Father’s Day is when we all show appreciation for Dad, so this year instead of a tie or a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug, share the gift of Greek cuisine with a few tasty and relatively simple recipes. Mezedes paired with Dad’s favorite ouzo offer an authentically Greek experience no matter how far away from Greece you are at the moment.
There are many popular brands of ouzo from various regions, but perhaps most famous is Plomari from the island of Lesvos, where the Ouzo Museum is located. The 3rd Lesvos Food Fest takes place July 2-7 this year and features an ouzo food pairing event on July 3, among other events, highlighting the “colorful mosaic of flavors that puts at its epicenter the meze, ouzo, and above all, good company,” as noted on the festival’s website: lesvosfoodfest.com.
1 (2 lb.) octopus, fresh or frozen and thawed
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
Greek extra virgin olive oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Greek dried oregano
Rinse the octopus in cool water. Using a sharp knife, cut the octopus just below the eyes to remove the hood. Squeeze or cut out the beak and the cartilage on the other side of the beak. Rinse the octopus again, drain it, and place in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, vinegar, and the water. Cover and cook over medium heat until softened, 30 to 35 minutes.
While the octopus is cooking, light a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Cut the octopus tentacles from the head. Brush with olive oil, place on the grill, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Cut the tentacles into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, add freshly ground pepper and oregano to taste, and serve immediately. Enjoy with your favorite ouzo.
24 jumbo shrimp (about 2 pounds), peeled and cleaned with tails intact
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon Greek oregano
1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Stir together the shrimp, garlic, oregano, oil, and lemon juice in a large baking dish or bowl. Cover, and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. While the shrimp are marinating, soak 8 wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes, or if preferred, metal skewers can be used without the need for soaking.
Preheat grill to medium-high. Skewer the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Grill until shrimp are opaque about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with salad.
2 dozen fresh mussels
2 cups Greek dry white wine
1 cup water
2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Clean the mussels and set aside in a bowl of cool water. Place the mussels in a large deep pot, add the wine, water, olive oil, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve over cooked brown rice with a drizzle of some of the reserved cooking liquid and additional olive oil, if preferred.