To understand where this dish comes from is to first get a hang of what Strapetsada is: basically a scrambled egg dish containing grated tomatoes, olive oil and crumbled Feta and often eaten as a meze or late evening Greek dinner. There are may variances to this dish but those are the basics. Like with any cuisine there are also regional versions of dishes applied to the standards and strapetsada is not immune to this.
My parents come from the region of Florina (northwest of Thessaloniki) in northern Greece and proudly part of Greece’s province of Macedonia. The red “shepherd’s peppers” are enjoyed/eaten by the denizens of this region and they are called “Piperies Florinis” or Florina Peppers throughout Greece. For as long as I can recall, peppers have been at our family table from pickled peppers to stuffed peppers, fried peppers in the winter and charred peppers on the open flame that are peeled and simply dressed with olive oil and sea salt. Piperies Florinis (Florina Peppers) also have the distinction of being an appellation product (DOP) where only red peppers from Florina may be called as such.
One uncle would even bring small chilli peppers with him to weddings: he’d snip some into whatever dish was being served. The folks from Florina love their peppers and if you choose to visit this beautiful region in the summer, you’ll see stringed red peppers hanging outside of homes, air-drying to be preserved for cooking in the cold winter months.
The love of peppers extends to egg dishes like the nationwide popular Strapetsada with sweet and hot peppers being added into the mix. Much like the usual strapetsada, ripe, sweet tomatoes are grated into a skillet and simmer with olive oil until reduced but peppers are first fried and softened then the tomato gets added here along with onions. Once the vegetables have cooked down and the sauce has thickened the crumbled Feta is added and finally the eggs. Most scramble the eggs but here I chose to gently poach two eggs (matia) into the sauce making for a gorgeous presentation and the taste of oozing egg yolk with the peppered tomato size and tart Feta makes for some wonderful flavour contrasts in the mouth.
The finishing touch to this dish is my addition of a kebapi(a) which is what the rest of Greece would call a Soutzoukaki(a). Visitors to Florina will see lots of grill houses offering roasted peppers and an array of grilled meat, including kebapia. This sausage-shaped meat rissoles share same name given to these in the rest of the Balkans with the name having more to do with Ottoman 400 year rule than a Slavic influence. Kebab refers to meat that is cooked on or near open flame.
The Turks can thank the Persians for kebabs and it’s important to note the differences in cooking kebabs: in Turkey and the middle east the meat (often lamb) will be shaped by hand onto to flat skewers and suspended over hot coals and cooked to perfection without the meat ever falling off! In Greece and throughout the Balkans, the Kepapia are grilled directly on hot grate – offering more flavour by way of searing.
My take on Floriniotiki Strapetsada is a hearty meal or great as a meze offering and definitely mopping-up material for good, crusty bread – “μακα-μακα” for those from this region of Greece.
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2-3 hot banana peppers, diced or sliced
6-8 ripe plum tomatoes, passed through a box grater
approx. 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
dried Greek oregano
- Using one large skillet or two smaller ones, add some olive oil over medium heat and add your hot peppers and lightly saute until just softened and remove and reserve. Now add the remaining oil, the onions, sweet peppers and sweat for 5-6 minutes or until softened then add the grated tomatoes and reserved fried hot peppers, season with salt and pepper and bring up to a simmer (medium) and cook-down for another 5-6 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the water has cooked away.
- In the meantime, you may fry-off your kebab (I use this master recipe for my kebapia) in a little oil and reserve/keep warm. Add the crumbled Feta into the pan (s) then drop the eggs, place the kebap in the center and reduce the heat to medium-low. Season the eggs with salt and cover the pan to gently poach and steam the eggs until the whites are just cooked (you want the yolks to still be runny).
- Sprinkle some dried Greek oregano and serve the Floriniotiki Strapatsada directly from the skillets to the table with good crusty bread with Tsipouro(with anise) or a local Amynteon Xinomavro like the Alpha Estate Rose.
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