There’s something special about the dishes you eat on holiday in the Mediterranean. Perhaps it’s the warmth of good times with friends and family. Perhaps it’s that you’re tasting food that’s locally grown and bursting with flavour. Somehow you can taste the sunshine in every mouthful.
Leafing through the colourful photos and recipes in The Traveller’s Table cookery book brought back happy memories of the meals I’ve eaten in Greece and Turkey. I even tried out a few of the recipes for Sunday lunch at home which you can see below. If your mouth is watering by the end, you can take a look at the recipes in the e-book here.
About the Traveller’s Table
The Traveller’s Table recipe book was created by globetrotting couple, Chris and Carolyn Caldicott who ran the World Food Café in Covent Garden and now share their love of food through cookery books, writing and photography. Together with Simpson Travel, who offer luxurious handpicked villas, apartments and hotels in Corsica, Greece, Mallorca and Turkey, they have created a collection of simple, authentic and delicious recipes that are soaked in Mediterranean sunshine. Read on as I recreate some of the recipes from the book to enjoy at home and put you in the mood for planning your next holiday. Don’t forget I have 5 copies to give away at the end of the article.
Shaved fennel salad with clementines and capers
This refreshing salad of shaved fennel, oranges and capers is in the Corsica section of the book and although I haven’t been to Corsica it looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist. The fennel and oranges are freshly available at this time of year yet the vibrant colours make you feel that summer is already here. The salad makes a great first course to eat before the lamb or as an accompaniment to some cold meats and cheeses.
Ingredients 2 medium fennel bulbs | 3 clementines peeled and sliced or 2 large oranges | 2 spring onions thinly sliced | 2 tsp capers | Mint leaves
Dressing 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil | Juice of half a small lemon | a few sprigs of thyme, stripping the leaves from the stalks | Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Trim the top and bottom of the fennel and cut in half lengthways, then slice very finely using a mandolin.
- Arrange the fennel with the slices of clementine or oranges, sprinkling with capers, mint and spring onions.
- Mix the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad leaving in the fridge for the flavours to combine.
My Tip – the trick is to shave the fennel as finely as possible using the mandolin (taking care not to shave your fingers in the process)
Plan your holiday in Corsica The French influence brings a chic influence to the island to contrast with the rocky mountain wilderness. You can find a number of elegant villas on Corsica, from traditional stone to contemporary architecture at Simpson Travel here.
Kleftico inspired Barbecued lamb
This dish is inspired by a Greek classic and reminds me of the lamb kleftico that my sister serves in her restaurant in Greece. The recipe is said to have been created by bandits hiding in the hills who would slowly cook lamb in a pit in the ground so that there would be no smoke from the fire to betray their location. The herbs for the marinade and wild horta greens that are served with this dish would be easily found on any Greek hillside. These days the dish is slowly cooked in a closed earthenware pot with a rich tomato sauce and the typically Ottoman influence of the addition of cinnamon.
Most Greeks would have a veg patch with tomatoes and greens growing at the back on their house, although I used fresh spinach leaves which are more readily available in the UK. The slow cooked lamb is something I’ve often seen my sister’s Greek mother in law put in the oven, although the Greek version does not stint on the olive oil. Why would you when you have a cellar full of oil pressed from your own trees? Read my article on how to make delicious Greek stuffed tomatoes
This dish uses the same kleftico fresh herbs and spices for a version that’s quick and easy to make, pop in the fridge to marinade and then cook on a summer barbecue or in the oven for Sunday lunch. The Greeks tend to eat their main meal at lunchtime and this would be served even in summer, followed by a nice long siesta!
Ingredients 6 thick lamb chops or cutlets (1 or 2 per person)
For the marinade 3 tbsp olive oil | juice and zest of 1 lemon | 3 crushed garlic cloves | 2 tbsp red wine | 1 tbsp chopped rosemary | 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme | 1 tsp cinnamon | 3 torn bayleaves
- Put the lamb chops in a shallow dish, mix the marinade ingredients and pour over, leaving overnight in the fridge.
- The next day, cook the chops over a barbecue or in the oven and serve with lightly cooked spring greens such as horta or spinach with grilled tomatoes halves.
- The potato and courgette Boureki recipe below works well to accompany the lamb.
My Tip – Don’t overcook the lamb chops or they will dry out – keep basting with the marinade so they stay juicy.
This is the view of Zakynthos from the house of my sister’s Greek aunt who often invites us for lovely long lunches with lots of delicious Greek dishes. Read about some of the other Greek dishes we’ve enjoyed here.
Plan your holiday in Greece – You can take your pick from cottages on the beach or cliff-top views. Simpson Travel offer villas and apartments on Cofu, Crete, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Zakynthos and more – plan your Greek villa holiday here.
Cretan Courgette and Potato Boureki
This dish was ideal to accompany the lamb, using potatoes and courgettes that would be in every Greek vegetable patch together with local cheese that you might be storing in your cellar covered in olive oil to preserve it. I could eat that crispy cheese topping all day!
Ingredients 4 medium size waxy potatoes peeled and thinly sliced | 4 medium courgettes thinly sliced | 150 g ricotta cheese and 150 g crumbled feta cheese (or if in Greece use mizithra or anthotyros cheese) | 350ml whole milk | Dried mint, salt, fresh ground black pepper | 125g graviera or gruyere cheese grated
- Arrange the slices of potato and courgettes in layers in an oven proof dish, sprinkling the mint, salt and pepper as well as small pieces of crumbled feta cheese between each layer.
- Once you have filled the dish, mix the ricotta cheese with the milk and pour over the potatoes and courgettes
- Sprinkle the grated graviere or gruyere over the top of the dish
- Bake in a preheated oven at 190C or gas mark 5 for 35-45 minutes until the potato and courgettes are soft and the cheese makes a brown crusty topping.
Baked red peppers stuffed with jewelled pilaf
When I was in Turkey on a cruise last summer, we spent the day at a beautiful Turkish country house where we learned to cook some traditional dishes like these stuffed peppers. The memories of eating the lunch that we’d made under a shady pergola, followed by tiny cups of strong Turkish coffee still makes me smile, so I decided to cook these baked red peppers stuffed with a spiced pilaf rice. Read about my day cooking Turkish style here.
Ingredients 1.5 mugs of long-grain rice | 2 tbsp olive oil plus 2 tbsp butter | 1 medium onion diced | 4 cloves garlic finely chopped| 2 tbsp pine nuts | 2 tbsp pistachios chopped | 1 tsp cinnamon | 1 tsp cumin | 1 tsp ground allspice | ½ tsp ground pepper | 1 tsp dried oregano |1 tsp dried mint | 2 tbsp raisins |2 tbsp dried apricots chopped
- Rinse the rise in cold water and drain. Heat the butter and oil in a pan then gently saute the onion, garlic, pine nuts, pistachios until golden. Add the spices and herbs, then the rice and stir all together.
- Add 1.5 mugs cold water , the raisins and apricots and simmer until the rice is cooked and the water absorbed.
- Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and core, fill with the pilaf rice mixture and replace the tops.
- Sit the peppers in a shallow dish and add a cup of boiling water around the base, some olive oil and honey or pekmez (pomegranate molasses)
- Cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes on a medium heat or in a covered pan on the top of the stove.
- Serve with olives and crumbled feta cheese.
The peppers are delicious, with sweet flavours of dried fruit and spices that hark back to Ottoman times. This would make a great dish to serve vegetarian guests with cheese and olives.
Plan your holiday in Turkey – East meets West in Turkey with turquoise seas and an unspoiled coastline. Simpson Travel offers luxurious family villas in Akyaka, the Bozburun Peninsula, Dalyan, Fethiye, Kalkan and Kas. Find your Turkish holiday with Simpson Travel.
If you enjoyed a taste of the Mediterranean from The Traveller’s Table you can download the digital version of the book here.
Which of the recipes would you cook? Do you have happy memories of great food in the Mediterranean? Do let me know in the comments.
About Simpson Travel
This article was brought to you in partnership with Simpson Travel who offer a unique collection of villas, apartments and hotels in Corsica, Greece, Mallorca and Turkey. The destinations were chosen for the richness of the experiences they offer, from a mountain hike, a boat trip around the coast to an exploration of history and heritage. Check out the Simpson Travel website or follow them on Social Media: Twitter| Facebook | Pinterest |Google+
This giveaway is now closed but look out for other giveaways I’ll be running soon.