Makaronia me Vlita & Vasiliko

Post Update:

One of the many things I did during my vacation in Greece was to also cook and appear with my friend Chef Dina Nikolaou on her daily show, “Nistikoi Praktores”.

We taped at a Manaviko (green grocer) in Halandri (north Athens) and in keeping with this season’s theme of frugal dishes, I offered to cook up this Makaronia with Vlita & Vasilliko.

Thank you to Dina, Christianna, the crew and STAR channel for a most memorable day!

One of the many things I did during my vacation in Greece was to also cook and appear with my friend Chef Dina Nikolaou on her daily show, “Nistikoi Praktores”.

We taped at a Manaviko (green grocer) in Halandri (north Athens) and in keeping with this season’s theme of frugal dishes, I offered to cook up this Makaronia w…ith Vlita & Vasilliko. The recipe is also on my site.

Thank you to Dina, Christianna, the crew and STAR channel for a most memorable day!

I am currently writing this post from Hania, Crete. I was so excited to be able to finally visit this truly remarkable part of Greece. Crete is Greece’s largest island and it’s located south of the mainland. The people here proudly eat and drink locally and the cuisine is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet: grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits, cheeses and fish and meat is eaten sparingly.

I am staying the home of my friend’s family Panagiotis, who also produce and distribute Acropolis Organics Olive Oil. It’s too early to be helping in the olive harvest but the family assures me that the next best thing is enjoying Crete as the locals do and I can think of no better way to experience that than by staying at the home of Cretans.

Greek basil

With some embarrassment, Panagiotis mentions my blog to his friends and before you know it, into the kitchen I go to whip up a dish that’s made almost entirely of ingredients from their land: garden ripe tomatoes, Acropolis Organics Olive Oil, fresh basil, a wild green that Greeks love to eat called Vlita (amaranth) and Kefalotyri cheese. Throw in some local sea salt, ground pepper and garlic and the dish is complete.

Vlita (amaranth)

Our neighbor Soula introduced me to a pasta dish with greens mixed in with the sauce. You have water boiling for pasta, just thrown in your seasonal of greens of choice to blanche and cook them down a bit then shock them in an ice bath so that they retain their bright green colour. Again, the king of wild greens for Greeks is Vlita, or amaranth. Use what you like or what’s at hand.

Most of Greece is blanketed by some hot weather, which forces one to feed the family well and quickly. Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen when there are beaches like this to be enjoyed here in Crete?

Balos Beach

Upon tasting this dish, the slightly bitter Vlita greens are balanced by the sweet basil and tomato sauce, garlic and Kefalotyri offer the savory aspect and the olive oil is the velvety ingredient that rounds out the sauce.

Makaronia me Vlita ke Vasiliko (Μακαρονια με Βλίτα και Βασιλικο )

(serves 4)

1 pkge. of Misko#6 spaghetti

about 4 large, very ripe garden tomatoes, passed through a box grater OR 1 796ml can of crushed plum tomatoes

(skins discarded)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6-7 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of fresh Greek basil (or any other basil)

Approx. 4 cups of Amaranth leaves (vlita or any other wild, slightly bitter green)

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

grated Kefalotyri cheese

  1. Place a large pot of water on your stove-top. Bring to a boil and a good amount of salt. Rinse your Amaranth (Vlita) under cold water and place in the salted boiling water. Bring back to a boil and simmer the Vlita for 5 minutes. Remove with a strainer, run cold water under the greens and allow to drain.
  2. In the meantime, place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the garlic and as soon as soon as you can smell the garlic, add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce back to medium, season with salt and pepper and simmer down until the sauce is thick, little water left in the sauce. Turn off the heat and keep warm.
  3. As soon as the pasta is cooked, strain and add into the sauce along with the Vlita and chopped basil. Toss the pasta until the sauce has mixed well and divide and serve.
  4. Pair with a Nostos/Manousakis Red blend.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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20 Comments for “Makaronia me Vlita & Vasiliko”

says:

mmm yum i’m gonna go to my kinezo market and find me some amaranth aka red spinaki now. your recipes are always the best! enjoy hania and that olive oil.

says:

Δεν τελειώνουν τελικά οι συνδυασμοί των καλοκαιρινών κηπευτικών.Ωραιότατη η σάλτσα σας και ακόμη ωραιότερο ολόκληρο το post σας

says:

Thordis does a hiking trip to Crete…you never know…… O agree that the best way to explore and learn about an area of the country is to be the guest of the locals.

says:

This looks like a delicious and simple pasta, Peter. Glad you are enjoying your time in Greece, especially in my pappou’s hometown. :)

says:

I’m so jealous–Greece is the last of the top 3 places that I have yet to visit. My husband visited Crete many years ago and loved it. One of these years, hopefully, and I’ll be able to enjoy some of the island’s bounty (like this beautiful dish).

says:

Those clear blue waters are too dreamy. Still I am amazed that your pictures have almost nobody in the water. Do you say something to scare them off? how can a beach like this not be mobbed?

says:

That water looks so beautiful!!! Very jealous! The pasta dish is similar to one that we make for a quick meal but without the addition of the greens! Must try that with something!