Victoria’s Vegetarian Victuals

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

Greek Potatoes

  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 3 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 oz. cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup Vegan chicken flavored bouillon (powdered)

Peel the potatoes and quarter end to end. Place in 9x13 glass roasting pan. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook at 400 for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown. Stir frequently.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Greek Spinach Rice (Spanakorizo)

Greek Spinach Rice (Spanakorizo)
  • 2 pounds English spinach -- small leaves, not big thick spinach
  • 1/2 cup long grain rice -- preferably basmati rice
  • 5 shallots cut finely -- or spring onions
  • 1 leek -- finely cut
  • 2 garlic cloves -- finely chopped
  • 3 soft tomatoes -- roughly chopped or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 dry chili
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley -- finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill -- finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Then add ALL of the ingredients at once. Stirring gently for about 3 minutes until all ingredients are mixed well and starting to simmer. Place lid and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes to avoid sticking on the bottom.

If it starts to stick lower heat a little or add a tablespoon of water.

Cook until the rice is cooked. Allow to cool a little and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, crusty bread and a Greek salad. (This can be eaten at room temperature in the summer!)

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Greek Pasta Salad

  • 1 box rotini/rotelle
  • 1 can small or medium black olives, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup oil of your choice
  • 1 cup vinegar -- cider is my favorite
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Celery salt/seed -- to taste
  • Thyme -- to taste

Set pasta to boil (about 10 minutes). During this time, blend the oil, vinegar, garlic, and spices to make a dressing (don't use my exact measurements--use amounts that you like). Drain the pasta. Pour the dressing over the pasta while still hot (this helps the flavors set). Cover and place in fridge to cool. Slice olives and peppers. When pasta mixture is cool, add these last ingredients and stir. This makes a very tasty and pretty salad.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes