salad. Mini baklava bites with a scoop of your favorite ice cream round out the meal. Serves 4-6.

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Chicken Kapama

with a subtle cinnamon flavor

Recipe

2 chicken breasts + 4 thighs, bone in, skin on (or a 2-1/2 to 3 lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used Penzys Vietnamese cinnamon)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic (3 minced, the other 2 left whole)
2 T. olive oil
4 c. yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. water
6-oz. can tomato paste
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 c. Myzithra cheese, grated
Noodles, pasta, or rice for serving

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl mix the ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, then rub all over the chicken pieces. Heat 2 T. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side. You may have to do this in two batches. Don’t crowd the chicken or it will steam instead of getting a good sear. When browned, remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onions and minced garlic to the pan and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onions are softened and golden brown. Add the wine and stir to get up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes, stir in the tomato paste until mixed, then add the water, 2 whole garlic cloves, and the 2 whole cinnamon sticks. Return the chicken to the pan; the liquid should cover about three-quarters of the chicken. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and add more kosher salt or pepper if needed. Serve over noodles or rice, sprinkled with plenty of grated Myzithra cheese.

Freeze any leftover sauce, or use it to top pasta or chicken for lunch the next day.

– inspired by Chef Cat Cora’s Kota Kapama

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Greek Salad

using green beans instead of cucumber

Recipe

1/2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, cut in half crosswise
1 lb. grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 lb. feta cheese
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot, chopped
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 large basil leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the beans in a pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. In a blender or mini processor, combine the red wine vinegar, garlic clove, shallot, mustard, oregano, thyme, and basil and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the blanched green beans, tomato halves, red onion. and crumbled feta. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

– inspired by Chef Michael Psilakis’ Chopped Greek Salad

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Baklava Bites

find phyllo shells in frozen foods section of your grocery store

Recipe

1/2 c. pistachios
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. almonds
1 lemon, zested
1/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 boxes mini phyllo shells, 15 shells each
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. honey

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Put the pistachios, walnuts, and almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly and add to a food processor with the lemon zest, 3 T. sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and melted butter. Pulse to combine.

Take the frozen phyllo shells and place in a mini cupcake pan. If you don’t have a mini cupcake pan, place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Add 1 tsp. of the nut mixture into each shell. Bake at 350-degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the water and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Pour 1 tsp. syrup into each phyllo cup and allow it to soak in. Repeat with another 1 tsp. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Serve at room temperature. Keep the phyllo cup packaging to store any leftover baklava bites. Makes 30.

– Sunny Anderson, Food Network

Broccoli Salad

This is a sweet, sour, crunchy, savory and delicious broccoli salad. Blanch the broccoli first for a minute or two in boiling water, it makes a difference - unless you like your broccoli super crunchy. If you don't have dried cherries, you can substitute dried cranberries or other dried fruit.

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Recipe

6 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked, drained, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 c. mascarpone
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and run under cold water to stop the cooking; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels, and cut into 1-inch pieces (reserve 2 tsp. of the bacon fat).

In a large bowl mix together the mascarpone, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and salt with a whisk until smooth. Add the broccoli, cherries, walnuts, bacon, 2 tsp. of the bacon fat, and gorgonzola. Toss well and serve.

— inspired by Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Frisée aux Lardons

This beautiful salad pairs perfectly with the Thai Red Curry Mussels recipe. Use frisée if you can find it. It wasn't available yesterday when I was searching, so I used escarole which was delicious. You could also substitute arugula, radicchio, or a combination of any slightly bitter green. Top with a poached egg — slightly runny yolk so it mixes with the dressed salad greens, croutons and chopped bacon. Yummmmmm!

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Recipe

1 large head frisée lettuce (or escarole, radicchio, arugula), washed, dried and cut into 3-inch pieces
8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
Baguette - cut up enough to make about 40 small squares for croutons
4 large eggs

Mustard-Garlic Dressing:
1-1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 T. sherry vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil

In a bowl large enough to hold the salad, use a whisk to combine all of the mustard-garlic dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Sauté the bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan and add the baguette croutons and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and turning over so they brown on all sides. Set aside.

Poach the eggs. I cheat and use an egg poacher, but if you're comfortable doing it in a nonstick skillet with 1-1/2 inches of water and 1 T. red wine vinegar, go for it!

To assemble, add the washed and dried greens to the bowl with the dressing in it; toss well. Divide the salad among four dinner plates, top with the poached egg and sprinkle the bacon bits and croutons over the top. Serve immediately.

— Jacques Pépin, "More Fast Food My Way"

Grape, Avocado & Arugula Salad with My Favorite Vinaigrette

This is my favorite salad, as well as my favorite vinaigrette. Change up the ingredients however you want, but the basics need to stay: grapes, avocado, toasted walnuts, crumbled goat cheese and red onion. I had a friend over for lunch and a movie and expanded the ingredients a bit by adding some baked chicken and croutons. Tangy arugula is the preferred green for this salad, but a spring mix works well too as I did here (because I forgot to pick up arugula!).

Recipe

6 cups fresh arugula or mixed spring greens, loosely packed
1 c. halved seedless grapes, red or green
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese
1/2 c. chopped toasted walnuts (or pecans)
half a small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

White Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Add the vinaigrette ingredients to a jar and shake to combine; or put in a bowl and whisk.

Add salad ingredients to a large bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette and mix well.

Oriental Chicken Cabbage Salad with Ramen Crunch

My friend Katie has been making this salad for years and it's one of my favorites. Fresh thinly sliced cabbage is combined with red pepper, green onion and cooked chicken breast, mixed with an Asian-inspired dressing using the ramen flavor packet. The ramen noodles are broken up and toasted in the oven with chopped almonds and sesame seeds for a flavorful crunch. Try it, I think you'll like it as much as I do! Simply omit the chicken for your vegan friends (and the Nissan brand Oriental Ramen is also vegan).

Recipe

1 package ramen noodles, reserve seasoning packet (I use Nissin brand Oriental ramen)
1/2 c. whole almonds, roughly chopped (or use slivered almonds)
2 T. sesame seeds
3 c. thinly sliced or shredded red or green cabbage (about half a medium head, core removed)
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces, seasoned with salt & pepper and pan fried in olive oil & butter until done and golden brown
3 thinly sliced green onions
1 red pepper, chopped
3 T. vegetable oil
2 T. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. Break up the ramen noodles into small chunks and place on a baking sheet with the almonds and sesame seeds. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes until golden. Cool. Combine cabbage, chicken, onion and pepper in a large bowl.

Make the dressing by combining the ramen seasoning packet with the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and salt & pepper. Pour over the salad. Add the toasted ramen, almonds and sesame seeds and mix well. Serves 6.
 

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Marcona Almonds and Pecorino

A friend of mine went to Bottega for lunch in San Francisco and raved about the brussels sprouts salad. I've been wanting to make it ever since, so it was about time! What a citrusy-fresh, crunchy, all around yummy salad - why did I wait so long?

I cheated a bit on the prep: the original recipe calls for shaving six dozen brussels sprouts with a mandoline to get about 8-9 cups, but instead I bought two 10-ounce packages of them already shaved at Trader Joe, as well as Truffle Marcona Almonds which are delicious! This recipe generously serves 6.

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Recipe

2 lemons, unpeeled, cut in quarters
1/2 naval orange, peeled
1 large shallot, peeled
1-1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
10 hard boiled eggs, peeled
(2) 10-ounce packages shaved brussels sprouts
3/4 c. Marcona almonds, finely chopped
1/2 c. grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

For the vinaigrette use an electric juicer to extract the juice from the lemons, orange and shallot. Pour the juice in a medium bowl and vigorously whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed, and whisk again. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to three days).

Sieve the eggs. I used a ricer and squished three eggs at a time. Put in a bowl. If preparing the salad later, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. All of your ingredients should be nice and cold (except the almonds of course).

When ready to serve, put the shaved brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Add the sieved eggs and chopped almonds (reserving a few tablespoons of the almonds to sprinkle on top) and toss. I find it's best to use your hands for mixing. Pour on about 1 cup of the vinaigrette and toss again. Spoon into individual, preferably chilled bowls, sprinkle on some of the reserved chopped almonds, and top with the grated pecorino. Spoon on a little more of the vinaigrette and serve.

– "Michael Chiarello's Bottega"