Fasolakia (Green Bean and potato stew)

OPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…

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Wow! after an almost month-long hiatus, I am finally back! You must be wondering where I have been? Well nowhere really! I was just busy growing a baby in my last month of pregnancy and now enjoying every moment with my beautiful son Samuel Kabir. I am sure now you will pardon me for leaving you wanting some lip smackingly delicious recipes.

I won’t blabber on with too much of a story because you never know when my sleeping dragon will awaken and demand to be fed. So without further ado check out today’s vegetarian recipe which is inspired by the beautiful mediterranean flavours and comes from Greece. I know right just when you thought the Greeks were all about lamb.

Around our travels in Greece I did struggle as a vegetarian but only until we got to the beautiful island of Crete. Here I discovered loads of simple, quick and lip smackingly delicious vegetarian dishes and Fasolakia is just one of them. A beautiful green bean stew cooked in a rich tomato sauce topped with loads of feta and olive oil. I have also added some potatoes to make it a bit hearty. Aaahhh!!! Gotta love that.

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Ingredients: 12     Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms green beans, ends trimmed
  • Four medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 400 gms of crushed tomatoes (I used canned)
  • One large brown onion, finely chopped
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One cup of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Quarter cup of fresh dill, chopped
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Salt to season
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Goats Cheese or Feta Cheese to garnish (optional)

In a heavy based pot heat three tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion, garlic and two tablespoons of chopped parsley and one tablespoon of chopped dill. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mixture is aromatic.

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Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until a layer of oil surfaces on the top. Now add the potatoes and cook until slightly tender. Then add the beans, followed by the remaining herbs, lemon juice, three to four tablespoons of olive oil, sugar and season with salt as required.

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Now add one cup of water and cover the pot. Let the potatoes and beans simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Remember the beans in this dish are meant to be soft and mushy so don’t fret if you happen to leave it longer that 20 minutes to simmer.

Fasolakia is ready to serve, garnish it with crumbled feta or goats cheese, drizzle some olive oil on top, add a wedge of lemon on the side and serve this lip smackingly delicious stew with some chargrilled sourdough bread. 

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Hellenic Republic – Brunswick, Melbourne

As George Colambaris would say…I LOVE IT!

My brother and sister in law were visiting from Adelaide and each time they are here in Melbourne we make sure we visit celebrity chef restaurants. On their recent visit to Melbourne we went to George Colambaris’s Hellenic Republic in Brunswick.

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Elies Assorted local olives, Cretan olive oil, rosemary, garlic
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Tyri Saganaki Kefalograviera cheese, peppered figs
Melitzanosalata Smoked eggplant dip, aleppo pepper, pinenuts
Melitzanosalata Smoked eggplant dip, aleppo pepper, pinenuts

The restaurant has a quintessential Melbournian vibe, serving authentic Greek food with a contemporary twist. There are plenty of meat and vegetarians options, but personally the seafood dishes were our favourite.

The food is reasonably priced and the serving size is pretty generous too, which is always a plus.

We ordered a range of mezze and salads, which were all delicious. The boys ordered an assortment of meat dishes of which the charcoal chicken was a clear favourite. My personal favourite of the night was tiger prawns with ouzo salt, just delicious! Soft juicy grilled prawn and the tangy ouzo salt gave it the perfect kick. 

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Garithes Chargrilled tiger prawns, ouzo spiced salt
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Kalamari Chargrilled calamari, garlic, herbs
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Loytianos Whole Baby Snapper, stuffed with herbs, grilled lemon

We finished the meal with some light but tasty dessert. Risogalo (rice pudding) was a clear winner of the dessert round! 

The wine list was exhaustive and had a lot of delicious wines from Greece and others from the Australian wine regions. Definitely a plus if you love to match your food with wine!

Horiatiki Salata Traditional village salad
Horiatiki Salata Traditional village salad
Horta Pan - fried wild greens, lemon, olive oil
Horta Salata Pan – fried wild greens, lemon, olive oil
Lahanosalata Cabbage salad, balsamic, honey, Kefalograviera cheese
Lahano Salata Cabbage salad, balsamic, honey, Kefalograviera cheese

The customer service was slightly lacking in its finery, but the delicious food made up for it. Perhaps George needs to make a visit to the floor and pass on his contagious enthusiasm and passion for food to his floor staff.

With everything said all in all a great food experience and LSD definitely recommends this restaurant to all.

Loukoumathes (Top Centre) Hellenic doughnuts, honey, cinnamon, walnuts Risogalo Rice pudding, salted caramel, almond shortbread crumble, pistachio
Loukoumathes (Top Centre) Hellenic doughnuts, honey, cinnamon, walnuts Risogalo (Right) Rice pudding, salted caramel, almond shortbread crumble, pistachio Sikalaki Gliko (Left) Candied Figs Spoon sweets Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (Bottom Center)

Overall rating – 8/10

Price – $$$