Greek cuisine has always been about simplicity, the dishes are not complex but rely on seasonal, fresh and seasonal ingredients. Many of Greece’s most popular dishes were born out of need and necessity – peasant dishes. More than ever, a return to more traditional ingredients is the mindshift in Greece – be it out of necessity or uncertainty about days ahead.
One of my favourite dishes is Giouvarlakia soup: beef/veal is mixed with rice and made into meatballs then gently dropped in stock with some rice until cooked. The starches from the rice thicken the stock but the real magic happens when I temper the hot liquid with a beaten eggs and lemon juice and the soup transforms into a creamy, comforting dish that takes me back to when mom made this soup when I sick.
In keeping with the resourceful nature of Greek cookery, I created this dish with the purpose of using up some leftover rice in the fridge and hopefully creating an entirely new one. Inspired by Giouvarlakia, I kneaded some ground beef and added some the cooked rice as binder along with an egg, some grated onion, spices and seasoning. The meatballs were browned in a skillet then I added some stock, some green lentils for a little fiber and simmered it until reduced by half and surely the lentils were tender.
The meatballs are simmered in the stock and rather than finish this dish with beaten eggs and lemon juice, I achieved a similar flavour and texture by adding strained Greek yogurt at the end. Reheated rice was divided among plates, the meatballs placed on top and the thick yogurt sauce is spooned over the meatballs dropping beaneath into the rice, just blanketing it.
I’m very pleased with this dish which pays homage to another Greek dish while using leftovers (rice) and becoming a whole new dish on it’s own!
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, passed through a box grater
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup leftover cooked rice
1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
flour for dredging
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup green lentils
1 heaping Tbsp. of all purpose flour
2 cups of stock (beef, veal, chicken, vegetable)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4-1/2 cup FAGE strained Greek yogurt
- In a bowl, add the ground beef, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg and beaten egg. Mix with your hands and roll into meatballs (you may want to fry a small piece of meat to taste-test and adjust seasoning). Dredge lightly in flour then place add a couple of turns of oil in a skillet and over medium-high meat brown the meatballs on all sides. Reserve the meatballs.
- Pour off any excess oil (leave some in the pan) and add the flour and stir for a minute then add the stock, scallions and lentils – bring to a boil. Now carefully add the meatballs and simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half and it has thickened. Adjust seasoning and take off the heat.
- Add the yogurt into the sauce one tablespoon at a table and gently swirl in. Keep adding the yogurt until the sauce has thickened to your liking and tart enough. Add the chopped fresh dill and divide and place the meatballs over the reheated leftover rice and pour sauce over the meatballs. Serve immediately.
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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