Why Not Switch Things Up? Favorite Recipes from Greece and Morocco

Feb 16, 2022 | 0 comments

We have now entered the second month of 2022, so there is no excuse but to start working on those New Year’s resolutions you set for yourself not too long ago! Whether that is working out more, becoming more introspective or increasing productivity, for a lot of us at least one resolution revolves around cooking and food.

Healthy eating is undeniably a lifestyle, and like any other life-long practice, it can be a process of trial, error, disappointment, and success.

While not necessarily a New Year’s resolution, healthy eating has been a constant goal I have been striving to reach in the past few years, especially as I want it to compliment my weightlifting lifestyle. For the most part, it has been a great journey, full of tasty insights and self-discovery. Of course, there have been some bumps along the way, and I am sure I will have to deal with more in the future; however, I have found ways to increase my motivation when everything else is low. This is something I would like to share with you today. A simple, yet effective tip:

Get out of your comfort zone and try a completely new recipe!

Habits are a part of human nature, and sometimes we can create cooking routines that involve similar tastes. Why not switch it up and give yourself something different to get excited about?

Coming from a Greek and Moroccan background, my friends and family get to taste the best of both worlds when I am in the kitchen. After reading this blog, you can leave your loved ones speechless, too!

The first recipe is called Pastitsio (pronounced pa-sti-tsi-o), and it is a Greek version of the infamous lasagna, with four layers of meat, pasta and bechamel sauce.

The second recipe is called Kefta Mkaouara, a delicious Moroccan tagine made of a rich tomato sauce, meatballs, and eggs. Both recipes are large portions rather than an individual one, so don’t forget to share…I know it can be tempting to keep it all for yourself!


Pastitsio

Ingredients

For the pasta:

500 g Penne

For the meat sauce:

500 g minced beef

390 g tomato passata

1 medium onion

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp black pepper

A pinch of allspice powder

1 clove bud

1 tsp sugar

1 large bay leaf


For the bechamel:

100 g butter

100 g all-purpose flour

1 litre milk

Salt

Pepper

Feta cheese to crumble

Grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  • Cook your pasta in boiling water and salt, following the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized pot placed on medium heat, add some olive oil – enough to cover the base – and once warmed up, add the diced onion. Stir and leave to sauté for 3 minutes, letting it release its aroma.
  • Once golden coloured, add the minced meat and 2 tbsp of water in the pan. With a fork, break apart the meat, ensuring that there are not any large pieces left. Stir with the onions until the meat is completely brown.
  • Add all the seasoning and passata, stir and cover. Let it simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Set aside once cooked.
  • For the bechamel, place a medium pan on medium heat and add the butter. Let it melt.
  • Add the flour and mix until absorbed by the butter and a thick mixture has been formed.
  • Add the milk in doses and mix well until the sauce starts to boil.
  • Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.
  • In a large baking pan, layer the base with half of the pasta. The second layer will be the meat sauce, and the third the rest of the pasta.
  • Before adding the bechamel as the fourth layer, take some feta in your hand and crumble it with your fingers across the third layer of pasta for an extra tangy taste.
  • Layer with the bechamel sauce and top it with some grated parmesan.
  • Preheat the oven at 200 C (400 F) on the upper heat element, and once preheated add the pastitsio.
  • Cook until the top is golden brown and your pastitsio is ready!

Kefta Mkaouara

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

500 g minced lamb

1 medium onion

1 green pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 chili pepper


For the tomato sauce:

690 g tomato passata

1 medium onion

Olive oil

3 tsp parsley

3 tsp cilantro

3 to 5 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup water

4 eggs

Instructions:

  • Dice the green pepper into small cubes.
  • In a large bowl mix the minced lamb with the green pepper and the rest of the ingredients.
  • Using your hands, shape the mixture into small meatballs and set aside on a plate
  • In a large pot, heat up some olive oil.
  • Chop the onions and place in the pot, leaving them to sauté for 3 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Dice the garlic into fine slices and stir them with the onion for an extra minute.
  • Pour the passata in the pot and add the rest of the herbs and seasoning.
  • Mix well, cover and let it simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs in the tomato sauce, along with ¼ cup of water.
  • Cover and continue cooking for an extra 40 minutes or as long as it takes for the sauce to thicken.
  • Finally, add the eggs without breaking the yolk.
  • Cover and let it cook for 10 more minutes.
  • Your kefta mkaouara is ready!

Share these recipes with your loved ones and let this be your motivation to start or continue your healthier eating habits this year.

Enjoy and don’t forget to check out the benefits of cooking as the ultimate stress relieving practice!

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Nina Lelidou

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