Monday, July 7, 2008

Greek Week Day 1: Orzo With Zucchini

A little bit ago, Peter M. at Kalofagas, had a small rant. Basically he was saying that he didn't like how people will throw a few ingredients in a dish and then say that dish is a certain ethnicity. Like if you add oregano and basil to a dish that doesn't mean it's Italian. Apparently it annoys him greatly. I can understand that. I didn't take it personally because in my own little world I don't usually do anything wrong. Well that, and I'm woefully bad at experimenting with different ethnicities. So I promptly put his rant out of my mind. Sorry Peter.

Well that was until last week when I found myself at the library returning a 2 month overdue book (oops) and checking out a new book for my family's book club. The newest book, The Tipping Point, happened to be located fairly near the cookbook section. So I moseyed over to take a peak. As I was standing there, I came to realize that other than Indian, Middle Eastern, and American-Italian foods, I don't know much at all about the foods of other cultures. Like zip, zero, zilch. That's when I started thinking about Peter's rant. So I decided to explore true Greek cuisine. I realized that the only Greek food I've ever had is Moussaka and Pastitso (which I don't like that thick creamy sauce on), the flaming cheese (which I LOVE), and the ubiquitous Greek Salad. The choice of cuisine was clinched when I came across The Complete Book of Greek Cooking, by The Recipe Club of Saint Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral. So a Greek cookbook by Greek people.

And so Greek Week begins. Today's selection is Orzo with Zucchini or Kritharaki me Kolokithakia. It's delicious. Little pieces of zucchini caramelized with chewy little bits of orzo. It's a lovely homey side dish. Very comforting. And totally surprising. I had no idea this is what Greek food was like. I served it up with a white perch that the Brain caught in Lake Erie. According to The Complete Book of Greek Cooking, the Greek way to cook fish is with olive oil and high heat. So I coated it in olive oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper and turned up the heat on the Barbecue. Wow. I'm cooking more fish this way. Yum.

Orzo with Zucchini
from The Complete Book of Greek Cooking

1/3 cup orzo
4 to 5 medium zucchini (about 3 pounds) scrubbed trimmed and diced
1/4 vegetable or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and add orzo. Reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. While orzo cooks, in a large heavy pot, saute zucchini in oil until brown, about 5 minutes. Add drained orzo to zucchini; season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Shake the pot a few times to prevent mixture from becoming lumpy (stirring can mash the zucchini). Serve hot or cold.


Peter M said...

Mary, I've seen this book and it comes highly regarded as a good standard Greek recipe book.

Thanks for explaining and understanding my point, I'm those of other ethnicities might also be peeved when someone carelessly slaps a label on a dish. Learn to crawl before you can walk, right?

Kritharaki (orzo) is a wonderful salad and I love both and this indeed is Greek...Bravo koritsi mou!

glamah16 said...

I need that book. I was just complaining to Peter about my lackluster dinner in Greektown this past weekend. Seeing these erecipes lets me know there is more to Greek food than than the average sterotypes.Cant wait to see what more you have coming.

LisaRene said...

Great idea to explore a Greek recipe a day for a week! Can't wait to see what else you prepare.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't take it personally because in my own little world I don't usually do anything wrong." This is precisely why I keep coming back for more Shazam.

Also, will there be a BUNDT cake this week???? A BOOOnDT? A BUHNNNNDT?

Sara said...

Your fisherman husband actually brings home food when he goes fishing? What a novel concept! Mine caught 7 fish today. Guess what we're having for dinner? Pork!

Greek week should be fun. I'm looking forward to more!

Cakelaw said...

This looks delish - wonderful.

Deborah said...

I'm the same - I know nothing about different ethnic cuisines. What a fun project - I'd love to learn more about Greek cooking!

Bellini Valli said...

Greek week...I am so there Mary!!!!
I am a lover of Greek cuisine as you know and my dishes may not always be authentic, but eating and cooking is about the pleasure of doing so. A quote from Zorba the Greek says it all to me: "On this coast I felt for the first time what a pleasant thing it could be to have a meal. We started eating and drinking, the conversation became animated. I at last realized that eating was a spiritual function and that meat, bread, and wine were the raw materials from which the soul is made. " change it up if you want to just say it was Greek-inspired.