My husband, Vince, and I love Greek food! When we travel we always look for authentic Greek restaurants, and when we entertain we often host Greek-themed dinner parties. We like to begin our Greek-inspired evenings with Greek Tigers. If you have
not yet tasted licorice-flavored ouzo, you must! It’s available at your local liquor store. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is a delicious and easy hors d’oeuvre. One of our all time favorite Greek dishes is Souvlaki. The classic shish kebab is prepared by marinating cubes of beef, lamb, or pork in a red wine vinegar and lemon juice marinade. Garlic and oregano give the flavor a boost along with a dose of salt and black pepper. The meat needs a few hours to marinate in the refrigerator, but the final grilling only takes about 10 minutes. Greek Tortellini Salad is the perfect accompaniment! Refrigerated tortellini is combined with diced tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, fresh parsley, black olives, pepperoncini peppers and Feta cheese and then tossed with a Greek vinaigrette. The grand finale, Walnut Baklava, is a traditional Greek pastry that’s very simple to make. Preparation can be a bit time consuming but the end result is well worth the effort. I highly recommend this meal for a special evening with good friends. Opa!
1/2 cup ouzo
1-1/2cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Put all ingredients with ice cubes in a martini shaker, shake and strain into double shot
glasses. Serves 6 to 8.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 garlic cloves
1 (6-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with pita chips. Serves 6 to 8.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 medium clove garlic, minced
4 pounds sirloin, lamb, or pork, cubed
Salt, pepper, and oregano, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate for two to six hours. Preheat grill. Place meat on skewers. Grill skewers for 10 minutes, turning several times. Serves 6 to 8.
Greek Tortellini Salad
1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
5 Roma tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1 (4-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers, drained
1/2 cup bottled Greek vinaigrette
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
4 ounces Feta cheese crumbles
Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain well. Cut tomatoes into large chunks. Remove seeds from cucumber and cut into large chunks. Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Serves 8 to 10.
1 (16-ounce) package frozen phyllo dough
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small cinnamon stick
4 cups (1 pound) walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups butter, melted
Thaw frozen phyllo dough in refrigerator, according to package directions. Combine 1
1/2 cups sugar and next 4 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium
heat. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Discard cinnamon stick and chill syrup
mixture in the refrigerator. Process walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish
with melted butter. Reserve 4 sheets of phyllo dough for top of baklava. Layer 4 sheets
of phyllo in dish, brushing each sheet of dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with a
portion of the walnut mixture. Continue layering with 3 sheets of phyllo, brushing each
with melted butter and sprinkling third sheet with walnut mixture until all of the
phyllo dough and walnut mixture are used. Top with reserved 4 sheets of phyllo
dough, brushing each with melted butter. Cut into diamond-shaped pieces. Pour any
remaining butter over top. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30
minutes. Lower heat to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Pour
chilled syrup evenly over hot pastry. Cool completely. Cut through diagonals again
before serving. Serves 15 to 20.
The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of the cookbook, Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com . She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.