Greek White Bean Soup (Fasolada)
Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes | Servings: 6
Dried cannellini beans that are soaked before cooking yield a full-flavored soup and creamy, silky-textured beans. To soak the beans, in a large bowl stir together 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add the beans, let soak at room temperature for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours, then drain well. Canned beans work in a pinch; see instructions below. We do as we were taught in Greece and use extra-virgin olive oil to give the soup a little body and fruity, peppery richness throughout; vigorously whisking in a few tablespoons before serving, rather than just drizzling it on, does the trick. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to two days; reheat in a saucepan over low, adding water as needed to thin the consistency.
Don’t skip the step of mashing 1 cup of the cooked beans to stir back into the soup. The mashed beans give the soup a creamy, lightly thickened consistency.
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 3 medium celery stalks, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped, divided
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans, soaked and drained (see note)
- 2 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
In a large pot over medium, heat 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, half the carrots and . teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beans and the broth, then bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cover partially, reduce to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup of the beans to a medium bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the beans to a paste, then whisk the mixture back into the soup. Add the remaining carrots, bring to a simmer over medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are just tender, about 10 minutes.
Off heat, stir in the vinegar, then vigorously whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the parsley, olives and cheese.
Greek White Bean Soup (Fasolada) with Canned Beans:
Rinse and drain four 15 1/2-ounce cans cannellini beans; measure 1 cup of the beans into a medium bowl, then use a potato masher or fork to mash to a paste. Follow the recipe as written, making the following changes: Add all of the carrots at once; reduce the broth to 1 1/2 quarts; and add both the whole and mashed beans at once. After bringing to a simmer over medium-high, reduce to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and maintaining a gentle simmer, until the carrots are just tender, about 20 minutes. Finish the soup off heat as directed.
Shrimp with Feta Cheese (Garides Saganaki)
Start to finish: 30 minutes | Servings 4
This classic Greek dish pairs plump, sweet shrimp with briny feta cheese. We added chopped Kalamata olives for added savoriness, as well as ground fennel seed for a hint of anise flavor. Our preferred tomato for this recipe is Campari (or cocktail) tomatoes, as they tend to be sweet and flavorful year-round; they’re larger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than standard round tomatoes and usually sold on the vine in plastic containers. We tried cherry and grape tomatoes but found their skins to be tough and unpleasant in the finished sauce. Chopped Peppadew peppers are an unconventional ingredient, but their mild, sweet heat makes them a welcome addition. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
Don’t use pre-crumbled feta. The cheese plays a prominent role in this dish, so good-quality feta sold in blocks is important. We had success using Greek, Bulgarian, French and Israeli feta.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/4 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, patted dry
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons fennel seeds, finely ground
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 pounds small tomatoes, such as Campari, chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely diced
- ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 4 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
- 1/4 cup chopped Peppadew peppers (optional)
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add half the shrimp in an even layer and cook without disturbing until deep golden brown on the bottoms, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir and cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque on all sides, another 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the remaining the shrimp. Set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add the garlic, fennel and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is light golden brown, about 20 seconds. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is almost evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, olives and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce, 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oregano, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Return the shrimp to the skillet, along with the accumulated juices. Cover the pan and let stand until the shrimp are heated through, about 1 minute.
Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the feta, finely diced tomatoes, the Peppadews (if using) and the remaining 2 teaspoons oregano.
Spicy Feta Dip (Tirokafteri)
Start to finish: 10 minutes | Makes 3 1/2 cups
Tirokafteri is a Greek cheese-based dip or spread that can be flavored numerous ways. In our version, we build complexity by combining two cheeses with different characteristics: creamy, tangy chèvre (fresh goat cheese) and firm, briny feta. Roasted red peppers give the dip sweetness and color, while the Anaheim chili and hot smoked paprika lend some heat. If you don’t have hot smoked paprika, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Don’t add more Anaheim chili if you’re looking to increase the spiciness. Instead, up the hot paprika or toss a Fresno chili into the food processor before pureeing.
- 8 ounces chèvre (fresh goat cheese)
- 1/2 cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry
- 1 Anaheim chili, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- 3/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped, plus more to serve
In a food processor, combine the goat cheese, roasted peppers, Anaheim chili, oil, paprika, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed.
Transfer to a medium bowl. Fold in the feta and dill, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with additional oil, dill and black pepper.
PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES