2 cups ( 1 pound) dried white beans (navy or
cannellini) or 2 to 3 cans ( 6 cups) white beans
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large white onions, chopped
4 celery stalks (with leaves), chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
2 garlic cloves, minced
24 ounces passata, or tomato puree
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon (or more to taste)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Prepare dry beans, if you are using them: Put beans
in a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.
Drain the beans and transfer them to a large stockpot.
Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer
and cook for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
If you are using canned beans, drain and set aside.
Place stockpot over medium-high heat and add 2
tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté onions, celery, carrots
and garlic for about 2 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add cooked or canned beans to the pot, along
with the passata, water, ½ cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer
for 1 hour. Before serving, stir in lemon juice, parsley
and feta cheese. Makes 6 servings.
All recipes by Laura Langston.
ating her home,” Bakopoulos remembers.
Your Greek pantry is easily stocked
with staples such as good-quality olive
oil, wine and balsamic vinegars, tins of
beans and tomato sauce. Round it out with
orzo and similar types of pasta, capers
and anchovies, almonds and walnuts,
feta cheese and yogurt, golden honey and
a pound or two of dark, rich coffee. Add
some fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and herbs like oregano, thyme and
mint, and you’re set for a feast. In keeping
with the true Greek spirit, however, you’ll
want to have a little kerasma (treat) on
hand for guests.
Greeks are known for their hospitality;
they don’t like to let people leave without
giving them something to eat or drink. It’s
considered an expression of love to cook
for friends and family, Bakopoulos says.
“And eating in Greece is a ritual, never
rushed,” Avgoustiou adds. “It comes with
the whole package of food, wine, ouzo and
conversation.” It’s the Greek way. C
Laura Langston likes a good olive oil in her
pantry, a block of feta in her fridge and a
delicious moussaka baking in her oven.
avgolemono: a traditional egg lemon
sauce; also, an egg-lemon-chicken soup.
baklava: a sweet nutty pastry soaked
in syrup or honey.
dolmades: grape leaves stuffed with
rice and fresh herbs.
gyros: kebab-style meat roasted on a
vertical spit, often served in pita bread.
keftedes: small herby meatballs.
moussaka: a casserole made of eggplant and ground meat topped with
ouzo: an anise-flavored liqueur,
the national spirit of Greece.
pastitsio: a baked spaghetti and
meat dish topped with béchamel.
saganaki: salty fried cheese, named
after the small frying pan it’s cooked in.
skordalia: a thick dip made with garlic and potatoes, nuts and/or bread.
souvlaki: small pieces of meat and
sometimes vegetables on a skewer.
spanikopita: layered filo stuffed with
feta cheese, spinach and herbs.
taramosalata: a spread made from
pureed salted fish roe, olive oil, lemon
juice and bread or potato.
tzatziki: a yogurt, cucumber and
yemistes: oven-baked tomato,
eggplant and red pepper, stuffed
with rice, garlic and herbs.—LL
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large or 3 medium onions, finely grated
or finely chopped in processor
½ cup fresh parsley, minced or finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried Greek oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
1½ teaspoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons pepper
Cooking oil for frying
All-purpose white flour for coating
In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, breadcrumbs,
egg, onions, mint, parsley, oregano, garlic, salt and
pepper. Mix well with your hands, kneading the
mixture for several minutes until it’s smooth and very
well combined (thorough mixing is key to good keftedes). Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Shape the meat into bite-size balls, about the size of
walnuts. Dredge in flour and set aside. Add enough
oil to generously cover the bottom of a large skillet
and heat over medium-high heat. Cook keftedes
in batches, 10 or 12 at a time, lowering the heat to
medium as soon as you add them to the oil. Cook 5 to
10 minutes, until they are brown on all sides. Makes
approximately 50 meatballs.
Note: If you’d rather bake the keftedes, lightly grease
a baking sheet, spread the meatballs on the sheet
and bake in a preheated oven at 450 F for 15 to 20
minutes until brown.