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Food

Fresh Takes on the Classic Flavors and Products of Greece

November 6, 2020

The Greek diet is well-known for its health benefits. The delicious, classic flavors and high quality Greek products can help just about anyone on the journey to wellness. Many of the best-known Greek dishes, like spanakopita, for example, can be made in many variations. Whether homemade or store-bought, the combination of spinach, feta, green onions, and herbs, is a tasty vegetarian option. For weeknights when home cooks are not necessarily up for baking the classic phyllo-based spanakopita, try the following recipe for spanakopita pasta.

For those looking for a new dip to enjoy, Greek yogurt guacamole or Greek-amole is a decidedly non-traditional recipe with Greek yogurt adding its health benefits and creaminess to the avocados. A great source of heart-healthy fat and fiber, avocados also contain many nutrients, including folate, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and vitamins C, E, and K. While Mexico is the world’s top producer of the superfood, avocado producers in Greece, and especially Crete, have been seeing an uptick in exports in recent years.

Spanakopita Pasta with Feta

8 cups chopped spinach, stems removed

1 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, or a combination, leaves and tender stems,

6 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and dark green parts separated

Greek sea salt and freshly group black pepper

1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni or fusilli

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups crumbled feta, such as Dodonis or Arachovas

Water

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a 3-quart, 9 by 13-inch baking dish, toss the chopped spinach, herbs and scallion greens with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Squeeze the mixture with your hands to wilt, then set aside.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water about 5 minutes; reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and set it aside. Return the pot to the stove.

Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the scallion whites, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the reserved cup of pasta water, the wilted greens, half the feta, and all the pasta until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Transfer the pasta to the baking dish, then top with remaining feta. Bake until the sauce is thickened and bubbly and the top has browned in spots, about 15 minutes. If a crispier top is preferred, broil for a few minutes.

Greek Yogurt Guacamole

4 avocados

1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley

1 chili pepper (such as jalapeño), finally chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt, Fage works well here

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

In a mixing bowl, mash the avocados with the back of a fork until smooth. Add the herbs, the chili pepper, the lemon juice, and the salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the yogurt and the minced garlic. Serve with your favorite chips to dip and enjoy.

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