Greek Creamed Spinach

 Greek Creamed Spinach

A lush and rich recipe for Greek-style Creamed Spinach made with fresh baby spinach, bechamel sauce, shallots, scallions and dill. The bechamel is flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. And then there’s the dill…For that reason, during a brief span of about two seconds, I doubted the recipe. Dill and cinnamon is an unusual combination. But it works…here. It takes an ordinary dish and makes it extraordinary.

This recipe comes from a cookbook by Michael Psilakis. You may know him from Food Network where he is a judge for the special series Recipe Showdown. The title of his cookbook is How to Roast a Lamb and focuses on new Greek classic cooking; modern Greek cooking for the home cook. The book is gorgeous with beautiful, rustic food photography, pictures of Michael, and heart-warming stories about Michael’s life, family and passion for food. I have bookmarked a number of recipes to make: Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Soup, Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon Potatoes, Dried Fruit Salad with Thyme-Honey Vinaigrette, Whole Chicken Soup with Avgolemeno and Orzo, Pasta with Kima, and Feta Macaronia for Lamb Pastitsio. So many cookbooks, so little time!

This a creamy, delicious classic that your family will love. You can serve it alongside steak like Psilakis does or with anything your little heart desires!

Chopped Baby Spinach Leaves

Greek Creamed Spinach
(adapted from Michael Psilakis How to Roast a Lamb pg. 66)

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Shallots, finely chopped
4 scallions, chopped
8 ounces Baby Spinach leaves, rough chopped
Sea or Kosher salt and fresh Black Pepper
1 + 1/2 cup of Bechamel (recipe to follow)
3 tablespoons Dill, rough chopped

1. To a large skillet add the olive oil, over medium heat saute shallots and scallions about 3 or 4 minutes or until softened.

2. Add spinach, cover pan for 1 minute, then toss for a few minutes until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir in bechamel sauce and dill. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Bechamel Sauce
(Makes about 1 quart)

2 + 1/2 ounces unsalted Butter
5 ounces all-purpose Flour
3 + 1/4 cups whole Milk, warm
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
pinch of Nutmeg
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sea or Kosher salt
Fresh Black Pepper

1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add flour and whisk for about 5 minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor. Don’t let it brown, remove from heat if needed if pan gets too hot.

2. While whisking slowly add milk a little at a time. Simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, add cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Store extra bechamel in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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Greek Creamed Spinach

I’m sending this to my multi-talented friend Joanne of Eats Well With Others for her Regional Recipes: Greece round-up!

And also to my Side Dish Showdown!

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Baked Lemon Oregano Orzo and Shrimp

Baked Lemon-Oregano Orzo & Shrimp

This Mediterranean-flavored casserole has been brewing and bubbling in my head for months now. I kept pushing it to the back burner, until finally, with a ton of leftover Orzo sitting in the fridge, I saw the perfect opportunity to make it. Even though I didn’t have a well-planned out recipe, a quick inventory of what I had on hand didn’t disappoint. My counter top was quickly cluttered with a jar of Spanish olives, crumbled Feta, sun-dried tomatoes, lemons, frozen shrimp, onions, and garlic.

This is a fairly simple recipe, most of the work comes from cooking the shrimp and orzo beforehand, and cutting up the rest of the ingredients. Already cooked, frozen shrimp will lighten the load a little, just be sure to thaw them out first. Everything is tossed together and poured into a baking dish where a sunshine of a sauce is poured over top made with Olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, and zest. Seasoned bread crumbs and shredded Parmesan are sprinkled over top to give it a golden crust.
The result? Intensely-flavored, bright, and so delicious! I loved the different flavors dotted throughout; the soft, creamy crumbles of Feta; the briny olives; succulent shrimp; and the sharp, sun-dried hunks of tomato all nestled in between billowy, plumb mounds of orzo. If you love these Mediterranean flavors the way I do than this is just the dish for you!

Baked Lemon-Oregano Orzo & Shrimp

Baked Lemon Oregano Orzo & Shrimp
(by Reeni)(Serves 3-4)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup Olive Oil plus extra for sauteing
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sea Salt and fresh Pepper
3-4 cups cooked Orzo pasta
1 pound medium Shrimp, cooked, tails off
1/3 cup Spanish Olives, cut in half
1/3 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, rough chopped
1 cup crumbled Feta Cheese (4 ounces)
2 lemons, the zest of one, the juice of two
1 teaspoon Oregano, dried
2 tablespoons Bread Crumbs
2-3 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon Butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Saute the onion in a tablespoon or two of Olive oil in a medium size skillet over medium-low heat until soft and tender. Make a paste out of the minced garlic. Sprinkle with sea salt and on a cutting board drag the flat side of a large knife over it until a paste forms. Add it to the onion, stir and allow it to melt into the onion. Set aside.
To a large bowl add the Orzo, Shrimp, Olives, Tomatoes, Onion mixture, and Feta. Mix carefully. Spray an 8×8 deep-dish casserole pan with baking spray. Add the Orzo mixture to the pan in an even layer.
In a medium bowl add a 1/2 cup Olive oil, the zest of one lemon, the juice* of two lemons, 1/2 teaspoon Sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, whisk well and pour evenly over the Orzo mixture.
Sprinkle the Bread Crumbs and Parmesan Cheese evenly over the top. Dice the pat of butter and dot over top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
*To get the most juice out of the lemons, microwave for 15 seconds and roll against the counter top before juicing.

Baked Lemon-Oregano Orzo & Shrimp

Chicken Souvlaki with Greek Salad and Tzatziki

Greek Souvlaki Platter

This is a recreation of my parents favorite Greek diner meal. It is the Chicken Souvlaki platter that is made up of tender, marinated chicken pieces nesteled inside soft, warm pita bread with a salad on the side. The salad is loaded with Feta cheese, red onion, tomato, cucumber and Kalamata olives. But what really makes is special according to them, is the house made dressing. My contribution to the dish is tzatziki, a sauce made with cucumber, dill, lemon and yogurt.

This is a meal of many sauces between the chicken marinade, the tzatziki and the dressing. I was a kitchen witch whipping up potions. My parents loved it and said it tasted just like the diners. Score one for me!

Greek Souvlaki Platter

Chicken Souvlaki ‘Platter’
(by Reeni)

1-2 pounds chicken breast
1/3 cup Olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Oregano
2 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Metal or wooden skewers
Pita or flatbread

Pound the chicken with a mallet to tenderize and give them an even thickness. Trim away visible fat and tendons. Cut the chicken into strips crosswise about an inch wide. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together. Marinate in a large Ziploc bag or bowl in the refrigerator a couple of hours before cooking or the morning of. If using wooden skewers soak in water for a half hour or so before grilling. Skewer each piece twice lengthwise. Grill on all sides until cooked through. Serve on warm pita with tzatziki sauce and Greek dressing.

Greek Souvlaki Platter

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced small
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 tablespoon fresh dill
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Drain your Greek yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel for a few hours before or overnight. Combine all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

Greek Souvlaki Platter

Greek Salad

1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Romaine and mixed lettuce
Red onion
Olives, like Kalamata (or green or black if you don’t like them)
Crumbled Feta

In a food processor emulsify the first five ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the minced garlic. Serve over a salad with Romaine, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, sliced red onion, Kalamata olives (or black or green), and crumbled feta. Also good drizzled over the chicken.

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Greek Souvlaki Platter

Greek Salad on FoodistaGreek Salad