We’re lucky here in New England to have many diners and small family restaurants owned and run by Greeks.
Originally, they served up purely all-American fare, but in recent decades, delicious Greek specialties have begun to appear on their menus. Greek cuisine relies heavily on garlic, lemon, tomatoes and herbs, so you’ll see these unbeatable ingredients crop up in both these recipes.
LAMB SOUVLAKI WITH YOGURT-CUCUMBER SAUCE
Souvlaki are now on the menus of most of the Greek-run family diners and small restaurants that dot the map of the region. This version is lemon- and oregano-marinated grilled lamb cubes served in or on large flat pita breads and garnished with a refreshing yogurt-cucumber sauce called tzatziki. They make a wonderful midweek family supper or can be the basis for a great company meal, especially in warm weather.
1 cup plain yogurt
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed between the fingers
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11/4 pounds well-trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut in 1-inch cubes
4 pita breads
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 small (or half a large) sweet onion such as Vidalia, chopped
For the sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumber, mint, garlic, lemon juice and salt. If not using soon, refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
For the souvlaki, in a medium-sized bowl, stir together lemon juice, oil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the lamb, turn to coat completely, and set aside at cool room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
Build a hot charcoal fire, preheat a gas grill or preheat the oven broiler. Thread lamb cubes onto metal skewers. Grill (or broil about 5 inches from the element) turning occasionally and brushing with any remaining marinade, until the meat is richly browned outside and pink within, about 5 minutes. Warm the pita breads on the side of the grill.
Serve lamb with the bread and pass sauce along with the tomato and onion for garnish.
ROASTED HALIBUT STEAKS WITH LEMON CHUNKS
Majestic halibut, some weighing upwards of 300 pounds, are fished out of the deep Atlantic, and although scarcity has driven the price up, halibut’s firm, meaty, pearly-white flesh is such delectable eating that it’s well worth splurging on. Roasting the halibut this way with tomato and chunks of whole lemon, Greek-style, makes for the kind of stylish, colorful, yet earthy presentation that is great for company dinners. Serve side dishes of orzo tossed with some feta cheese and oregano and a steamed seasonal vegetable such as asparagus. Buttery cookies or cake along with a bowl of fresh strawberries would complete the menu nicely.
2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1 cup chopped red or white onion
3/4 cup chopped seeded lemon, including the rind
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, plus sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional for sprinkling on fish
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for sprinkling on fish
6 halibut steaks or fillets, 11/2 to 2 inches thick, about 3 pounds
1 cup dry white wine
In a large bowl, toss together the tomato, onion, lemon, garlic, oregano, oil, salt and pepper. (Can be made a few hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange fish in a large, lightly oiled roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Spread tomato mixture over the steaks and pour the wine around the fish. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven until fish is no longer translucent when checked in its thickest part, and the vegetables are lightly caramelized, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
Transfer to a serving platter, pouring the pan juices and vegetables over the fish, and garnish with oregano sprigs before serving.
Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: