Billa's Greek Dinner
Updated: May 10
I’ve always loved Greek food. So, when it was my turn to host a theme dinner, it was a no-brainer to do a Greek meal. I knew I’d want the classics represented - Greek salad, spanakopita, roasted potatoes with lemon and oregano, tzatziki - but I also wanted some less familiar Greek dishes. So, with the help of the library and the Internet, I put together this menu:
Celery Root Soup with Fig Pesto
Traditional Greek Salad
Crispy Chicken with Artichokes, Lemon, and Olives
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon, and Oregano
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pistachio Sauce
Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
Greek Fruit Salad
To set the mood, I played music from Never on Sunday and Zorba the Greek. The colors of the Greek flag - blue and white - were represented throughout - from the blue tablecloth to various blue and white platters, to the clothes I wore. There was also a fun Greek trivia quiz.
I think the most successful dishes were the following:
The spanakopita, with a spinach and feta filling,
which I learned to perfect by watching a YouTube video at:
The celery root soup with fig-feta pesto,
which I had found in a book called My Greek Table by Diane Kochilas, and that had a very unusual taste with a melange of complex flavors, including the anise extract that I used as a substitute for ouzo.
And the cauliflower with pistachio sauce,
which made a dazzling appearance. While this is not strictly a Greek recipe, since the best pistachios in the world are purported to come from the Greek island of Aegina, I thought it proper to include the dish on the menu. You can find the recipe here: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1021963-whole-roasted-cauliflower-with-pistachio-pesto
Other notable dishes included a Greek caponata, which unlike Italian versions contains no eggplant, but red and yellow peppers, garlic confit, and green olives. And although everyone agreed it was very tasty, I will not be making it again, as it involved components built from four different recipes.
Another dish that received rave reviews was the cheesecake made with Greek yogurt, which had a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness. Finally, I thought the fruit salad provided just the right refreshing, sweet and minty note at the end to offset all that saltiness of the feta cheese and olives that permeated the meal.