Greek food — real, fresh, diverse Greek food — is often underrepresented here in the States. Sure, you can find a "Greek salad" anywhere, but from the mountains to the islands, Greece is a country of many different regions and dishes. Fortunately, for those of us who love Greek cuisine and want to learn more, there's The Country Cooking of Greece by Diane Kochilas. Omnivores and vegetarians alike will enjoy the rustic, homestyle recipes, many of them featuring ingredients like whole grains, healthy greens, and other seasonal fare.
• Who wrote it: Diane Kochilas
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Number of recipes: 200
• Recipes for right now: Peloponnese Bean Soup with Sardines and Feta, Ouzo-Braised Cabbage with Pork Sausage, Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Moussaka, Northern Greek-Style Braised Leeks and Celery Root with Paprika and Lemon, Marinated Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Figs and Olives, Buttery Polenta with Spoon Sweets
• Other highlights: With stories and pictures throughout, this book's focus is on country-style food and the dishes are comforting, traditional yet flexible, and good for sharing with family and friends. Though fairly simple, the recipes do depend on good quality ingredients, and readers learn about everything from Greek cheeses (beyond feta!) to olive oil, vinegar, spirits, artichokes, wild greens, and more.
As a vegetarian, I especially like Diane Kochilas's emphasis on vegetables, beans, and other meatless dishes. Of course, there's also plenty to satisfy the omnivores, with several chapters on seafood, poultry, and meat. A nice chapter on meze delves into the tradition of small dishes with advice on wine pairing, assembly, and lots of recipes.
If you're like me, you'll come away from The Country Cooking of Greece with several dozen recipes bookmarked to use throughout the year, as well as a deeper appreciation of the country's diverse regions and cultures.
• Who would enjoy this book? Omnivores and vegetarians, Greek food and culture lovers or those who want to learn more
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Country Cooking of Greece by Diane Kochilas
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(Images: Emily Han)