Toronto

Just Like Ma: Greeking Out in Hidden Valley with Yuli’s Granny’s Greek Salad Recipe

granny

My grandma was the type of cook to keep to the recipe, so any time we noticed she went off script we were there to be supportive. Offer up the yums and the belly rubs to show we really liked it, and that her biggest way of showing us love was appreciated. Really, this kind of thing was very important to her, if you burped after (or during) one of her meals, she’d take it as a “compliments to the chef.”

One of granny’s improvised recipes that was a favourite as a kid, but didn’t survive my matured adult palate, was her “Greek” Salad. Cucumber, tomato and olives, plus cheese were present. But the cheese was maybe not asiago or feta and the dressing would be, well, ranch dressing. It was like something from a cookbook with a spiral binding that came with a Reader’s Digest before you were born and not something you share with your more discerning friends. The thing is, it’s fresh, not too terrible for you and easy. So when I discovered that Hidden Valley (The Queen of Ranch Dressings) has a new Tzatziki dressing I knew instantly what I was going to use it for.

On the night I was planned to make my adult and updated version of my granny’s Greek Salad I might have been a little over ambitious. Confession: I don’t cook a lot these days. My partner, having paid his dues in several Toronto restaurants and delis, is a brut in the kitchen and hardly ever lets me set a toe in when he’s cooking. Which this busy girl is fine with, he even takes care of the groceries and market days.

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This night I wanted to crack the spine on Yotam Ottolenghi’s compendium on the humble vegetable, Plenty, and make a dish I’ve had mixed success with in the past. I wanted to make the goat cheese ravioli. When I made ravioli for the first time I was trying to recreate a butternut squash, cranberry, pine nut, and candied sage dish I’d had once at a steakhouse back home in Calgary.

book

I made it for a party where a friend of a friend was celebrating the final payment of her student loan. I wanted to match that kind of adulthood and make a dish to impress. I didn’t have a rolling pin. I don’t know what I was thinking. To safe myself embarrassment I’ll keep it brief and say I ended up using a wine bottle as a rolling pin (I’d seen this successfully done on TV once) and the pasta was so thick it was the height of my culinary blunders, is to this day. (For my birthday the next year this friend of a friend bought me a nice French style rolling pin, because she’s super thoughtful and an adult.)

Point being, I had my hands full with this ravioli and wanted to make something beyond simple to go with it. My granny’s Greek Salad is as simple as it gets. I’m going to share it with you here. Later we’ll get to my experience with the ravioli, and an adaptation to Hidden Valley’s dry package tzatziki dip mix that was a genius stroke on my part.

 

yulischeidt-greekingout-salad

Yuli’s Granny’s “Greek” Salad Recipe:

Ingredients:

Cucumber

Tomato

Your choice of pitted olives

Red onion if you like

Cheese, I suggest crumbled feta the kind that comes in brine, or a good asiago you can grate over top

Drizzle of Olive Oil and Balsamic (optional)

Hidden Valley Tzatziki Dressing

yulischeidt-greekingout-hidden valley tzatziki

How to:

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Slice cucumber into chunks as pictured. You can slice beef steak (or as they call them here in Ontario, hot house) tomatoes into chunks too, but I got a fancy tri-colour pack of grape tomatoes for this night. Cut the tomatoes lengthwise.

yulischeidt-greekingout-olives

Put in your olives and onions if you want them (I used to love thick pieces of onions in this salad when I was a kid, but I might not like them anymore?). You can drizzle with EVOO and balsamic vinegar if you like, I am pro vinegar on everything. And then the thing that makes it all come together, the dressing. Pick up some Hidden Valley Tzatziki and put as little or as much as you like and give it all a toss.

salad

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yulischeidt-greekingout-dip

So simple right? Yotam Ottolenghi’s ravioli wasn’t that much more difficult. I’ll show you, but first I’ll let you in on my genius addition to Hidden Valley’s Tzatziki dip mix. The ravioli filling is some unripened goat’s cheese, lemon zest and juice, and a bunch of tarragon. I had a lot of this filling left over and wasn’t sure what to do with it. We could have eaten it with crackers I guess, but I added it to the tzatziki dip mixed and a few days later when I cracked open Plenty again to make eggplant croquettes, I used it as sauce for those. Some of the best dip I have ever had, maybe even surpassing a good artichoke and asiago dip. I even ended up putting it on the ravioli too because I’m a sauce kind of girl on this recipe doesn’t call for any

yulischeidt-greekingout-prep

 

Now, this ravioli business. I saw semolina in the ingredients list and “00” pasta flour and was about ready to toss up my hands in defeat. Little did I know this recipe calls for a pasta machine. Like, if someone had to gift me a rolling pin, do you think I have a pasta machine? Anyhow, friendly reminder to maybe read the whole recipe before you sink too much time and money into it. It worked out okay though, I think it was the leaving the pasta in the fridge overnight that helped me out here.

egg

For the pasta dough:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium eggs

11 1/2 ounces (about 2 3/4 cups) “00” pasta flour, plus extra for rolling

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

Grated zest of 3 lemons

Semolina

 

For the filling:

11 ounces soft goat cheese

1/3 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

Pinch of chile flakes

Black pepper

1 egg white, beaten

 

To finish:

2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, finely crushed

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Grapeseed oil

Lemon juice (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

To make the pasta dough. Whisk together the oil and eggs. Put the flour, turmeric and lemon zest in a food processor, add the oil and egg mixture and blend to a crumbly dough. It might require extra flour or oil. Once the dough has come together and is smooth (you may need to work it a little by hand), divide it into four thick, rectangular blocks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

yulischeidt-greekingout-eggs

If you value your sanity, remember that if a recipe calls for a mixer for food processor, DO NOT just assume you can mix it in a blender. You’ll end up not liking your life so much. If you do this, like I did, you’ll have to eventually wrangle all the dough out of that small cavity. It’s a long process and waste of your valuable time, so just don’t. Mix it by hand if you have to.

 

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These can chill in the friend for up to 2 days.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Take one piece of dough and flatten it on the floured surface with a rolling pin. Set your pasta machine to the widest setting and pass the dough through. Repeat, narrowing the setting by a notch each time, until you get to the lowest setting. When each sheet is rolled, keep it under a moist towel so it doesn’t dry out.

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yulischeidt-greekingout-ravioli-rounds

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Take one piece of dough and flatten it on the floured surface with a rolling pin. Here’s where the book tells you to put it trhough that pasta machine you have laying around. Ha! Get ready to roll. You should probably make them thinner than I did here, and also remember that like with most dough the more you fuss with it the harder it gets. You can use a cutter or the rim of a glass to make these discs.

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To make the filling. Combine the filling ingredients, apart from the egg white, in a bowl and crush together with a fork.

 

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Seal the sides of the edges together firmly until you can’t see a seam where the two discs meet. As they are made, place the ravioli on a dish towel or tray sprinkled with semolina. Leave to dry for 10 to 15 minutes. (You can now cover the tray with plastic wrap and keep the ravioli in the fridge for a day.)

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When ready to cook, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 2 to 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and divide among four plates. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns, tarragon and lemon zest. Drizzle grapeseed oil over the ravioli and around them, sprinkle with extra salt and a squirt of lemon juice. As mentioned I added the lemon, tarragon, goat cheese, greek yoghurt, cucumber, tzatziki concoction because I need all the flavours.  DONE.

yulischeidt-greekingout-pasta-done

 

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