Summer couscous salad

Summer is here and it is time to slow down. 

Dreamy summer holidays for me are all about relaxing, having lazy days, enjoying time with family and friends over long lunches that turn into dinner. Summer food includes the idea of simple cooking, and this recipe is not only simple but perfect for summer eating. 

Summer Couscous Salad

150 grams couscous
½ small watermelon
150 grams haloumi cheese, sliced
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 pomegranate, cut in half and deseeded
small bunch of mint


100 mls olive oil
50 mls white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

flaked almonds to garnish

Prepare the couscous by placing the couscous in a bowl and adding150 boiling water. Cover with a plate and leave for 5-6 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Pour in a teaspoon of olive oil and fork up. Transfer the couscous onto a serving plate.

Cut the haloumi in small squares and pat dry. In a frypan heat some olive oil and fry the haloumi until golden and set aside.

Cut the watermelon flesh into pieces and add to the couscous. Place the haloumi on top and add the mint and red onion. Scatter the seeds from the pomegranate onto the salad. 

Place the olive oil, vinegar, pomegranate syrup, honey and salt and pepper into a bowl or jug and whisk to combine.

Dress the salad with the dressing, scatter with flaked almonds and serve.

Bean, vegetable and chorizo soup

As Melbourne winter begins to nibble, I love the idea of stews and soups simmering away on the stove, sitting by the fire with a throw and a good book and of course sharing comforting meals with family and friends.

This bean, vegetable and chorizo soup is an old family favorite and one that my mother cooked almost weekly.  She would occasionally vary the vegetables she used depending on what she had on hand.  Chorizo was a must, as we all loved the sweet smoky heat that it stirs up.

Perfect with some fresh crusty bread, feta cheese and olives.

Bean, vegetable and chorizo soup

400 grams white beans (butter or cannellini)
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 zucchini, diced
2 celery stalk, chopped
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 x 400gram can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 chorizo, chopped into chunks

Soak the beans in cold water overnight.

In a large pot saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil or until soft.  Drain the beans and add to the pot and pour in about 2 litres of water. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and bay leaf and stir well.   Add the vegetables and bring to the boil.  Simmer for ½ hour and add the chorizo and paprika.  Continue cooking for a further ½ hour or until beans are cooked.

Season to taste and add the parsley.

Serve hot.

My Mediterranean Pantry

Autumn has well and truly arrived and the long, lazy, carefree summer days are over. For me, it is a time to reorganize and declutter my home and especially my kitchen.  I love clearing my cupboards and pantry and restocking them with all that I will need for the cooler days ahead. Reorganizing my cupboards and desk and making space for new things is comforting and invigorating at the same time.

My Pantry

Olive oil — everyday cooking olive oil and for salads


for paella—short grain rice. There is one called

‘bomba’ which is great but you can use short grain

rice if that is all you have

risotto rice, I like to use Carnaroli

medium grain rice for sweets and stuffings

basmati rice or long grain for pilaf


fresh and dry (fresh only keeps for a few days in

the refrigerator) spaghetti, penne, angel hair and

any other variety that you love



semolina, couscous, bulgar

Tomato passata, tomato paste and cans of diced


Flour – self raising, plain and OO

Greek yoghurt

Pulses – lentils, cannellini beans (both dried and in

cans), chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Vanilla extract

Vinegar – red wine, white wine and balsamic

Sea salt

Black peppercorns and a grinder

Sugar – organic, caster (superfine) and icing


Filo pastry


Cheese – feta, mozzarella, fresh ricotta, parmigiano


Eggs (organic)

Garlic, onions, lemons, potatoes

Dried herbs and spices – fennel seeds, saffron,

basil, bay leaves, cinnamon (ground and sticks),

cloves (ground and whole), nutmeg, oregano, sweet

paprika, rosemary, tarragon, sesame seeds

Mediterranean lifestyle

The Greek Mediterranean diet is not only about the food but also about the lifestyle.  The importance of this lifestyle is evident in the research into the longevity of the people of Ikaria, a Greek island in the Aegean.  This island has been known as “the island where people forget to die”. Similar studies have been made in Crete, which makes one question why the people of these islands live so long; what is the secret to a long life?

The people of Ikaria enjoy a Greek Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and fish, vegetable and bean dishes often being the main meal and not as a side, and salads being a part of every meal and fruit always following the main.

What I found most interesting was that the Mediterranean diet also includes a lifestyle and the importance of strong social connections…spending time with family and friends, as well as daily physical activity, which could be as simple as making walking part of your daily routine, and taking a nap in the afternoon or simply having some quiet time.

I notice this especially whenever spending time with family in Greece. I love the simplicity of life in the village, mealtimes not only being a time to eat, but to spend together, creating a strong bond between family and friends, young and old.

Eat Greek and live well.

Soups to nourish the soul

I have a great love for the rustic soups of Greece.  They are usually simply prepared with few good quality ingredients but always nourishing and flavoursome.

There are many varieties of soup in the Greek kitchen, ranging from hearty bean soups to my favourite, the soothing flavours of an avgolemono soup.

For me, a bowl of soup, is not only comforting, soothing and nourishing it is also a gesture of love.

Here is my recipe for Yiouverlakia soup…meatballs cooked in a broth and finished off with an egg and lemon sauce.

A perfect winter warmer to nourish the soul.

Yiouverlakia soup

500 grams minced beef
1 small onion, finely diced
1/3 cup medium grain rice
2 tablespons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon mint or dill, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
50 grams butter

egg and lemon sauce

In a large bowl, combine mince, onion, half the rice, herbs and seasonings.  Shape this mixture into small balls.

Pour 1 litre water into a large saucepan and add butter.  Bring to the boil.  Slowly add the meatballs into the boiling water, together with the remaining rice.  Simmer until cooked.

Make the egg and lemon sauce and add to the soup.

Season to taste, garnish with a sprig of parsley is you like and serve hot.

Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from the soup stock

Lightly beat the egg whites in a small bowl, add the yolks and beat a little more then add lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture, beating all the time.  Add a little more stock, continue mixing.

Pour the egg and lemon sauce into your soup or over your dish, stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.