A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed what Greeks seemed to know all along — eating a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts, olive oil, vegetables, fresh fruit, legumes, fish, poultry and red wine has proven health benefits, especially for those at risk for heart disease. Contrary to the popular belief that a low-fat diet was best for cardiovascular health, the results of the new Mediterranean diet study were so clearly evident that the researchers ended the trial early.
Better known as Sofia’s Fabulous Potatoes amongst friends, these roasted lemony potatoes are commonly served in Greek villages. At a recent dinner party, guests watched as Sofia peeled the potatoes and assembled the dish as she visited with everyone. Few were paying close attention to the actual prep as she added a bit of this and that — but as soon as we tasted them, eyes flew open!
One of secrets of this dish is to use real Greek oregano* — don’t settle for anything less. Go to the nearest Mediterranean store (or order online) and buy the real deal. Using Greek oregano makes all of the difference between a mundane and an extraordinary dish, as we all agreed!
3 pounds waxy potatoes, such as Golden Yukon or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh Greek oregano, if available, or finish with dusting of dried Greek Oregano
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place the potatoes in a single layer in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish and pour the oil over them. Add the garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat with the oil.
Bake the potatoes for 20minutes. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 20 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through. If you like, preheat the broiler and broil the potatoes for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Sprinkle with the fresh oregano (or a generous dusting dried Greek oregano and serve at once.
* Oregano is generally classified in two categories: Mediterranean and Mexican. Despite the shared name and similar flavors, these are two completely different species. Greek oregano, also known as wild marjoram, tends to be the most savory, earthy and aromatic of the Mediterranean oregano varieties. Greek oregano is also very easy to grow. Buy seeds here.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 medium leeks (about 1 1/2 pounds total), well rinsed, drained, and both white and light green parts chopped
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 medium potatoes (about 10 ounces), peeled and coarsely grated
3 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 cup grated kefalotyri (or Parmesan cheese)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
15 sheets phyllo dough*
Olive oil or melted butter, for oiling the filo
2-3 tablespoons milk, for brushing on top of pie
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until they are wilted but still bright green, 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
While the leeks are cooling, lightly beat the egg together with the 1 tablespoon milk.
In a large mixing bowl, combine grated potatoes, olives, cheese, dill, salt, and cayenne. Add the leeks and the egg mixture and stir until well combined.
Cut the filo sheets to the size of pan you are using. Oil and layer five phyllo sheets in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add half the onion mixture, spreading it out evenly. Oil and layer another five phyllo sheets over the filling. Spread the remaining onion mixture evenly over the phyllo. Oil and layer the remaining sheets of phyllo on top. Oil the top of the pie. Tuck the filo in around the edges, and score dough to make 12 pieces. Brush the top and around the edges with the milk.
Place the dish in the oven and bake until the top and the edges are deep golden brown and crisp, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Serve right away, or at room temperature.
Serve with a green salad and glass of wine.
Kali orexi! (Bon appetit!)
*Cut the phyllo sheets to the size you need before assembling the pie, remembering that dough shrinks a bit while baking.