Chef Kokkas' veggie spelt orzo & feta mousse

Agrozimi spelt orzo, all-natural artisanal Greek pasta kritharaki

I'm really missing discovering new Greek restaurants, especially those that blend contemporary flavors and tecniques with traditional products, giving a creative twist to a classic cuisine. But even if I can't get to Greece right now, Greece is still coming to me! A couple of months ago, Santorini restaurant Kokkalo shared a gorgeous picture of a yummy veggie dish, and I thought I'd try it for our meat-free Monday, using Agrozimi's spelt orzo.

The result was delicious (although my picture wasn't nearly as impressive as the restaurant's, so I'll stick with the original!). For all of you who've planted summer vegetable gardens these past weeks, this is going to be an amazing dish with the fruits of your labor....but give it a try now, especially if you're running out of dinner ideas Skip the feta mousse garnish and you have a delicious vegan dish, too...definitely one to bookmark!

Kokkalo restaurant is run by Chef Kleanthis Kokkas, who serves up gourmet food on the road from Fira to Firostefani. I was so glad to see vegan, veggie and gluten-free options on their menu...but I guess we'll have to wait to try them in person. Until then, enjoy bringing a touch of Santorini to your own table!

Ingredients


For the feta mousse

3/4 cup feta cheese

4 tsps whole Greek yogurt 

2.5 tsps of turmeric

For the orzo

1 pack Agrozimi spelt orzo-kritharaki 

1 dried onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 lbs ripe tomatoes, chopped in a blender

1 tsp sugar

salt & pepper

1-2 red, yellow and/or orange peppers, diced

4 large white mushrooms, sliced 

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

100ml vegetable broth 

50ml extra virgin olive oil 

15 leaves of basil 

4-5 leaves of mint 

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 tbsp butter 

Preparation

To prepare the feta mousse, grate the feta cheese and mix with the yogurt to form a thick paste. Roll teaspoonfuls into balls or place the mixture in a pastry bag and pipe out little logs. Coat the balls or logs with turmeric and refrigerate while you prepare the orzo. 

In a pot of rolling boiling water, add salt and the orzo. After 5 minutes, strain and cool immediately with cold water so that it stays "al dente". Drizzle some olive oil and mix (the olive oil will keep the orzo from sticking) and put it aside.

Sauté in a saucepan half the chopped onion with the olive oil and garlic, until it's translucent.  Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the chopped basil and stir well.

Sauté in a large pan (that can hold all the orzo) the rest of the onion, the peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. When the vegetables are tender, add the tomato sauce and orzo, and if needed, top it off with enough vegetable broth or water to just cover the pasta.  Let the mixture simmer.

When the liquids are absorbed, remove the pan from the stovetop and add the butter and parmesan, stirring to coat the orzo until it glistens. Then stir in the chopped mint and serve on a plate. Top with your feta mousse balls or logs and enjoy piping hot!



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