Monday, May 6, 2013
Vegetarian Greek Easter Soup (Magiritsa),
with Spinach, Artichoke and Mushroom
I had huge cooking plans for the weekend just passed, but a persistent cold has kept me out of the kitchen and under the covers of my big purple blanket. That's when I'm not keeling over in the midst of one of my gut-wretching, organ-uprooting coughing fits.
Yesterday was Greek Easter Sunday, a day for feasting and celebration. Our family is not overly traditional, but there is one cousin of my dad's that likes to celebrate Greek Easter every year with a bang.
Foto is an incredible cook and she will spend all of Friday night and all day Saturday (that's right, no sleep) preparing a ridiculously enormous amount of food to be launched upon by hungry family members at the stroke of midnight on Saturday night. Each year we are invited to celebrate Greek Easter with Foto and her extended family, but this year Foto gets a well-deserved break as she is spending Greek Easter with her daughter in Sydney.
So I thought that a scaled-down Greek Easter feast just for Tony and I would make for a lovely weekend in the kitchen and a beautiful Sunday of eating some lovely food together. But at midnight on Saturday night while Greek people around the world were celebrating the end of the Great 40-day Lent, I was hunched over a pot of steam with a towel over my head wondering how I was ever going to stop the incessant cough that has been depriving me of sleep since last Monday.
As some of you may know, I was planning on making a Cheese and Leek Pie this weekend along with my first attempt at making home-made filo pastry. I was also hoping to make a big pot of vegetarian Magirista, a Greek Easter soup that is usually the first meal to be enjoyed after the Lenten fasting period. Ambitiously, I thought I could also try my hand at Tsoureki, the beautiful fluffy brioche-style Greek Easter bread. Go and take a look at the beautiful Tsoureki that Peter from Souvlaki for the Soul made over the weekend and you will see what I'm talking about.
I'd never made Tsoureki before (and as you now know, I still haven't) but it's one of my favourite breads, especially toasted and then laden with gorgeous melting knobs of butter. This sort of indulgence can only be pulled off on days like Greek Easter Sunday... And alas, now my chance has passed.
I whinge so much when I'm sick. I get grumpy and emotional and I really don't feel like doing anything but sitting around sulking. It's a terrible attitude, I know, and my partner Tony responds really badly to it (pretty much just ignores me when I'm being like this), but I find it so hard to be positive and motivate myself when I'm feeling like a car being crushed into a shoebox-sized metal block.
So there was no Greek Easter celebration to be had for us this weekend. I think I ate scrambled eggs last night for dinner. Yeah, what a feast that was.
Then today I was forced out of my self-pitying hole by some unexpected freelance work that I couldn't avoid. I really wasn't in any condition to be working in front of the computer today but some how the endorphins kicked in again and when I finished my work I quickly transported myself to the kitchen to make the most of my sudden burst of energy.
Vegetarian Magirista was going to be the easiest and quickest dish to make in the short time that was left of my definitely temporary energetic state. Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb offal, head and neck. Now you know I love Greek food, but these kinds of ingredients need to be way, way off my radar at all times. Even if I wasn't a vegetarian I'm sure these rules would still apply to me. I can't even begin to imagine what these things look like and I certainly don't want to start now when I'm in the middle of my own offal-ejecting state of affairs.
But back to the vegetarian version of this dish. I was so excited when I found the blog Authentic Greek Recipes earlier this year. Tony (aka Symposio) writes the blog and his wife Maria is the talented cook.
This lovely couple live on the island of Corfu and their recipes are a great source of inspiration to me. One such recipe is for Vegetarian Magiritsa which is what I cooked for dinner tonight. It's a beautiful creamy, spinach soup loaded with fresh herbs, vegetables and lots of goodness – the perfect elixir to sooth my pitiful soul. I won't be posting the recipe here because I made it to the letter from Maria's recipe and she deserves all the credit for it. Click on any of the links in this paragraph to go to the recipe on the Authentic Greek Recipes blog.
I know I'm a day late, but Kali Anastasi everyone! If you celebrate Greek Easter I'd love to hear how your shindig went down!