Growing in a Greek household, yogurt has been part of our diet since as early as I can recall. My mom would make homemade yogurt starting with a large pot of milk on the stovetop that she would bring to just scalding then take off the heat and add reserved batch/starter of yogurt and allow then place the containers of still warm milk wrapped & bundled like precious little babies until the next morning. The yogurt was then place in the fridge to chill and homemade yogurt would again be enjoyed. There was always some in the fridge to eat as a snack, part of your breakfast or as a component of a dish (like today’s recipe). Yogurt has probiotics (good bacteria), protein and calcium and besides the health benefits – it tastes great!
Alot of companies have entered the market with their own version of Greek yogurt – some are okay, some are horrible (gritty texture and thickened with the aid of gelatine) and some are fabulous: rich, think and full of flavour. I love FAGE yogurt because it comes very close to the yogurt I remember as a child and continue to eat in my adult life.
The other great think about Greek yogurt is that it can used in place of sour cream, crème fraîche or heavy cream in dishes. You get all the richness of a dish but you reduce calories. Baked potato? No more sour cream – I drop strained Greek yogurt on it. Cheesecakes work wonderfully with Greek yogurt and although I still like cream in my coffee and it still sneaks into a cream sauce here and there – I’ve reduced the amount of heavy cream in my diet by adding a dollop (or two) of strained Greek yogurt to a dish and I get the same creamy effect.
Today’s dish uses some cream but it’s only 1/4 cup for 4 persons…1 Tbsp. per serving and evaporated milk works in a pinch and once again Greek yogurt rounds out this posh dish that’s fit for even those on a budget. The other main ingredient here is Tarama, a fish roe that’s whipped into making a taverna favourite called Taramosalata. Tarama can be salty to the taste and if that’s the case, soak the roe in just enough water to cover them for 20 minutes then strain. They should still be briny to the taste.
Greek food is very popular because it tastes great, the recipes are easy and mostly rely on quality ingredients rather than technique and with so many people traveling to Greece and coming back with wonderful food memories, it’s no wonder that Greek ingredients and Greek food has become so popular.
Greek wines and spirits have also made a resurgence and the selection today goes well beyond Retsina and Ouzo. This dish uses Tsipouro which is a spirit made from the by-product of wine with skins and stems being distilled until it becomes a potent “eau de vie”. Many Tsipouros are spiked with anise (some with Mastiha) but this one’s just straight-up Tsipouro. This spirit is not Ouzo and it’s called called Raki or Tsikoudia in Crete.
1/4 cup o extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/4 cup Tsipouro/Raki (without anise) or Grappa
1/3 – 1/2 cup Tarama
1 500 gr. package of spaghettini
zest of 1 lemon
reserved 1/2 cup pasta water
1/4 Greek yogurt, room temperature
pinch of chilli flakes (Boukovo) or fresh ground pepper
extra strained Greek yogurt
extra tarama for garnish
chopped fresh chives for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a good amount of salt to water and once it returns to a boil, add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, place a large skillet on the stovetop over medium heat and add your olive oil, scallions, garlic and sweat for five minutes. Now add the Tsipouro/Raki and simmer for another 2-3 minutes then add the cream and continue to simmer while stirring until the sauce just coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and add the Tarama and stir-in, reserve.
- When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and strain. Now add the pasta into the sauce along with the lemon zest and add pasta water in increments while tossing along with the Greek yogurt until creamy.
- Divide and plate, sprinkle chilli flakes or top with fresh ground pepper, a dollop of Greek yogurt topped with some tarama and chopped fresh chives and serve.
As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/
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