Olivia and I returned from our trip to my parents over the weekend. As expected, Olivia was a trooper again. In the airport and on the plane she made everyone around her smile. She is a super-independent baby and hasn’t fallen asleep in my arms for months. So there were a few minutes of complaining when it was nap time and she seemingly couldn’t get comfortable. But it really didn’t take long and then she slept throughout the remainder of the flight.
Back at home we are trying to get back into our regular routine (as if that ever really existed) and to re-adjust to being just the 2 of us for most of the day. I have to say, having had my family around to look after her was a great treat.
I tell you what else was a great treat. Not having to cook for a whole week. Don’t get me wrong! I love food and cooking, and I helped my mom prepare many meals there. But when cooking and recipe development kind of is your job (although the best I could ever imagine), it feels great to get a break sometimes.
And even if I am not cooking, I still love to read about food. My current favorite night time lecture is IKARIA. It is a cookbook but also so much more. The subtitle reads: Lessons on Food, Life and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die!
You might remember the article in the NY Times magazine a few years back that examined the many factors why people live so long on this small Greek island by the name of Ikaria. There are many contributors but one of them definitely is the food. This is right where Diane Kochilas picked it up and created a vibrant cookbook full of delicious recipes from Ikaria.
A number of recipes are known around the entire Greek archipelago with only an Ikarian spin to them, while others are truly native to Ikaria. Aside from the great recipes there also is stunning photography in this book. Not only of the delicious food, but also the island and its people.
I also really enjoyed the storytelling that gives further insight to the Ikarian lifestyle, traditions and possible reasons why people seem to live here happily ever after. Reading IKARIA, the restless traveler’s soul in me wanted to pack my bags and go experience the island, its people and food for myself. Until that might happen, I can create my own Ikarian kitchen at home with this cookbook.
There are ingredients used in the recipes that might not be easy to get by. I suppose this is to be expected with authentic recipes. However, for the most part there are suggestions for alternatives that are more accessible in North America.
In a sense, all the recipes can be considered ‘healthy’ in a way. Only real and whole food ingredients are used. The Ikarian cuisine is mainly plant-based with a focus on vegetables and greens with meat only as occasional highlight.
If you would like to create your own Ikarian kitchen at home, enter the widget below for a change to win a copy of the IKARIA cookbook.
I already shared this festive cabbage slaw from the IKARIA cookbook earlier this year. And today I wanted to share a Greek classic. Spanakorizo or Spinach Rice.
The title almost says it all. Rice and spinach are cooked together into a creamy consistency. Dill (or fennel fronds) and lots of lemon give it a fresh, intense flavor.
I wasn’t sure how Konrad would receive the bold flavors of this rice dish, but to my surprise he loved it! For my own taste I will reduce the lemon juice a little next time.
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup long-grain rice (I used Jasmine)
- 8 cups (~ 1 pound/450 g) chopped fresh spinach, stems removed
- ½ cup water (more as needed)
- ½ cup chopped wild fennel fronds or dill (I used dill)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 2 lemons, strained (1 would have been enough for me)
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir in garlic and add the rice. Stir over medium-low heat for 3 minutes.
- Add the spinach to the skillet and cover. Cook until spinach has lost most of its volume. Stir in water, fennel or dill and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer - stirring occasionally - until water is absorbed and rice is soft for about 25-30 minutes. If necessary for a creamier consistency, add a little more water after about 15 minutes (I added almost another ½ cup water).
- Finally, add the lemon juice and cook for just another 3 minutes.
- I added some sliced green onion on top before serving.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I was provided a review copy of IKARIA and another copy to give away to my lovely readers.