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Your Greek Night Menu

Lead Photo Courtesy of Kensho Psarou in Mykonos, Greece

Maybe it’s the news — that there will be enough vaccines by the end of April for all who would like to partake — that has us dreaming big. As in, summer-in-Greece-overlooking-the-Aegean big. Maybe dancing-on-a-table-at-Nammos big. In the meantime, we’ve got a Greek night menu to make for all your vaccinated peeps while plotting your summer plans.

The beauty of Greek food is its simplicity.  It’s about the freshness of the ingredients and not over-engineering the food.   You can eat copious amounts of grilled vegetables and branzino, and yet still be healthy, because it’s olive oil, and not butter based.  There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet has been attributed to the long and quality of life of the Greeks, though we also think it has something to do with that stunning scenery, fresh air and Mediterranean sea, that melts away any of life’s stress.

While we’re awaiting our return to Europe as Americans, this is our menu and a few select recipes that were inspired by our stay at Kensho Psarou in Mykonos, and the Amanzoe in the Peloponnese peninsula.

The Menu

To Begin
Romaine Salad
Greek Salad
Saganaki
Trio of Dips – Tzatziki, Tirosalata and Chef Ben’s Hummus

The Main Course
Grilled Branzino
Grilled Lobster Tail
Broccoli Crowns
The Milos Special – Fried Zucchini

To Finish
Greek Yogurt with Honey and Fruit
Baklava

Recipes

Romaine Salad

This is the dark horse of salads, as you don’t expect romaine to be anything special.  The secret here to chop up the romaine finely, almost like a chiffonade of lettuce, add just the right amount of dill and to use manouri cheese, in lieu of feta, which is a milder version.  In lieu of a creamy dressing we like to use an olive oil and Meyer lemon with just the right amount of Maldon sea salt.  The flavors are both savory while being light, and what’s best is that this is an all-year round salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 large heads of romaine lettuce
4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill
4 ounces of crumbled Manouri cheese

For the dressing:
1 Meyer lemon, juiced
1/2 cup Greek olive oil
Maldon sea salt, to taste

Wash and drain the lettuce well, until it is fully dry.  Finely chop the lettuce in long slices, as thinly and finely as your knife skills will allow.  Toss with the fresh dill and cheese and chill until you are ready to serve.

For the dressing, add the lemon juice to a bowl, and slowly whisk in the olive oil, until the dressing is emulsified.  Add in the salt to taste, and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

Grilled Lobster Tail

We know this statement may create discussion, but the best lobster tails we’ve grilled in recent times have been Brazilian in provenance.  Save the Maine for your lobster salad or steamed versions, where they shine.  The firmer, and denser meat of the Brazilian tails make them perfect for the grill.

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 4 ounce Brazilian lobster tails, thawed and cut in half
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
Meyer lemon

Directions

On a very hot Le Creuset grill that has been warmed up on high for at least 3 minutes, baste the grill with olive oil.  Mix the olive oil, paprika and sea salt in a bowl, and generously brush the meat side of the lobsters.  Place meat side down on the hot grill and reduce heat to medium, while lightly browning the lobster meat, for about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the lobsters onto the shells and baste the meat again with the olive oil mixture.  Squeeze the Meyer lemon on the tails and allow to cook on the medium heat, shell side down for another 4-5 minutes, until the lobsters are cooked through.  Baste one last time in the olive oil mixture.  Serve immediately with extra slices of lemon.

The Milos Special

Ok we know we said that Greek food is healthy, but the one splurge is the fried zucchini, that we can’t help but order at Milos in NYC.  So this is as healthy as deep fried food can be, because it does barely have any batter whatsoever – just a touch of flour and salt.  You can also air fry but it’s just not the same.

Serves 4

Ingredients
3 medium organic zucchinis
1 cup flour
Maldon sea salt

Vegetable oil – not olive – for deep frying

Mandolin the zucchini into the thinnest slices possible, and dip in flour and sea salt mixture.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet to 350 degrees.  Prepare to work very quickly, as you will flash fry the zucchini until they are just barely browned, and transfer them immediately to a plate with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.  Place the prepared zucchini in a warm oven until ready to serve.  Presentation is everything for this dish.  In the center of the dish, add a generous scoop of tzatziki.  Arrange the zucchini in a circular patterned tower around the tzatziki.  You won’t be able to see the sauce when you’re done, but when you serve it, add the theatrics of breaking the circular tower with a knife to reveal the sauce, table side.

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