Kalispera, my dear ones! Kalispera!
Lately, I have been in a “Greek” mood. My husband is Greek, my nouna is Greek, and my spiritual father is Greek! Many dear Greek friends around me! My husband and I often dream and talk about having a cafe on one of the islands in Greece. I am someone who likes to learn the language of the country, and not expect everyone to speak English just because I do not understand them. When I was in Aruba, I learned some Papiamento. Being raised multilingual, I have an interest in learning the languages of the world. And now… it is Greek! When meeting my husband, I didn’t know much Greek except for logos, agape, and eros. Since we’ve been together, I have made an effort, especially now.
Side tracking….in addition to learning Greek, I have taken it upon myself to learn Slavonic and Russian. Aside from cafe reasons, I would like to understand the Divine Liturgies in their native tongues; Slavonic, Russian, and Greek being the most popular, although you have liturgy services in different languages. As of right now, it appears I know more Greek food terms and very little Orthodox phrases, except Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy).
I know it sounds contradictory- eating on a fasting day?! Yes! Today is a fasting day; Wednesdays and Fridays we fast from certain foods, such as meat and dairy and eat light. One does not only fast from certain foods, but one also fasts from passions and focuses more on prayer and humility. But for the sake of time and limited knowledge, I will focus on the food aspect– as a newly baptized Orthodox Christian, I am learning more and more. My husband and I “fast” 365 days a year, so we focus on abstaining from the passions perspective. I try not to react over spilled milk…or spilled cinnamon as was the case this past weekend… I could have reacted over the spilled cinnamon more calmly. As I write this, I am thinking of the scene from “Birdcage” when Robin Williams character, Armand, is teaching Nathan Lane’s character, Albert, how to smear mustard on toast like a man. Nathan Lane’s character pierces a piece of toast and over reacts. Armand, Robin Williams character, replies with, “You react like a man, calmly and you tell yourself, “Albert, you pierced the toast, so what! It’s not the end of the world!” And Albert replies, “You’re right! There’s no reason to get frantic. I can always order more toast!” We had a cinnamon crisis at home and one or two people MAY have over reacted. The next morning it occurred to me, I’ll just say, agapemou, we spilled the cinnamon (or whatever it is), so what! It’s not the end of the world! You fall down, but you get back up! We don’t let our passions take over us. Let’s just hope I remember this for next time…
Being in this “Greek mode”, I was inspired to eat Greek today. I made melintzanosalata me maidano yesterday. It is an eggplant and parsley spread. I followed the recipe from “The Foods of the Greek Islands” by Agalaia Kremezi, a Julia Child award winner. It is really easy to make but you have to be patient. Why? This tastes much better the next day! You can eat it the same day but it is better to be patient and to eat it hours later or, preferably, the next day. The flavors of garlic and parsley and the eggplant mold together. I like to add a splash of fresh lemon juice before serving and a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors and smear it on pita! In addition, I added some dolmades; this I do not know how to make from scratch so I bought it from my local Whole Foods.
If you are fasting or in a rush to make a quick meal, this is a go-to meal!
Eggplant and parsley spread, Melintzanosalata me maidano
Makes 6 – 8 servings (about 3 cups)
- 2-3 large eggplant (about 2 pounds total)
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus a few leaves for garnish
- 3 scallions (white and most green parts), chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, quartered
- 2 Tbsp capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed, drained (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, diced, drained (optional)
- Slices of country bread, toasted if desired
- Preheat the broiler.
- Rub the eggplants with a little of the oil, place on a baking sheet and broil, turning often, for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the skin chars and turns black all over. Let the eggplants cool, then peel them and chop the flesh; drain in a colander.
- In a blender or a food processor, combine 1 cup of the parsley leaves, the scallions, 2 Tbsp vinegar, half of the remaining oil and the garlic and process into a smooth paste.
- Finely chop the remaining parsley leaves. Place the eggplant flesh in a medium bowl and stir in the parsley-scallion mixture, capers (if using) and the remaining oil. Taste and season with vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Just before serving, fold in the tomatoes, if using, into the eggplant mixture. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with parsley leaves and serve with the bread.
- Pita bread or gluten free bread
- 1 lemon
When making lunch, toast the pita to desired preference. On a plate, add your melintzanosalata, dolmades, and pita (once cooked). Squeeze some lemon juice and add salt according to taste! Enjoy!
Note: I used 3 eggplants. Two were not enough for us eggplant fans at home! I tried this dish with cilantro, instead of parsley, because it was what i had on hand. my personal preference is parsley- it works much better with this dish and tastes like an authentic melintzanosalata.
Parsley is a good source for manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B 1 (Thiamine), vitamin B 2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), and vitamin K.
20 calories/1 cup serving (raw, cubed)
Lemon juice, especially when added to greens, add brightness to the dish. Lemons contain magnesium and phytochemcials such as limonoids and terpenes. Limonoids contain detoxification properties and can help conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention. Terpenes contain anticancer properties and can help cancer prevention and hormone balance.
20 calories/medium lemon (raw, with peel)
Scallions are a good plant based source for potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.
35 calories/1 cup serving (raw, chopped)
I consider garlic to be a superfood; superfood does not always have to break our wallet or be an ingredient that comes from a land abroad, like acai, goji, or golden berries, which are typically visualized in peoples minds when they hear the word “superfood”. Sometimes it is grown in our very own garden.
Garlic is a good natural plant based source of copper, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
Studies have shown that the daily consumption of between 7 – 28 cloves of raw garlic may help prevent cholesterol buildup and stomach cancer. While using one or 2 cloves a day may not have the same effect, garlic in this quantity can work miracles on bland food.
5 calories/clove (raw)
Tomatoes are a great plant based source for carotenoids, vitamin B3, vitamin C, vitamin D, and potassium.
Calories: 35 per 1 cup serving (chopped, raw)
- “The Foods of the Greek Islands: Cooking and Culture at the Crossroads of the Mediterranean”, Aglaia Kremezi
- “Vegetarian Flavor Bible”, Karen Page
- “Prescription for Natural Healing”, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
- “Prescription for Natural Healing”, James. E. Balch, MD
- “Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition”, Paul Pitchford, 3rd Edition
- “Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible”, Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D
I am not a doctor and do not make any medical claims. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.