Tag Archives: mediterranean

Mama Mia! Greek Night In

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There’s a Greek bistro not too far from where I live called Apollonia.  It rates as one of the casual places I’ve enjoyed locally whose food has had me thinking about it long after I’ve eaten there.  Maybe it’s because I don’t eat Greek food very often, and so my weary taste buds long for something unique.  Or, it could be that the food is just plain delicious.

Valentine’s week (and I have to call it that since my husband treated me to days of lovely surprises) one of my gifts was dinner at Apollonia.  Ohhh, the hummos and the dolmathakia.  The spanakopita and tyropita.  The souvlaki.

Sheer heaven.

Clearly, there was a Greek dinner in the works for us at home after this, and I decided that since the Academy Awards was rapidly approaching, I’d spend the day in the kitchen cooking and watching what my husband calls my “pre-game show” of all things Oscars:  gowns and botox lips, padded rumps and tatooed eyeliner.  You’ve got to love Hollywood at least once a year.

No sooner had I begun the prepping than my oldest son called to ask what we were doing.
“Watching the Oscars and eating Greek food.  Why?”  I asked.
“Because I’m coming over,” he told me and with a quick “See Yah,” he hung up leaving me with my list of what to chop when and Mama Mia running through my mind.  Not the movie — the song.  Well, actually, both.

The connection?  My son is a huge ABBA fan and my husband and I are pretty sappy over the movie, too.  I know.  You can think what you will, but since I was actually around when ABBA’s songs routinely blasted from my car radio, I can be sappy about them if I want.  Besides, who can resist the amazing cerulean water in the film and seriously hunky Pierce Brosnan belting out, “So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me…SOS…The love you gave me nothing else can save me SOS!” to an I want to look like that when I’m 60 Meryl Streep.

Ahhhh….

I see a Greek island vacation in my future.

But in the meantime, I’ll settle for homemade hummus, Briami, and Chicken Souvlaki from Peter of Kalofagas.  With ABBA, of course, and this does involve a bit of dancing barefoot without warning.

I’ve been singing ABBA tunes all day every day for weeks.  In the car, at the grocery store…

Mama Mia.  Here we go again…

I just need a sailboat.

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Easy Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

After that last recipe filled with butter, I felt I needed to post something much, much lighter.  Now I understand that the idea of vegetable soup may not send you into a food swoon, but it is something we enjoy, and this particular recipe is easy, quick, and can be easily adapted to include any vegetable you’d prefer instead of those listed in the ingredients.  Actually, it’s quite nice with the addition of chicken, or beef, or beans as well.  If you’d prefer pasta or rice, that can be added also.

The weather is right for a nice bowl of soup that isn’t loaded with calories, and can be whipped up when you need it.

Does my 15-year-old love it?  Probably not, but he eats it or else.  Actually he’d prefer that it has meat in it, or at least some pasta.  If I serve it with a salad he enjoys as well as garlic bread, it will keep him interested.

“Mediterranean Vegetable Soup” is from Rosie Schwartz’ Whole Foods Guide, a fabulous book that contains more than just recipes.  It’s a source of information about phyto foods or phytochemicals and their positive effect on our bodies in fighting cancer and other illnesses.  No, I don’t work for the publisher, and I don’t know Ms. Schwartz.  I’m not trying to sell anything and don’t get perks from mentioning this particular book.  I’m just someone who enjoys sharing something I find worthwhile and know that as much as I enjoy it, I hope others will as well.

Occasionally, I will compare one of these recipes with something similar from another cookbook or magazine just to check on the fat content.  In this recipe, it’s not even a consideration.  But I’m always pleasantly surprised that these recipes hold up.  They’re tasty and good for us.  They help me get through all the other recipes I make which aren’t always as healthy as I’d like!

Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. zucchini, chopped
1 c. green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes with juice, pureed
5 c. vegetable broth
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 c. chopped spinach or Swiss chard
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a  large pot over med heat.  Add the onions and garlic, sauteeing until they are soft.  Add the carrots, celery, and zucchini and cook, stirring to make sure they are not becoming too brown — about 10 minutes.  Add the green beans, can of tomatoes, veggie broth, basil, parsley, and seasonings.  Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer covered about 30 minutes.

Stir in the spinach or chard and cook an additional 20 minutes.  Check seasoning and grate some fresh Parmesan over each bowl before serving.

Notes: Rosie says that this makes 6-8 servings and that each serving is less than 80 calories!  That’s amazing.  The soup is filling and flavorful.  I tried it with chard this time, but spinach is really great tasting.

  • If you’re really wanting more substance, add a 14-oz. can of drained, rinsed cannellini beans.  They’re really tasty in this!
  • And if you’d like to add pasta, it works best if the pasta is cooked al dente and added toward the end just to heat it up.  I add it when we have left over pasta.
  • If you want to spice it up a bit, shake over some dried red pepper flakes.
  • Shred left over chicken breast and add it at the end to heat it or saute one chicken breast when you’ve just begun the soup.  Let it cool, shred it into bite sized pieces and add them at the end.
  • Ground sirloin even works.  Make sure it’s completely browned through and through and the juices are drained.  Add the meat at the end.