A recent article by Diana Farr Louis titled “Cucina Povera – Greek Style” got me thinking about all the tasty dishes in Greek cookery that were concocted during times of poverty and necessity. There’s the Macedonian Makalo, a flour-based sauce, there’s potato stew (Yiachni), the countless boiled greens harvested from the countryside, Bobota (bread from cornmeal). I could go on but you get my point.
Farr Louis’ article takes us back in time to when the Red Cross was handling food redistribution and things got so bad that Greece even accepted supplies arriving from Turkish ships! Folks in the cities starved while Greece hasn’t gotten that far (yet), it could get that way if she reverts to the Drachma. With the Drachma will come some benefits but for a country that imports natural gas, petrol and other natural resources, a weak Drachma means reduced buying power and once again, those food items from the countryside will remain in that particular region of Greece as well.
Folks will have to rely more on local food items. Say buh-bye to Parmesan and Prosciutto! Greeks are very resourceful and when the going gets tough, the Greeks get testy, resourceful. I’m not nor is anyone saying this bleak situation in Greece is good but some good will come out of it – one aspect being a return to a more traditional Greek (Mediterranean) diet, less meat, more local ingredients and hold the mayonnaise please!
Some of the best cooks are the ones who can open a fridge then peek in a pantry and concoct a dish with what’s at hand, feed hungry family or friends and be center much praise. I can’t hear your applause but I know you’ll try this dish and be amazed at the complex flavours despite the few ingredients in this pasta dish.
I went rifling through my fridge to scrounge-up ingredients for a light lunch and I came up with a small jar of leftover tarama (fish roe), lemons, herbs, bread crumbs, almonds. There’s always pasta, garlic, olive oil in Ouzo in the house and what became a meal of necessity (too busy to think about a meal and too hungry to stall) turned into a nice discovery about creating a dish and doing it on a dime!
This pasta dish began by toasting some bread crumbs in a pan with garlic, add some leftover Tarama, a splash of Ouzo, parsley and dried Greek oregano and adding some lemon zest. A “sauce” that’s ready before the pasta has cooked and once again, proof that the best sauces are created even before the pasta is ready! Even more, the surprise with this pasta dish is the combo of lemon zest, the salty tarama and bread crumbs fools your palate into thinking the pasta was tossed in cheese! Worth a go don’t you think?
Makaronia With Tarama
1 – 500 gr. package of spaghetti
1 cup of coarse bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
3-4 Tbsp. tarama (fish roe)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves of garlic
1 shot of Ouzo
zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions
lemon juice to taste
scant tsp. of Boukovo (chilli flakes)
- Place a large pot of water on your stove and bring to a boil, season well with salt and cook for 6-7 minutes for al dente. In the meantime, add some olive oil into a small pan and add the breadcrumbs, almonds and lightly toast while stirring. Add the Ouzo, Tarama, garlic and stir for another minute or until the Ouzo has been absorbed. Take off the heat, add the chopped fresh parsley, scallions, lemon zest, oregano and adjust seasoning (add more tarama, more bread crumbs, zest or herbs)
- Once your pasta has cooked, drain and place back in the pot with the olive oil, garlic, bread crumb mixture and Boukovo and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Adjust seasoning (add any of the ingredients you feel needs accent and divide and serve).
- Serve with a chilled bottle of Kechri’s “the pine’s tear” white, Assyrtiko grape with a hint of the resin…gorgeous white fit for seafood pasta.
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