Savory Greek Salad Cheesecake

I am a food lover, but you already know that. 🙂  What I mean is, I love good food no matter what the cuisine. I always love learning about new ingredients and techniques from around the world. However, I’m totally in love with the foods of my homeland. Greek food is delicious, welcoming, nutritious and in short, amazing. So I wanted to take a few simple ingredients and bring something different to the plate. To elevate presentation in a way that matches the wonderful taste.

One big favorite of mine is classic Greek salad. It is a dish in which one can actually taste Greece – in the ripe and sweet tomatoes, and the sourness of the extra virgin olive oil. So I named my dish Savory Greek Salad Cheesecake.

I had this idea in my head to make something tall and elegant. My notion here is not to change the taste of the dish, but to merely give it a different perspective. Greek cuisine is among the best and the healthiest. It is full of traditions and recipes that date a looooong way back. But that doesn’t mean it cannot be for the modern era that likes cleaner lines and different ideas.

So there it is my friends, my Greek Salad Cheesecake! I loved making it. Find the steps here.

 

Prepping

Start by slicing the tomatoes. Remove most of the seeds and fluid. Crumble the feta cheese with your hands and put aside. Take the potato peeler and peel off thin slices of cucumbers. Get the spring onions and cut them in taller and shorter pieces lengthwise.

 

Making the Greek Salad Cheesecake

You will need a cake ring. Preferably the adjustable size one. This way you can make it as big or small as you like. I opted for 15.5 cm / 6.1 inc diameter.

So place the ring on the actual serving plate and make the first layer with the tomatoes. Tuck them in nicely, 2-3 layers of tomatoes should be enough. Thereafter, you will add the crumbled feta. Spread it all around squeeze it just enough to come into shape. The next thing to to do is to arrange the cucumber slices on top. It’s a free style design so go crazy. 🙂 🙂 Lastly, get the onion pieces and stick them in the feta on whichever side you like, making a nice design.

Refrigerate in the cake ring until serving. Whereupon you just remove the ring slowly and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some oregano on top. Enjoy!

Greek Salad savory Cheesecake

This is my take on a Greek classic. Greek salad transformed into a savory Cheesecake. It is a beautiful little thing that will decorate your dinner or party table in an elegant way. Go ahead and try something different!

  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 650 g (1.4 lbs) feta, crumbled
  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onion, cut lengthwise
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. You will need a cake ring. Place the ring on the serving plate and layer the tomato slices. Tuck them in nicely, 2-3 layers of tomatoes are enough. 

  2. Thereafter add the crumbled feta. Spread it all around squeeze it just enough to come into shape. 

  3. Arrange the cucumber slices on top. It’s a free style design so go crazy. 🙂 🙂 Lastly, get the onion pieces and stick them in the feta on whichever side you like, making a nice design.

  4. Refrigerate in the cake ring until serving. Whereupon you just remove the ring slowly and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some oregano on top. Enjoy!

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Zucchini fritters – Greek Kolokithokeftedes

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year  – my number one is Christmas, but let’s not talk about Christmas right now lol. Summer to me is beautiful weather and clear blue waters. But most of all, I love the carefreeness that comes with it. Reminds me of my childhood. However, on the more practical side, the lack of time is a typical summer “problem”. Whether you are a parent vacationing with your kids. Or you are trying to navigate thru work and summery nights out with friends. There’s just not enough time. Free time for yourself can seem like a midsummer night’s dream! So for all of you that struggle with time management, but still want to have quality food my answer is: Zucchini fritters, a quick and easy recipe that everyone loves.

Zucchini are at their prime during summer, sweet and flavorful. It would be a shame not to put them to use. This recipe is inexpensive and pretty easy to put together. So let’s just jump right in and make our fritters.  Like I said, time is quite precious these days!

Making the zucchini fritters mixture

First things first, grate your zucchinis with the big hole side of the grater. Sprinkle some salt on the grated zucchini and (ideally) wrap it in cheesecloth. Strain to release most of the juice. You don’t have cheesecloth? (And why would you have cheesecloth packed in your luggage while on vacation?? haha) Use your bare and thoroughly washed hands. It’s that simple. Then put the zuchhini aside.

In a bowl add the grated onions, beaten eggs, garlic, fresh thyme and mint. Mix lightly. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper. Throw in the feta in big crumbles and mix as lightly as possible. Now add the flour tbsp by tbsp. You might need to use less or more, it really depends upon the moisture of your ingredients. The consistency you are looking for is barely thick, but able to be formed into a loose ball.

Put some olive oil in a frying pan and bring it to med – high heat. Not too high because the fritters will burn. Take some of the mixture and make a little ball with your hands. Directly place it in the pan. 1-2 mins per side are enough.  You don’t have to press it down to flatten it, it will “fall” naturally down as it fires. You might want to adjust the heat to medium at this point. Lift a little of the the fritter and check the color. It should be golden brown. Then turn them on the other side.

Tip: Zucchini fritters cook quickly so I don’t fry more than 4 or 5 at a time. Good luck!

Zucchini fritters – Greek kolokithokeftedes

Zucchini fritters – Greek kolokithokeftedes. You want enjoy your full-of-fun-but-no-time-summer-with-kids? Thea answer is zucchini fritters.

  • 700 g (1.5 lbs) grated zucchini
  • 2 onions, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch (2 cups leaves picked) fresh mint, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) flour
  • 200 g (7 oz) feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Grate your zucchinis with the big hole side of the grater. Sprinkle the grated zucchini with some salt and ideally wrap in cheesecloth. Strain to release most of the juice.  If you don’t have a cheesecloth, squeeze tight with your hands.  Put the zuchhini aside.

  2. In a bowl add the grated onions, beaten eggs, garlic, fresh thyme and mint. Mix lightly. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper. Throw in the feta in big crumbles and mix as lightly as possible.

  3.  Now add the flour tbsp by tbsp. You might need to use less or more. The consistency needs to be barely thick, but able to be formed into a loose ball.

  4. Put some olive oil in a frying pan and bring it to med – high heat. Not too high because the fritters will burn. Take some of the mixture and make a little ball with your hands. Directly place it in the pan and fry for 1-2 mins per side. You don’t have to press it down to flatten it, it will “fall” naturally down as it fires. 

  5. Adjust the heat to medium at this point if you have to. Lift a little of the the fritter and check the color. It should be golden brown. Then turn them on the other side.

    Tip: Zucchini fritters cook quickly so I don’t fry more than 4 or 5 at a time. Good luck!

 

Tomato fritters – Ntomatokeftedes

It can’t be a summer without sweet, fleshy, delicious tomatoes. And in this dish, they are the centerpiece. Because tomatoes are so crucial, please please use extra good quality ones. My grandmother typically made this ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters) in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. Big and red and irregularly shaped, they should be soft to the touch, but extremely beafy inside. So much so that when you grab one in your hand and poke it with your thumb, you feel the flesh merely squeezing in and only underneath your thumb, the rest of the tomato is intact.

In my father’s vegetable garden in Greece, when I want to make a salad I just cut the tomatoes straight from the plant. Then slice them up on a plate with olive oil, feta cheese and oregano and I have the perfect lunch. Right there on the patio, next to the mesmerizing vegetable plants. It doesn’t get much fresher and simpler than that! I think it’s that simplicity that actually allows you to connect and savor the food all the more.

How to make the mixture

If you love tomatoes as much as I do, you will love ntomatokeftedes. Basically they are tomato fritters. That’s it, simple. So you take your tomatoes and chop up half of them. The other half you grate by hand. I find that this half/half way of prep makes the fritters juicier.

So put the tomatoes in a bowl. Throw in your beaten egg, grated onion, strong oregano and dried thyme. Now chop up your mint and add it together with the crumbled feta. Put in salt and pepper. Next, you add the flour tbsp by tbsp mixing lightly each time. The consistency should be just thick enough to be spooned out and into the frying pan. The batter should stick together, but not too thick.  If it is too thick, the taste will be “floury”.

To fry the ntomatokeftedes

Heat up some olive oil over medium low fire. Use a tablespoon to spoon the mixture into the frying pan. Fry each side for 2-3 mins. I repeat medium to low fire here because it’s important to not overcook them. They should be golden brown and crispy outside but slightly raw inside.

 

When my palate fills up with those semi raw tomatoes, I can feel that beachy, summery carefreeness. I am almost on that beach getting my feet wet! After all, isn’t that what makes food magic? It’s ability to bestow an experience upon us that can transport us from one feeling to the other. I think that’s pretty amazing!

Bon appetit!

Ntomatokeftedes – Tomato fritters

Ntomatokeftedes – Tomato fritters, is a quite popular dish in Greece. Hearty and juicy and full of summer and beaches and carefreeness.

  • 500 g good quality tomatoes (half chopped / half grated) (( abt 17.5 oz))
  • 12 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp strong oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 7 tbsp fresh mint, chppped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 130 g feta, crumbled (4.5 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop up half of your tomatoes and grate the other half. Put them in a bowl.

  2. Throw in your beaten egg, the grated onion, the oregano, the dried thyme, the mint and basil. Add in the feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Next, you add the flour tbsp by tbsp mixing lightly each time. The consistency should be just thick enough to be spooned out and into the frying pan. The batter should stick together but not too thick.

  4. Heat up some olive oil over medium low fire. Use a tablespoon to spoon out the mixture into the frying pan. Fry each side 2-3 mins or until golden brown. Don’t overfry them, you want them slightly raw on the inside. 

Super easy mini Cheese pies

Sometimes a girl needs her cheese pie. And because that particular day I had no extra time to spare, I came up with a really quick recipe for super easy mini cheese pies. I kid you not, it was 5 pm when I thought of making the pies and by 6 pm we had to leave for our afternoon swimming. Well not only did I make them, but they turned out to be a hit too! Especially with my 1.5 year old as you can see below.

If you ever find yourself in Greece, you have to have a cheese pie.

There are bakeries on every other corner baking bread, savory pies, cream filled fillo pastries and everything in between. In case you are an early riser all the better, just let your nose lead you there. My husband Rob is in love with those pies. Whenever we visit Greece, we are not going anywhere without stopping on the way (sometimes twice…) to get a cheese pie and a coffee. They are cheap, delicious and easy to devour on the go. This is why everyone loves them. Kids love them, and they make a great side addition on your party table. So lets make them!

Making the dough:

Depending on the flour you are using, you might need a little bit more or less to get the consistency right. So start by adding the 1 1/2 cup of the flour together with baking powder in a bowl. Right after add in the yogurt and melted butter.  Mix together by hand until well combined. Now start adding the rest of the flour bit by bit, while kneading. This dough requires very little kneading. When the flour is almost all in, form the dough in a big ball and lift it up with both hands. “Play” a bit with the ball, move it from hand to hand. Does it stick on your skin? If yes, it needs a bit more flour. If it is just at the point where it doesn’t stick, it’s ready! If you have 15 mins to spare, let it rest in the fridge.

To assemble the cheese pies:

First, line a tray with baking paper and grease it with butter.

Have ready a little plate with some flour in, just in case you need it.

Take a small piece of dough, the size of a whole walnut shell. Squeeze it down in between your hands so that it forms a little circle.

 

Forming the dough

 

Put in some feta cheese and squeeze in with your fingers a little bit more than you think it’s ok (some cheese will melt away while baking). So squeeze in with your index fingers and bring together the dough edges with your thumb and middle fingers. Press the dough so that it sticks nicely. Done!

Place the cheese pies on the tray and brush them with beaten egg. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t look so smooth. Baking will take care of that!

Bake them for 20-25 mins at 190 C / 375 F, The color has to be light golden.

 

Super easy mini Cheesepies

Sometimes a girl needs her cheese pie. And because that particular day I had no extra time to spare, I came up with a really quick recipe for super easy mini cheese pies. Super easy and delicious!

  • 2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 70 g butter ((2.5 oz))
  • 200 g greek yogurt ((7 oz))
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 300 g feta cheese ((10.5 oz))
  • 1 egg beaten
  1. Making the dough:

    Depending on the flour you are using, you might need a little bit more or less to get the consistency right. So start by adding the 1 1/2 cup of the flour together with baking powder in a bowl.

  2. Then add in the yogurt and melted butter. Mix together by hand until well combined.

  3. Add the rest of the flour bit by bit, while kneading. This dough requires very little kneading.

  4. When the flour is almost all in, form the dough in a big ball and lift it up with both hands. “Play” a bit with the ball, move it from hand to hand. If it sticks on your skin it needs a bit more flour. If it is just at the point where it doesn’t stick, it’s ready!

  5. Let it rest for 15 mins in the fridge (if you don’t have the time, you can omit this step)

  6. To assemble the cheese pies:

    Firstly, line a tray with baking paper and grease it with butter.

  7. Take a small piece of dough, the size of a whole walnut shell. Squeeze it down in between your hands so that it forms a little circle.

  8. Put in some feta cheese and squeeze in with your fingers a little bit more than you think it’s ok (some cheese will melt away while baking).

  9. Bring together the dough edges with your thumb and middle fingers. Press the dough so that it sticks well together.

  10. Place them on the tray and brush them with beaten egg.

    Bake them for 20-25 mins at 190 C / 375 F, The color has to be light golden.