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July 2003 Issue
Vegetarian Goes Greek
by Victoria Smith
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Trying to find Greek Recipes that are also vegetarian has been, to say the least, interesting. We found a lot of lamb dishes, and you all know how I feel about that kind of carrying on. I don’t know if I ever told you, but my mother makes toys for a hobby. (This year, we plan to go into business.) Recently, Mom built a one-of-a-kind toy lamb, and it is the dearest thing that you ever saw, except for a live one. Eating a beautiful baby like that is totally beyond my comprehension.

Mom was very little help in this department. She muttered something about "Retsina" and "feta cheese" and stuffed grape leaves," none of it sounded very appetizing. Mom does have a very close friend who is Armenian, and this friend’s mom was a survivor of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, between 1915 and 1923. She told many stories of those days, and though she was very young, it was an experience that no one could ever forget. Many Greeks were killed during those years too.

Greece is the origin of so many of our values and beliefs that I cannot begin to list them here. Mom quotes, "He who cannot love the Greeks cannot love anything."

I cannot speak for the guilty Turks. Maybe next time, we can track down some Armenian recipes.

Anyway, Aunt Arveda, this column is for you, and for your Mom, Aunt Alice, who I never met, but know that I would have loved. You have a wonderful culture, which we have just begun to study.

Here are some vegetarian Greek recipes.


Chickpea Salad with Garlic Cumin Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas -- soaked overnight, or 2 1/2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 3/2 cups finely diced red onion
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (Greek extra virgin preferred)
  • 4 cloves garlic -- crushed
  • 1 red Jalapeno chili -- minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs: thyme, mint, tarragon, parsley, cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3/2 tablespoons coarsely crushed cumin seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drain the soaked chickpeas and cook, covered, in water to cover until tender, about 2 hours or a little longer. Plunge them into cold water and then rub them between your fingers to remove the skins. (If using canned chickpeas, simply drain and rinse.) Toss the beans in a bowl with the onions.

For the vinaigrette, whisk olive oil with garlic, Jalapeno, herbs, vinegar or lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour over the salad and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar, let stand 30 minutes or longer. Add cilantro leaves as garnish. Serve at room temperature.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour


Baked Herbed Rice

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 finely chopped parsley
  • 1 minced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a baking dish with the olive oil. Add green onion and bake until golden.

Add the thyme, parsley, and sage. Sprinkle the pepper and salt. Add the rice and water. Stir in the garlic powder. Bake covered for 40-50 minutes or until the rice is tender.

  • Yields: 4 to 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour


Greek Cucumber Salad

  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 7-10 chopped green olives
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pare and cut cucumbers and onion into thinly sliced pieces. Separate onion slices into rings. Add Salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Squeeze out any liquid, and place cucumber in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients.

Pour over cucumbers. Refrigerate until served.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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