Classic, Tasty Biftekia with Salad and Green Beans

Homemade biftekia. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

As the temperatures start to rise and spring transitions into summer, enjoy some quick, yet delicious meals with an emphasis on Greek flavor. A classic on Greek grills everywhere, flavorful biftekia can be seasoned and garnished in a variety of ways. Try them with your favorite blend of herbs and spices to personalize the recipe and enjoy. If the weather is not cooperating for outdoor grilling, the biftekia can be baked in the oven or cooked under the broiler. Often served alongside fried potatoes, biftekia are delicious served with a salad, seasonal vegetables, or even as a sandwich.

Biftekia

  • 2 pounds ground beef sirloin, or pork, or a mixture of the two
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 2-3 medium to large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tomato, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh lemon, optional

Preheat and season outdoor grill as needed. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and drizzle with a little olive oil to moisten the mixture, if needed. Be careful not to over-mix. The less you handle the biftekia, the more light and tender they will be. Add additional breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet. Form small ovals and grill until cooked through to desired doneness, turning only once. Serve hot off the grill with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a side salad, and desired condiments. Ketchup and tzatziki work well with the biftekia. Serve on toasted pita bread for a bifteki sandwich and add desired toppings such as sliced onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Biftekia may also be baked in the oven, or cooked under the broiler, if preferred.

Romaine Salad with Feta

Romaine lettuce salad. Photo: jeffreyw, via Wikimedia Commons
  • 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.

Stewed Green Beans

Green beans. Photo: Lin dafni, via Wikimedia Commons
  • 4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato passata or puree
  • 2-3 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups water

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the tomato passata or puree, the fresh chopped tomatoes, and the 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce reduces down slightly. Add the salt, pepper, and the beans and simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue simmering until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Serve as a side dish or with rice or pasta as a vegetarian main course.