a true greek salad

January 4th, 2012 · 17 Comments

One thing you may not know about me: I’m half Greek.  That means that growing up, I learned to count to ten in Greek, celebrated a whole separate Easter (seriously!), baked bread with a dime in it, and ate the best baklava on earth, made by my grandmother. 

What it also means: I am extremely picky about Greek food.  Which is too bad, because Greek and Mediterranean dishes tend to be pirated on terrible menus more than just about any other type.  But one of my major pet peeves: when a Greek salad uses lettuce.

Greek salads are about thick, chunky vegetables and fresh, colorful ingredients.  And yet every diner and subpar restaurant I’ve ever been to seems to want to add lettuce to this dish — probably because it’s cheap?  But a real, true Greek salad consists of just a few ingredients, and it’s one of the freshest, most delicious meals you’ll ever eat.

And on that note, I want to introduce you guys to Costa Navarino, a gourmet food line that’s based in one of the most beautiful regions of Greece, and also happens to be run by one of my cousins!  Even better — their products are available at Dean & Deluca.  So you can bring a little Mediterranean sun (and salad) to your cold January day!

And speaking of color, I couldn’t resist breaking out my Noritake Colorwave plates — they’re 15% off on the Noritake website until January 8th!

True Greek Salad

1 package red or yellow cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 shallot
1/2 jar Costa Navarino olives, in olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use the oil that the olives were packed in if it’s good quality!)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper


Dice tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2″ wedges.  Dice shallot into 1/4″ pieces.  In large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives. Toss with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese over salad, toss again lightly, and serve.

Tags: appetizers · food · salads · side dishes

deep-fried spinach

December 1st, 2011 · 11 Comments

Sometimes recipe ideas from from the unlikeliest sources.

Last weekend I met up with a friend for lunch during the tail end of Black Friday weekend (ugh), and we settled on a pretty generic lunch spot for a quick bite.  I ordered a fairly lackluster seared tuna, and on the side came this incredible creation.

Many of the best things in the world are deep-fried — donuts, chicken fingers (except mine), french fries… you get the idea.  But deep-fried vegetables?  That’s not one that jumped to the forefront of my mind.

But these delicate little bites have everything that’s good about fried food, and they’re a lot better for you than eating a giant funnel cake.  This recipe is probably best as a garnish — it would be amazing topping a delicious pasta recipe or some canapes for a party.  I know these aren’t the prettiest photos, but once you try this recipe, you won’t mind a bit. 


2 cups canola oil
4 cups fresh, washed baby spinach
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper


Heat oil in a frying pan or deep fryer to 375 degrees F.  Place a large handful of fresh spinach in a mesh strainer (or deep fryer basket), and submerge to cook for about thirty seconds. Drain spinach on paper towels, and repeat with remaining batches. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tags: food · side dishes

thanksgiving sweet potatoes and marshmallows

November 21st, 2011 · 3 Comments

Every year for Thanksgiving, we do some traditional recipes and a few new creations — but no matter what side dishes we’re making, this one is always somewhere on the table.  Probably one of the easiest recipes on any Thanksgiving table, these sweet potatoes are a delicious, sweet, and rightfully well-loved holiday classic.

I hope everyone has an awesome holiday — I have so much to be thankful for this year, it’s hard to even get started!  But getting to spend time with our friends and family over the holiday season is — of course — on top of the list.  And Calvin and Coco are so excited for the turkey leftovers!

thanksgiving sweet potatoes and marshmallows


1 (29 ounce) can sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Place sweet potatoes in a medium baking dish.  Roughly mash the potatoes until their consistency is even.  Spread a layer of marshmallows over the sweet potatoes.

Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender and marshmallows have melted.

Tags: food · side dishes