It’s remarkable that in some cultures, some of the foods that were eaten in ancient times are still used in modern-day cookery. This despite the onslaught of fast food and convenience foods that any of us can purchase at a supermarket and take home to the family and serve for dinner.
There are folks out there who still like to prepare a home-cooked meal, even weekdays when a day’s work has left you mentally and physically exhausted. I have a roster of weekday meals that are prepared in less than a hour.
One such ingredient that is nourishing, comforting, easy and quick to prepare is trahana. This ancient Greek ingredient is made by boiling cracked wheat in either milk or yogurt, then drying it in the hot sun. It’s then crumbled and stored in pillow cases for future use.
One needs only add hot water to cook it, and add some hot stock or some milk into the mix.
Trahana is most commonly added to soups, kind of like how small star pasta or noodles are added. Trahana can also be made to a consistency of porridge and it can be served with crumbled feta cheese.
Here, I’m going for more of a risotto-type of consistency and I’ve paired it with one of my favourite food groups – mushrooms. I saute an array of mushrooms, many of which you can find at most supermarkets, and add some shallots, herbs, spices, wine and stock to complement the mushrooms, which are as close to meat as one can get without eating meat.
Finally, the trahana is made by adding a water and milk mixture to your stovetop. Simply simmer and stir until it is cooked through. The creamy trahana, slightly tart, is the perfect vehicle to carry savoury, meaty mushrooms that are scooped together with a dinner spoon. Add some Greek sheep’s milk cheese (Graviera) and you’ll be making this comforting dish on many a cold Autumn night.
Trahana With mushrooms
2 pints mixed mushrooms, sliced and/or torn in large pieces (cleaned of dirt)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper taste
1 cup sour trahana
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
shaved Graviera cheese
- Into a large skillet, add your olive oil over medium heat and add the mushrooms and brown for two to three minutes. Add the shallots and sweat for another three minutes, then add the tomato paste and stir in and cook for another minute.
- Add the wine, bay leaf, allspice and stock and bring up to simmer. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes (uncovered) until the sauce is thick. Adjust seasoning and add the fresh thyme and stir in. Remove the by leaf and keep warm.
- To cook the trahana, add the milk and water in a medium pot and bring up to boil. Add a pinch of salt and the trahana and stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring every couple of minutes. The trahana should be cooked until most of the liquid has been absorbed (about eight to 10 minutes). Add more liquid if required, keep stirring/adding liquid until cooked. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
- Divide and plate the trahana in shallow bowls then top with mushrooms and finish off with shavings of Graviera cheese.
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