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Posts Tagged ‘Feta’

If you’ve been reading for a while then you might be familiar with my tendency to create a recipe including things like feta, spinach, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives and call it Greek. Case in point – Greek Pasta, Greek Chicken Breasts and Greek Inspired Flounder. Actually, there are 11 recipes in my “Greek” category…right up there with the 12 in the “Italian” category. We just love foods with Mediterranean flavors!

Brandon and I were enjoying happy hour at our local brewery last night and brainstorming ideas for dinner. I remembered seeing feta and spinach turkey burgers on Jenna’s blog this week and I mentioned making an amped-up version of those. Brandon is always up for a good burger so he happily went along with the plan.

We prefer ground chicken over turkey so we started with that as our base. I pretty much went through the fridge and pantry and added in anything that I thought went with my Greek chicken burger theme. We ended up mixing in sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, spinach, feta, parsley and oregano. I made a spin on tzatziki sauce to accompany the burgers.

These “on the fly” burgers totally ended up exceeding our expectations. After all the mix-ins, this was definitely not your average boring chicken burger. They were so easy to make and full of flavor.  I cooked them inside in a skillet but I’m sure they would be great grilled too.

One Year Ago: Mini Quiche (and dinner at Top Chef Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant!)
Two Years Ago: Lady Strawberry Cake

Greek Chicken Burgers
(Recipe inspired by Eat, Live, Run)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BURGERS
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 -2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few cranks of freshly ground pepper

FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice (maybe 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
Salt, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients and mix together (it’s easiest to use your hands here). Form into four patties. The mixture will feel pretty wet and like it’s going to fall apart but it will firm as it cooks.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and burgers. Cook about 6-8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reads at least 160 degrees in the thickest part of the burger.

Serve on toasted, buttered buns with sauce, lettuce and tomato. Top with extra feta if desired.

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I came up with the idea for this dish when I was desperately hungry in the grocery store tonight at 8 p.m. after a yoga class that nearly was the end of me. I planned on making sauteed grouper but of course by that time at night the seafood counter was down to one last sad fillet that was not coming home with me.

I picked up a few organic chicken breasts and decided to make Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds. Then I realized that I didn’t have apricot preserves and brie was going to run me at least six dollars. I started brainstorming ideas for what I could make with what was in my fridge.

And that’s how these delicious Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts were born. I had all the ingredients on hand at home to make a Greek-inspired chicken dish. Rather than stuffing the chicken breasts, I took the lazy way out and made a tasty topping. It worked perfectly. The topping added so much flavor to the chicken. I pounded the chicken out thin to ensure that it cooked quickly, evenly and stayed tender and juicy.

I served the chicken with quick cooking couscous and green beans. This was a very simple meal for a weeknight that was on the table in less than 20 minutes. Both of us really enjoyed this dish and I will be adding it to my quick weeknight dinner repertoire.

One Year Ago: Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes

Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion,finely diced (or one small onion)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon (total) fresh basil and/or oregano, minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried)
2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in oil and saute about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove chicken from skillet and let rest on a plate, loosely covered with foil.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add broth and a squeeze of lemon and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh herbs and feta and spoon mixture over chicken.

Yield: 2 servings

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This recipe has been starred in my Google reader since October 3, 2009. Every time I scrolled through my starred recipes I would think, “oh that looks good, I need to make it soon.” And it finally made it on to the menu plan this week! Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite “special” vegetables and stuffing a burger with artichokes and cheese just sounded perfect.

The verdict? I am glad that I made these burgers nine months after originally staring them! They were an awesome change from traditional burgers. The original recipe used fontina but suggested subbing feta. I had a big block of feta in the fridge so I went with that. The feta was delicious!

The only negative about the burgers is that they were a little hard to work with. The turkey was difficult to shape – the mixture seemed really wet. Brandon was concerned about getting them on the grill but they ended up grilling nicely and firming up.

Overall, I would recommend these burgers to anyone looking for a twist on traditional burgers or looking for a lower fat (or red meatless) option. We might try the burgers with ground chicken next time!

One Year Ago: Strawberry (or Cherry) Muffins

Artichoke and Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers
(Recipe adapted from Proceed with Caution, originally from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 medium sweet onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
4 ounces crumbled feta
4 burger buns

Directions:

Mix together turkey, onion, balsamic, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Form three or four patties (depending on the size of your buns and keeping in mind that the burgers will cook down a bit on the grill). Place patties on a plate and remove the top third of them. Create a small well and place an artichoke heart quarter and one ounce of feta in the well. Replace the meat you removed on top of the filling and seal the edges.

Heat grill to medium. Cook burgers about 8-10 minutes per side, or until a thermometer registers at least 160 degrees. Be careful placing the burgers on the grill and try not to move them around much (so they keep their form).

Place on buns and serve.

Yield: 3 to 4 burgers

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In the past I’ve been pretty indifferent to pasta salads. I never feel like they really deliver on flavor. I’ve been lucky in the past couple months to try two outstanding pasta salads. First there was the Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives and last night my mother in law served this Orzo Salad as part of our joint birthday/Father’s Day celebration. (My birthday was last Wednesday and Brandon’s is this Tuesday.) I went back for seconds and took leftovers home for lunch. It is so full of flavor and I think it’s a very pretty and colorful pasta salad.

The ingredient list is a little long but the preparation is simple. I think it would be easy to cut down on the ingredients.  Although pretty, I don’t think it’s necessary to use three different colors of peppers and I also think you could get away with using one variety of olives instead of two. But I do recommend the recipe as is. I’m definitely keeping this one in my summer side dish lineup.

One Year Ago: Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli

Orzo Salad
(Recipe source In Order to Serve: Christ Church Cooks II)

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if necessary)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 65

I haven’t had much luck with making pasta salad in the past. It always seemed to be lacking in flavor and pretty mediocre. We decided to grill kebabs last week and enjoy our first dinner out on our patio. I thought pasta salad sounded like the perfect side item.

I read through several recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this recipe for Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives sounded like a winner. We love Mediterranean flavors and I didn’t see how this could be boring with zucchini, olives, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and feta.

I made a few modifications to the recipe. First, I made the pasta salad ahead of time (wanted to go to a late yoga class!) so I skipped grilling the zucchini in favor of a quick saute. Second, I just do not love the flavor of raw onions and garlic so I gave those a quick saute too (and subbed Vidalia’s for red onions because they were on hand).

The verdict? Awesome! The only complaint Brandon had was with the whole wheat pasta but that’s typical. He’s not a lover of the added chewiness. If you struggle with that too you may want to substitute white pasta for the wheat but keep in mind the added health benefits of using whole wheat pasta :)

I loved the flavors of this pasta salad and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next couple days. I cut the recipe in half and it still made a ton. This would be great for entertaining or to make for lunches for the week. I will most definitely be making this recipe again soon.

One Year Ago: Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil

Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 1994)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing  zucchini
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 pound whole-wheat penne or other tubular pasta
2/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
6 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole small or torn large fresh basil leaves

In a large bowl gently stir together tomatoes, onion, garlic paste, vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.

Brush one side of zucchini slices lightly with additional oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat until hot and grill zucchini, oiled sides down, in batches, brushing tops with more oil before turning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until just tender but not soft. Transfer to a small bowl.

In a pot of salted boiling water cook pasta until just tender (following package directions) and drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture and toss to combine. Cool pasta slightly and stir in zucchini, olives, cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 37

It’s Wednesday night…which means I’m on my own! Brandon is in a bowling league (seriously) on Wednesday nights so I get to enjoy a night of eating whatever I want and watching what  I want on TV. Glorious! :) Tonight I had leftover Coconut Red Lentil Curry, a salad and a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s always some sort of meat-free feast!

It’s been a very relaxing night. I took the day off from exercising because I haven’t had a rest day in over two weeks and I’m just tired and my body needs a break. I’ve started teaching a BodyPump class on Monday mornings at 6 a.m. and it’s been a big adjustment. The 5 a.m. wake up call is very early for me. I know I’ll get used to it but so far I feel like I start the week in a sleep deficit.  The good thing is that I have a class full of people up early with me and they are ready to work!

Yesterday I went to a hot vinyasa class at Y2 Yoga. I’m so sad that my one month unlimited “new student” pass is ending! My brother-in-law and his wife gave me a pass to try this studio for Christmas. Obviously, I’ve definitely been using the free month to its fullest extent! So now I have to make the decision whether to buy a 10 class pass or a month unlimited. There’s about a $25 difference in price. I’m just not sure which is the right fit. I know I’ve been all about the yoga lately but I’m starting a new half marathon training plan on February 1. I dont’ know if I can fit in teaching BodyPump, running 4-5 days a week and utilizing a month unlimited pass to it’s fullest extent? Thoughts?

Okay…back to food. I’m sure you’re confused about the meaty pasta dish in the picture above since I’ve been going on and on about vegetarian dinners and working out. I made this dish on Monday night. It’s a Greek dish – Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio. I was craving eggplant and love Greek food so this recipe hit the spot.

It was so good…the cinnamon added an awesome warm flavor to the lamb sauce and the nutmeg I added to the cheese sauce complimented it perfectly. Although it took a couple hours start to finish, the end result was totally worth it. And it’s not all hands on time – lots of simmering and baking time in there too. I thought the double layer was really fun – you mix the bottom pasta layer with the meat sauce and the top pasta layer with the cheese sauce. Yum! I’m so embarrassed to admit that we both went back for not only seconds but thirds! And we had the leftovers again last night. If you’re a Greek food lover this is a must try. And just a side note, I think you could sub beef for the lamb if you’re not a fan of lamb.

Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, October 2001)

Ingredients:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (28- to 32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 garlic clove
1 whole clove or a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 pound feta, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs

FOR THE PASTA
10 ounces penne (3 cups)

Directions:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add lamb and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring to break up lumps. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar and pepper and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in eggplant and tomatoes. Gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is just tender, about 40 minutes. Remove lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper.

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

While meat sauce is simmering, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and add garlic clove and whole clove or nutmeg. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Add feta, salt and pepper and cook, whisking vigorously, until cheese is well incorporated.

Beat eggs in a large bowl and slowly add sauce to eggs, whisking constantly.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Slightly undercook the pasta since it will finish in the oven. Drain in a colander. Toss half of pasta with lamb sauce and half with cheese sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE PASTITSIO
Pour pasta with lamb sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish, spreading evenly. Spoon pasta with cheese sauce on top, spreading evenly.

Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until bubbling and top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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fetapotatosalad

We went to visit our friends Cristen and Graham in Baxley, Georgia this weekend. We watched the Georgia/Florida football game on Saturday which sadly didn’t have a very happy ending for the Bulldogs. During the game the boys slow cooked a Boston Butt on the grill and Cristen and I whipped up this potato salad. This is one of her favorite potato recipes but I’d never tried it after years of hearing her talk about it.

It was simple to put together and packed with flavor. We served it chilled but I think it would be good served warm as well. The leftovers were tasty with lunch today – the flavors had really developed overnight in the fridge. I’m always looking for inspiration on new ways to use potatoes and will definitely be making this again.

And because I can’t resist…I must share a picture of their adorable daughter in her Halloween pumpking costume!

camillepumpkin

Feta Potato Salad
(Recipe adapted from Southern Living)

Ingredients:

3  pounds  small new potatoes, diced
2/3  cup  olive oil
1/2  cup  fresh lemon juice
1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
1  teaspoon  kosher or sea salt
3/4  teaspoon  pepper
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/4  cup  chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Whisk together oil and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over potatoes and add green onions, parsley and feta. Toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

Yield: 8-10 side dish servings

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fetaflounder

I love fish with Greek preparations. I had some delicious whole milk feta in the fridge and a craving for fish. I picked up some flounder and Roma tomatoes at the grocery and came home with a mission of creating a Greek inspired fish entree.

I was extremely pleased with how this turned out. It was ready in about 20 minutes and full of flavor. Unfortunately, Brandon is out of town so I didn’t have anyone to taste test for me but I told him all about it and he’s excited to try it out.

So if you’re a feta/Greek flavor lover like me and looking for a new preparation for flaky white fish, this is a dish you want to make!

Greek Inspired Flounder
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 flounder fillets (can sub any other flaky white fish like tilapia, snapper, etc)
2 tablespoons flour
1 Roma tomato, sliced
2 ounces of high-quality feta cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Rinse fish with water and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with flour and shake off excess.Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add fish to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until lightly golden.

Remove fish from pan and place in prepared baking dish. Squeeze lemon juice over fish. Sprinkle with basil and oregano. Line fish with 3-4 tomato slices and top with crumbled feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place in preheated oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook for another 2-3 minutes,  until feta very lightly browns.

Remove from oven and carefully transfer from baking dish to plate. I served mine over cous cous with a small green salad.

Yield: 2 servings

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easyspanakopita

I had some great feta in the fridge and ever since I starred a few spanakopita recipes in my Google Reader I had been craving it. I went back to read the recipes I starred and realized there was no way I would have time to make them on a weekday. Working with the phylo dough was going to be extremely time intesive. Not something I want to tackle when I don’t get home until 7 p.m. and it’s all I can do to feed us by 8 or 8:30.

So off I went in search of “easy” spanakopita recipes. I checked one of my favorite blogs for Greek inspired food, Elly Says Opa!, and sure enough she had a Cheater Spanakopita recipe. The real time saver is that this recipe uses puff pastry instead of the phylo dough.

We loved these spanakopitas. While they weren’t quite the real deal, they definitely got the job done for a quick dinner. I served them with a big Greek salad and it made a nice vegetarian meal. This recipe makes a ton of spanakopitas but the leftovers were great for lunch. During dinner we also talked about how great these would be for an appetizer at a party.

Easy Spanakopita
(Recipe source Elly Says Opa!)

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry (one box), thawed
Olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
fresh dill, to taste (omitted, dill is my least favorite herb!)
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 lb fresh spinach (about 1 bag)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, divided
salt and pepper

Directions:

Remove puff pastry from freezer and follow directions on box for thawing. We let ours sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and saute until they begin to get tender and translucent. Stir in the spinach and then turn off the heat. Let the spinach wilt down a bit (but not completely, you still want it to have a little life).

Roll the puff pastry dough into a square, making it slightly thinner. Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares by making 2 horizontal cuts and 2 vertical cuts.

Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl. Add in feta, dill, parsley and salt and pepper. Beat one egg and add to mixture. Stir well.

Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture in each puff pastry square. Bring the 2 opposite sides together to form a triangle and press with your fingers to seal. Place on a baking sheet. Beat the second egg and then brush the tops of the triangles with the egg. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Yield: 18 spanakopita triangles

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