In these times of sheltering at home and self-imposed isolation, I find it’s a good opportunity to discover and experiment with cuisine other than my native Nuyorican repertoire. Following that vein, one of my favorites is Greek cooking. The Greeks have been cooking since 1000 B.C.E. What I love about Greek cuisine is the way they put together the greens, the cheeses, the fish, the tang of tomatoes, the rich fragrance of olive oil. You can taste the sun-drenched wonder of the Greek Isles.
Below are two recipes that encompass this rich diversity. One is baked fish (psari plaki). The other is braised green beans and potatoes (fasolakia me potates yiahni). Both recipes hail from an old cookbook I’ve stored on my shelf: Greek Cooking by Ruth Kershner (Weathervane Books). I do not know if the book is still in print. It was published in 1977. If you collect old cookbooks and you have it, then you are blessed.
For the record, the only change I made is in the green beans and potato recipe. I had some red-purplish potatoes on hand as well as regular potatoes. So I did a combination of both. I reckon you can use whatever potatoes you have be they brown, yellow or red. Be creative is my motto.
1 pound fish fillets (sole, flounder, or red snapper)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ teaspoon seasoned salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
3 slices lemon
2 tablespoons white wine
- Arrange fish in an 8-or-9-inch square baking dish (I use round cast-iron). Sprinkle with the parsley, lemon juice and seasoned salt.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the onion and garlic until limp.
- Top the fish with the onion mixture, including the oil from the skillet. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the onion mixture, then place the lemon slices between the tomato slices. Pour the wine over all and bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork.
Serve with Braised Green Beans and Potatoes (recipe below). Makes 3 servings.
BRAISED GREEN BEANS AND POTATOES
(Fasoulakia me Potates Yiahni)
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onions
1 pound green beans, ends nipped, and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium potatoes, pared and cut into ¼-inch slices
1 cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon oregano
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté onions until limp. Add the beans and stir to combine with the onions. Arrange the potatoes on top of the beans. Pour on the chicken broth and sprinkle with salt and oregano. Heat to boiling. Cover and lower the heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Makes 4 servings.