My new project — Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook — gives you the updated Greek recipes you’ve been searching for.
There are so many things I want to talk about in the context of my new book — Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook — that I don’t know where to start. I can’t believe it’s finally here, and I get to see my recipes teamed with those from my writing partner, Theo Stephan. I guess I’ll start there. I’ve been reading Greek cookbooks all my life and ones like The Olive and the Caper, Vefa’s Kitchen, and Yes You Can Cook Greek (written by my mother-in-law, Georgia Lyras) heavily influenced my point of view on traditional Greek cooking. But Greek cooking has evolved in Greece and around the world, and there’s so much more to it than traditional souvlakia, tomato-cucumber salads, and moussaka. It was exciting to have the opportunity to freshen up some recipes, and add to the cannon with our own unique Greek dishes.
While you will find a handful of traditional recipes in the book (let’s face it, it’s always good to have a tried-and-true pastitso recipe on hand), the majority of them take common dishes, techniques and ingredients of Greek cooking and build on them in easy, healthy, and modern ways. Some of my personal favorites are Baked Zucchini Patties, Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Pasta, Braised Pork Shoulder with Plums and Figs, and my addictive take on Kotopoulo Kapama (braised chicken with a spiced tomato sauce). A few other additions are my signatures that are already on this site like my award-winning Spanakopita, Greek Gazpacho, and Shrimp Santorini (albeit photographed much better). I can’t imagine cooking for my family and my clients without them.
One thing to note: Even though “healthy” is in the title, this isn’t a diet cookbook! What makes Greek people healthy and Greek recipes a road map for a healthy diet in general is moderation. Yes, we still include recipes with taboo things like CARBS! and RED MEAT!, because the true secret to living the good life is in enjoying EVERYTHING, but doing so according to the Golden Mean. So please enjoy all the recipes — just don’t eat pastitso every day.
Theo and I both grew up in Dayton, Ohio, but are decidedly Californian now. We both appreciate the bounty of fresh produce always available at farmers markets and growing in our own gardens. The abundance of fresh ingredients, climate, and ocean bring us as close to Greece as we can get on the West Coast. Theo also takes it to the next level with her olive groves in the Santa Ynez Valley. She was the first to bring olive trees from Crete to this region, and her olive oils, array of vinegar, and useful spice blends that she sells at Global Gardens are always a fixture in my cooking.
I hope we can give you a taste tour of Greece through our recipes in this book, along with key tools like must-have Greek ingredients and common flavor combinations, so you can riff on these recipes for yourself. There’s nothing more empowering that reading and playing with a recipe to make it your own.
Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook: Modern Mediterranean Recipes for Living the Good Life is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It’ll be out November 21. Please enjoy it and let me know what your favorite recipes are and how the dishes in the book inspire you!