I brought more than memories home from Greece. We were so taken with Greek cucumbers and tomatoes that we decided to grow our own. During our last week in Greece we stopped at every nursery or likely looking store to buy seeds to no avail. We finally found some seed packets in a small curio store in Athens. We bought tomato and cuke seeds as well as horta (wild green) seeds.
We planted the tomato and cucumber seeds in May and they have flourished. We ate our first home-grown Greek salad tonight. The Greek tomatoes, Greek cucumbers and red onions all came from our garden. The bell pepper, olives and feta were purchased. (The feta was added to individual servings at table as my husband does not eat cheese!) The salad was simply dressed with drizzles of EVOO, lemon juice, dried Greek oregano and S & P.
I was amazed at how sweet the tomatoes and cukes were. Despite the different growing conditions, the vegies had the same taste qualities that made me fall in love with them initially in Greece. Unfortunately, the seed packets give no clue as to vegetable variety. What am I going to do for seeds next year?
To serve with the salad I decided to make the dish that my companion ordered throughout Greece because he just couldn't get enough of it; Stifado, a Greek beef stew. The Greeks also make it with veal and lamb.
An example of Stifado as served in Greece:
I cobbled together a recipe from various sources as follows:
olive oil (not EVOO)
2 lbs of braising beef, cut in 1" chunks
12 boiling onions (not pearl onions---they should be about 1 1/2"-2" diameter), peeled
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fresh thyme
1 T dried oregano, crumbled
3 bay leaves
pinch of cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1/2 t cumin
2 c red wine
2 T balsamic vinegar
S & P
Dredge meat in flour and brown in oil in batches in large Dutch oven. Remove meat to a bowl. Cut cross in base of onions. Add more oil if needed and saute onions for about 10 minutes til starting to brown. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Return meat plus juices to pot. Add remaining ingredients. Season with S & P to taste. Bake at 350 til meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Here is a not very pretty picture of the stew when almost done:
The stew formed it's own luscious thick gravy. It was pronounced a great success. Four of us finished off the whole amount! Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and Greek salad for a lovely and very Greek meal.