As the cooler temperatures set in, heading towards fall, try the following relatively simple weeknight meals featuring Greek flavors and ingredients. The classic Greek combination of spinach and feta is not only delicious, but nutritious. Spinach is among the foods that boost your immune system and can help keep you healthy all year long, even in the midst of cold and flu season.
Feta is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product of Greece, besides being the most famous cheese of Greece. PDO identifies a product originating in a specific place, region or country, whose quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors, and the production steps of which all take place in the defined geographical area. Feta’s special characteristics, that have remained intact over the centuries, were passed down from generation to generation making feta a symbol of local cultural heritage and synonymous with the healthy Greek diet.
Feta PDO is produced in the geographical area of mainland Greece (Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Mainland Greece, Peloponnesus) and the department of Lesvos (Lesvos, Limnos, Agios Efstratios). The milk comes from sheep and goat breeds that graze freely in specific geographical areas in Greece, which stand out for their high biodiversity and special soil and weather conditions. The resulting cheese is the delicious and versatile feta, an indelible part of Greek cuisine.
Spinach and Feta Casserole
3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 large cloves garlic, grated
3 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cup crumbled feta Dodonis
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent. Add the spinach and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Add the cooked rice, feta, dill, pepper, and salt and stir to combine well.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and Greek yogurt. Add to the rice mixture and stir to combine completely. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until lightly browned on top, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Greek Pasta with Sausage
2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
3 links cooked Greek sausage or chicken sausage (9 ounces), sliced into rounds
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
4 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
6 cups cooked whole-wheat rotini pasta
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup finely crumbled feta Dodonis
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, spinach, pasta, and olives. Continue cooking, stirring often, until bubbling hot and the spinach is wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed, to keep the pasta from sticking. Stir in feta and serve immediately.