Easter Recipes to Enjoy- Appetizers and Side Dishes

(Photo by Eurokinissi)

As family and friends gather to celebrate, enjoy some tasty appetizers while the lamb finishes roasting and serve some flavorful side dishes along with the main course.

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil, plus tablespoon additional to oil pan

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 pounds lean ground lamb

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup water

1 large egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Transfer the cooked onion to a mixing bowl, and allow to cool slightly. Oil a broiler pan with the remaining tablespoon of oil or as needed and set aside. Add the breadcrumbs, ground lamb, parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, garlic, water, and the beaten egg to the mixing bowl. Mix to combine all the ingredients. Shape into 1-inch meatballs and place on the prepared broiler pan. Bake in the preheated 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until done. Serve with side dishes of your choice.

Halloumi and Veggies Appetizer

1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 bell peppers, color of your choice, cut into strips

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

6-8 whole wheat pitas

1 pound halloumi, cut into 2-inch strips 

1 cup hummus store bought or homemade

2 cups baby arugula

Add the cabbage, peppers, olive oil and vinegar to a bowl and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Toast the pitas in the oven or toaster as preferred. In a large frying pan, fry the halloumi for 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden on both sides. Cut pitas in half and spread with some hummus, top with the cabbage and peppers, halloumi, and some of the arugula. Serve immediately.

Saganaki Bites with Sun-Dried Tomato Topping

 

12 cup sun-dried tomatoes, dry, not oil-packed, sliced

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup Kalamata olives, pits removed, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

12 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound kasseri cheese, cut into 1½” cubes

14 cup flour

1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint leaves

Olive oil, for frying

 

For the topping, place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Soak until soft for 15 minutes, then drain. Add the tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the olives, oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth, then set aside.

Heat the oil for frying in a deep skillet to 375 degrees F. Dip cheese cubes in cold water and dredge in flour. Working in batches, fry the cheese cubes, turning them over once, until all sides are golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and top each saganaki bite with some of the sun-dried tomato topping garnish with the chopped mint.

Orzo with Lemon

5 cups cooked orzo

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice, such as kefalotyri

Combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add additional grated cheese, if preferred, and serve immediately.

Bulgur Salad

2 cups water

2 cups uncooked bulgur

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups diced plum tomatoes

1 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the bulgur. Stir and then allow to cook until the water is absorbed. Transfer the cooked bulgur to a large mixing bowl and add the tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, pepper, and the cooked chickpeas. Stir well and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course.

To cook chickpeas, sort and rinse, then soak overnight in a large deep pot. Drain the soaking liquid and add fresh, cold water to cover the chickpeas by about two inches. Bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to a simmer, and add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling chickpeas. Continue cooking until tender. If desired, add an onion, cut in half, two peeled carrots, and two celery stalks, to the simmering chickpeas to add more depth of flavor. The cooked chickpeas can be eaten as a soup with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or drain and use in salads.

Marinated Potato Salad

5-6 medium Yukon gold or red new potatoes

1 large red onion, chopped

2 small jars (6 ounces each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips

2-3 medium roma tomatoes, sliced

Black olives, of your choice

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Wash the potatoes and place them in a large deep pot with enough water to cover them and bring to a boil, over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add a pinch of salt, and continue simmering the potatoes until they are tender, but not disintegrated. When the potatoes have reached the desired tenderness, remove from heat. A cup of cold water will stop the cooking process. Drain the potatoes and while they are still warm, cut into cubes, placing them in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. The potato salad may be served immediately, or cover tightly and keep refrigerated until needed even up to a day in advance, just give it a stir every so often to make sure the flavors are evenly distributed.

Romaine Salad with Feta

1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

2-3 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced

2-3 roma tomatoes, sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 cup feta, Dodonis or Arahovas

Rinse the lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and pat dry with a paper towel or spin dry in a salad spinner. In a large salad bowl, toss together the sliced romaine lettuce, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and the oregano. Season with oregano, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add the red wine vinegar, drizzle with Greek extra virgin olive oil, and toss the salad. Add feta cut into small, bite-sized chunks or in one large piece on top of the salad. Drizzle with additional Greek extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of dried oregano, and serve.