It’s been two and a half months since my surgery to remove two cancerous tumors in my small intestines (and about three feet of actual intestine) and since surgery I’ve been on a zero-fiber diet (per doctor’s orders) with slow doses added here and there after the 6-7 week mark to slowly get my intestines back to normal.
After that build up period of slowly introducing my body to low doses of fiber, today I reached the 10-week mark which meant being (finally) able to go all out with a full fiber meal.
The conditions were perfect. It was snowing outside and I needed an old-fashioned dose of Greek comfort food, just like my mom used to make.
I chose fasolada, the “mother of all” Greek winter comfort foods that generations of Greeks grew up with.
Fortunately I had my mom’s instructions and recipe, as well as some of the finest products in the world that made my fasolada taste exactly like it does in Greece.
I used organic white beans from a Greek company called Arosis and soaked them from the night before. They’re not readily available unless you have a Greek grocery store in your area. I got mine in Astoria.
The first step was to chop the veggies in big chunks. If they’re too small they’re going to dissolve in the boiling process so the chunkier the better.
An interesting tip my chef friend Maria Loi taught me— never peel the carrot because you’re losing all the fiber and good vitamins that are in the skin. Just make sure you scrub the carrot clean with cold water and use a brush to get all of the dirt off!
I used carrots, garlic, a large onion, some garlic and celery. I wish I could tell you how much… in the tradition of my mom, and generations of cooks before her… a bunch of this and a little of that.
If I remember correctly, I used three large carrots, three or four celery stalks, three garlic cloves and a large white onion. First step was to sauté the veggies on a super-low heat for about 20 minutes until soft.
I sautéed them in Papadopoulos’ Mythocia Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which in my opinion, is the very best olive oil I’ve ever used to cook with*. (I know, everyone’s yiayia makes the best EVOO and the Cretans are always fighting with the Kalamatans about whose olive oil is best. As I said, I’ve tasted dozens of olive oils and I’ve come up with my own favorite.
*I use a different EVOO to cook with and another to “finish” a meal or salad. Details below.
After about twenty minutes, the vegetables got soft and the onions translucent and I added a heaping tablespoon of Kyknos Greek tomato paste and let the vegetables get covered in the tomato. Luckily, Kyknos available at Whole Foods.
A side note: I always look for the “non-GMO” label on the food I buy for the simple reason that I do not trust the American food supply, let alone the various agencies that are in the back pockets of the food lobby. Most Greek products don’t carry the non-GMO label for the simple reason that the entire nation of Greece is a non-GMO zone so by default, food products made in Greece are non-GMO.
Next up, I stirred in about two liters of water and the herbs, the most important component of my fasolada (again, in my opinion). I used three dafni leaves (aka bay leaves) and a few pinches of dentrolivano, aka rosemary.
I’m very serious about the herbs and spices I cook with and have sourced a brand called Daphnis & Chloe from Greece, and made them available on The Pappas Post Market. The company has a great story and takes great care in the plants they select.
After about 90 minutes on a soft boil, my fasolada is ready and I’m one happy guy.
Last but not least…
There is one final (and very important) step to my perfect fasolada. Right before eating, I finish my bowl with a few drops of my other favorite extra virgin olive oil, also by Papadopoulos. It’s the Omphacium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, one of the highest-quality EVOOs in the world, not to mention amongst the most expensive, but worth every drop.
In addition to its health benefit, the high-phenolic extra virgin olive oil has a unique, peppery taste that makes the fasolada so much tastier and more spicy.
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