For our end-of-summer party this year, we let ourselves be inspired by the latest issue of Saveur and made food with a Greek or Mediterranean slant: dolmades, tzatziki, tabouli, grilled flank steak, lemon chicken, grilled eggplant dip, hummus, and so on. For a while we were considering pastitsio (sort of a Greek lasagna), but decided on a greens-filled phyllo pie instead. I thought this would be spanakopita, the classic buttery spinach-feta pie, but then I discovered hortopita.
Hortopita is like spanakopita, but better. It uses any sort of greens mixture (horta in Greek) plus scallions and fragrant herbs, and instead of butter you brush the phyllo with olive oil, making it much less rich. I ended up making this twice this week – the one I made for the party disappeared almost instantly, and since there was phyllo left over I figured I’d just make us another one.
After a trip to the farmer’s market our first morning home, we found ourselves in possession of some fine beet greens and a bag of shiitake mushrooms. I thought of one of our regular “light” meals, buckwheat soba stirfried with beet greens, and reinvented it as a cold noodle salad with baked tofu. It worked so well, I might even like it better than the hot version. And it’s a perfect dish for this ridiculously hot weather we’re having right now, especially if you do all the cooking early in the day.
In the morning, I boiled the soba and tossed it with some soy sauce and plenty of rice vinegar, then put the noodles in the fridge to chill. Jon sliced up a block of firm tofu and got it marinating in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil. Later in the day he spread the tofu out on a sheet and baked it at 300° for about an hour and a half, turning the pieces once, until it gained a leathery texture with a slightly crisp edge (one of the easiest and best ways to cook tofu, in my opinion). He also stirfried the mushrooms and greens with some ginger, then let everything chill.
Shortly before dinnertime, we combined the noodles and vegetables, added a bunch of chopped scallion, sprinkled the tofu on top, and dripped a little sambal oelek over it all. It was earthy and spicy, but still deeply refreshing, and just what we wanted. Leftovers kept well for several days.
This past month we’ve been trying something new – Bikram yoga. Two or three times a week we voluntarily put ourselves in a very hot room and twist ourselves into postures that leave us unbelievably sore, with a tendency to sleep ten hours a night (not that we generally get to). The drawback (for those of us obsessed with food) is that you can’t come home after nine hours of work and 90 minutes of hot yoga and expect to have time or digestive power for an exciting, complex or heavy dinner. Or alcohol. As a result, we’ve been expanding our repertoire of fried rices and other things that can be processed in the morning, then dumped in a hot wok and promptly inhaled alongside a pot of green tea. A few pounds have been lost, let me tell you. Continue reading