Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers – Gemista

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Olympic Palace Hotel on the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes.  The Executive Chef and his team, were working tirelessly to produce utterly delicious food, day after day.  It is certainly no easy task producing this level of food constantly, add in the hot climate and long hours and I think many of us would be exhausted.  To work at this level you have to have skill and dedication to your work. Eating Gemista in Rhodes

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that they must have a real enthusiasm and passion, for the food and ingredients they were using. It was a true pleasure to see!  Being a person who loves to immerse herself in the culture of a country, I could not resist getting the opportunity to meet with the food and beverage team, and find out more about their superb Greek dishes.  I managed to get a recipe from them too, so if you fancy trying their “Gemista” pronounced yemista then scroll down.

Gemista - Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

Still to this day, it never ceases to amaze me at how many tourists go to a country, and yet do not try the national dishes?  To me, the whole point of visiting a country is to explore not just the surroundings, but their way of life.  So I urge you to be a little more adventurous and head to the specialist food sections and restaurants, where local and national cuisine is on offer.  Great food is worth exploring!  For more information on the Olympic Palace Hotel (which is a super place to stay by the way) go to:-

www.olympicpalacehotel.com

 

Greek Feta CheeseEmily at workExecutive Chef and the Food & Beverage Manager of the Olympic Palace Hotel With Emily

Ingredients

6 large tomatoes
3 Green Peppers
1 Egg plant chopped small dice (Aubergine in the UK)
1 Pumpkin chopped small dice (Small Butternut Squash in the UK)
12 Tbl of Carolina Rice (Long Grain Rice in UK)
1 White onion finely chopped
Salt & Ground Pepper
1 1/2 Cups of Olive Oil
1 Leek
Handful of fresh parsley finely chopped
Handful of fish mint finely chopped
1kg Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky moon shape

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Wash the vegetables.  Slice a 1cm layer from the top of the tomatoes and peppers.  This makes a lid, so keep them for later.  Remove the inside of the tomato (carefully so you do not split the skin) and reserve the insides for the next step.  Discard the inside of the peppers.

Sprinkle each tomato with a little salt and turn upside down on a tray so that any excess liquid can come out.

In a deep pan take 1\2 cup of olive oil and fry the chopped onion and leek for around 2-3 minutes.  Then add the aubergine and butternut squash and cook for a further 3 minutes.  Add the rice and combine all together well.  With a hand blender, blitz half of the insides of the tomatoes.  Add this puree to the pan, along with 1 cup of water.  Add some salt and pepper for seasoning, and continue cooking on a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and add in the chopped herbs.  The filling will be quite loose and juicy.

Place the mixture to 3/4 height of the tomatoes and peppers.  You need a little room at the top, as when the rice cooks it will expand.  Place the lids on the peppers and tomatoes, and place in a deep baking dish close to each other.  Place the potatoes around the edge.

Blend the other half of the tomato insides with the remaining cup of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, and then place over the potatoes.

Cover the baking dish with tin foil and place into the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.  Then remove the tin foil and continue cooking in the oven for a further 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Check that it is cooked by gently prodding the potatoes with a knife.

This dish is served both hot and cold in Greece.  In fact they often like it at room temperature the following day.  This will intensify the flavour even more.

Needless to say it is delicious with feta cheese, but another way is to remove the tops and add a slice of mozzarella, then place under the grill until it melts.  However if you are vegan then you can take away any cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cauliflower Curry Recipe

This may sound unappetising but trust me, those curry spices get right into the cauliflower, making a bland vegetable into something super tasty.  It serves 2 and is approx 354 calories per serving, so not bad!

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Ingredients:-

Approx half a medium sized cauliflower broken into segments par boiled for about 6 minutes until still slightly firm but starting to cook. Drain off properly.
Olive Oil
1 Large onion chopped
2 Good handfuls of chopped mushrooms
2 Cloves of Garlic chopped
1 Red/Green Pepper chopped
100ml of chicken/vegetable stock
15g of Medium curry powder (or hotter if you wish)
40ml of double light cream (or substitute accordingly)
120g of Wholegrain brown basmati rice.
Salt

Start cooking your rice as per the pack instructions.  Brown rice usually takes longer than white, so its worth getting it on early.

In a large heavy bottomed pan add a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Then add in the onion, mushrooms, pepper and garlic.  Place on a low-medium heat until the onion starts to soften.  Add the curry powder, then the stock and mix well. Place in the drained cauliflower,  and gently turn it into the mixture so that it gets coated in the sauce.  Cook for a few minutes and then add the cream, making sure you are gentle around the cauliflower.  Make sure you add the cream on a low heat otherwise it will split.  Continue gently cooking until the desired consistency with the sauce is reached.  Sometimes you may need a little extra water to loosen, or cook a little longer to thicken.  Test for seasoning.

Serve on brown rice and with mango chutney of you have it.

 

 

 

 

Pasta, Tomato & Sardines

I used to make this for myself as one of my healthy eating low-calorie foods, but it has fast become a favourite with others in my family.  You could swap sardines for tuna or mackerel if you want, although the tinned sardines in tomato sauce just make this dish taste even better.  The quality of ingredients should be top-notch, as they do all the hard work.  I love Parmentier sardines in tomato, they are just delicious!

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Ingredients (Serves 2)

2  Tins of sardines in tomato sauce
150g of Bucatini or Spaghetti
2 Cloves of garlic sliced
10 Cherry tomatoes in quarters
1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 Red pepper sliced
Salt
Bag of rocket leaves
1 Lemon

Boil your bucatini/spaghetti as per the instructions in salted water.

In a large wok or non stick pan, place the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, chilli flakes and red peppers.  Cook and stir for around five minutes.

Once the bucatini/spaghetti has cooked, remove two ladle full of the water and place into the pan/wok.  Drain the bucatini/spaghetti and add it to the wok.  Add in the sardines and break into chunks, gently mixing it around.  Squeeze in half the lemon, take a handful of rocket and add it to the frying pan, season with salt and mix around again.

Cook for a further couple of minutes, so that the rocket begins to wilt slightly.  Place the spaghetti in bowls.  You will notice some of the ingredients are at the base of the pan, so pour equally onto the spaghetti.

Take the rest of the rocket, squeeze some lemon over, grind a little salt and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Mix to combine and coat the rocket, then add to the spaghetti bowls.

Delicious!

 

 

 

Vegetable Chilli

Whilst on my health and fitness regime, I am enjoying making dishes that are not just filling and satisfying but super tasty too.  This vegetable chilli is great for any guests that you may have, that are vegan or vegetarian, plus it is a lighter style of chilli for the summer months.

Please note that honey is optional.  I use a brand of tinned cherry tomatoes that are quite sharp and acidic.  I use a small amount of honey to balance the flavours out.  If your tinned tomatoes are more mellow, then you will not need to use honey.  I also added in a few mushrooms that I had left over.  Those who know me, know that I hate food waste, so if you have any other veggies such as courgette etc, do not be afraid to mix and match.

Calories were approx 420 cals – this was with 60g of Brown rice with Quinoa, which I find more filling than white rice.

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Ingredients – SERVES 2

Small spray of fry light in a wok or non stick pan.
1 Onion
1 Clove of garlic
1 tsp Garam Masala
Pinch of Chilli Flakes – if you like hot food add more
1/2 Red pepper slices
1/2 Green pepper slices
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1 Vegetable stock cube in 150 mls of water
1 400g Tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Optional: Mushrooms/Courgettes – 1 tbsp of runny honey (see note above)

Heat your wok/pan and spray with a little fry light.  Then add your onions and garlic and heat through until the onion begins to soften, making sure that you keep moving the mixture so the onions don’t go brown. Is using any mushrooms add them at this stage.

Add the garam masala and chilli flakes and mix in for a minute or so.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, peppers and kidney beans.  If using soft veggies like courgette etc. add them at this stage too.

Allow the mixture to bubble, making sure that you stir occasionally.  The mixture will eventually reduce down so you have a nice sauce.  It might take 15 minutes or longer.  I will often make this up in advance, and it freezes pretty good too.  Check for acidity of the sauce at this point, and add in the runny honey if needed.  Stir through well.

Serve with rice, preferably a brown variety.

 

 

 

Granola

This recipe for granola may seem slightly decadent with the addition of sugar and golden syrup, however these can always be substituted for something similar if you wish.  It does make quite a large batch, so it isn’t as if you will be eating the whole lot in one sitting.  Granola is crunchy and slightly clumped together, so if you don’t have a sticky substitute like the ingredients in the recipe, it will not be the same.  I also use this as crunchy topping for puddings, see photos below for some inspiration, and you can also check out my video for this recipe on youtube.

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Ingredients

55g Butter
60g Honey
25g Golden Syrup
85g Demerara Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract
30g Hazelnuts roughly chopped
80g Pecan nuts roughly chopped
35g Pistachio roughly chopped
60g Flaked almonds
70g Sunflower seeds
45g Desiccated coconut
125g Porridge Oats
Zest of 2 oranges

Preheat Oven to 150 degrees centigrade approx gas mark 2-3

In a saucepan gently melt the butter, honey, golden syrup and Demerara sugar until it is a smooth liquid and the sugar has melted.  Once off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract.

In a large bowl place all the nuts, seeds, oats and orange zest.  Mix round the dry ingredients and then add the butter syrup from the saucepan.  Mix well, this may take some time to make sure there are no dry pockets of oats and nuts around the bowl.

Pour into a roasting tin and level out.  Place in the oven for around 50 – 60 minutes.  Every 15 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the mixture in the roasting tin, then place back in the oven.  This helps the mixture get golden all over.

Once the cooking time has expired, take the roasting tin out of the oven and let it cool down.  Once cool, you will see that it crisps up and goes crunchy, you can see this in the video clip.  Once properly cool place in a sealed container.

 

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I love this crunchy granola on top of a layer of Greek yoghurt and stewed rhubarb.  Simply chop some rhubarb, add a little water, a couple of drops of vanilla extract and a little sugar  (if you want) in a saucepan.  Let it cool and then place it at the bottom, then layer the other items on top!