The typical Greek diet during the days of Lent includes an array of legumes, grains and pastas but the highlight for me is the multitude of seafood dishes from shrimp, to calamari, to octopus, lobster, crabs, mussels, clams or scallops.
I love seafood and yet as of late it's been frequenting our dinner table less and less. The kids really enjoy fresh fish such as red snapper, sole or porgies much better so all other seafood and shellfish have naturally been put on the back burner (no pun intended). With the start of Lent, however, I got to make this scrumptious shrimp dish that everyone--young and old--thoroughly enjoyed.
I tossed some cherry tomatoes in a light white wine sauce along with onion, scallions, garlic, dill and parsley and served the shrimp with some rice but a small-shaped pasta would work equally well. Try crumbling some Feta and sprinkling over top just before serving for an added depth of flavor (I omitted the Feta in my own as it was a Lenten dish).
Garides me Ntomata kai Leuko Krasi / Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and White Wine
1/4 cup olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 3 scallions, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes 1 cup white wine 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved Hefty pinch of dried Greek oregano 1 pound of large shrimp, de-veined but not peeled 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped 2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion until soft. Stir in the scallions, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook a couple minutes more. Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the skillet, cover and cook until just pink (literally less than five minutes). Sprinkle with the dill and parsley and serve over rice or pasta.
Food is more than a physical necessity; how we acquire it, how we prepare it, how we consume it and who we consume it with is so rich with meaning.
As in so many countries around the world, food and cooking play an enormous role in Greek culture. Growing up as a first generation Greek American has afforded me the opportunity to experience firsthand the importance of food in not only Greek holidays and traditions, but in daily life. I keep the recipes of my mother, grandmothers and aunts close at hand and although I've embraced a multitude of foreign cuisines over the years, the traditional Greek dishes I’ve grown to cherish remain dearest to my heart.
Kali Orexi (literally translated to Good Appetite) is the term echoed on the tables of families sitting down to a meal all across Greece, or in any corner of the world where Greeks can be found. I believe the dishes made by one who is passionate about cooking offer a glimpse into the soul. I'm happy to share this glimpse into mine ... Kali Orexi!