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Recipes for 'Glorious Foods of Greece'

Diane Kochilas' new book, <i>Glorious Foods of Greece</i>
Diane Kochilas' new book, Glorious Foods of Greece

Diane Kochilas is an American who chose to experience Greece's culinary delights first hand. A native New Yorker, Kochilas moved to Greece in the early 1990s. Now, she shares her love and knowledge of Greek food in her new book, The Glorious Foods of Greece (William Morrow/Harper Collins Publisher).

In the Los Angeles studios of The Tavis Smiley Show, NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates and Kochilas discuss the basics of Greek cuisine, and some of Kochilas' favorite dishes. Recipes for two of them follow, reprinted with permission from The Glorious Foods of Greece.

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Capers and Onions

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Kochilas says roasted eggplant spreads and salads come in many variations throughout Greece and usually are embellished with local flavor. In the North, yogurt is often added to the eggplants, for example; throughout the Cyclades, it is the ubiquitous caper and tomato that season this delicious dish.

3 large eggplants, roasted

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt to taste

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

¼ cup small, preferably Greek capers, rinsed and drained

1 large firm, ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Wash and pat dry the eggplants. Roast them whole over an open flame on top of the stove or under the broiler, turning, until the skins are charred on all sides. (This may also be done on a grill.) Remove and let cool slightly.

2. Have a large bowl with the olive oil ready. Cut the eggplants open lengthwise and remove as many of the seeds as possible. Scoop out the roasted eggplant pulp and place it in a bowl with the olive oil. Salt lightly. With a fork and knife, cut the eggplant so that it is chunky. Add the onion, garlic, capers, tomato, and parsley and mix with a fork to combine well. Add the vinegar and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and vinegar if desired.

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Wine, Garlic, Allspice, and Cheese

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Kochilas says this is "a Sunday and festive specialty of the Peloponnesos." It is usually made in the spring with young lambs, not more than three or four months old.

One 3 to 4 pound leg of spring (baby) lamb, bone in, trimmed of fat

3 to 4 garlic cloves, to taste, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon ground allspice

¼ pound kefalotyri or any hard yellow cheese, coarsely grated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine, or more as needed

2 to 3 pounds small all-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and halved

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. With a sharp paring knife, make small incisions all over the surface of the lamb.

2. Grind the garlic and allspice together in a mortar or an electric spice mill, then combine in a bowl with the cheese. Press a pinchful of the mixture deep into each of the incisions until the spice-and-cheese mixture is used up and all the incisions are stuffed. Season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Heat ½ cup of the olive oil in a large, wide roasting pan (something big enough to fit the leg) over medium-high heat and sear the lamb until golden, turning frequently to brown all sides. Pour in the wine. As soon as it steams, remove the pan from the heat.

4. Place the potatoes around the lamb and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining ½ cup olive oil over the potatoes. Roast until the lamb is cooked to the desired doneness, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. If necessary, continue roasting the potatoes, adding water or wine to the pan to keep them from burning. Carve the lamb and serve.

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