Wednesday 8 July 2015

Grilled Fish on the BBQ and Greek Pasta Salad

I visited the Greek islands three times in my 20s when a holiday to me meant sun, sea, sand and a bit of sightseeing – but not too much. My first ever package holiday was to the Greek island of Rhodes – it was also my first holiday with my ex boyfriend. I remember going into a travel agent one day during our holidays from university, asking what cheap deals they had, and booking something that left the very next day! Accommodation was “allocated on arrival” which meant we knew nothing about where we were staying, but as a broke student I didn’t really care. We ended up being very lucky having a two-centre holiday, spending a week in Pefkos and a week in Lindos. The accommodation itself wasn’t great – and it was so hot some days, we couldn’t even sunbathe and just lay in our room under the ceiling fan (nothing as fancy as air conditioning for us!).
Since then I’ve also been to Crete and Santorini – the latter is absolutely beautiful, and the location of the iconic Greek island photo you see all the time in books and on television – even in a recent yogurt advert. Santorini was partly destroyed by a volcanic eruption many centuries ago, creating an underwater caldera (crater); the towns of Fira and Oia sit on the cliff top overlooking the caldera providing a beautiful spot to watch the sunset (if you can get a space amid all the other tourists!).
Santorini - my holiday snap
It's such a shame now to hear about the situation in Greece and I hope that the country is able to get itself back on a surer financial footing - and tourism will no doubt play a part in that.
One of the highlights of my trips as well as the sightseeing – the Santorini sunset, the acropolis of Lindos, the Colossus of Rhodes, a winery tour in Crete - was the food. We would sunbathe all day, go back to our room around 7 and get ready to go out for a late dinner. Every night we ate at a different taverna or beach-front restaurant; the food was cheap and delicious and I ate fresh fish as often as possible.

One day during our trip in Rhodes - at least, I'm pretty sure it was Rhodes but this is going back 15 years - we went on a boat trip that included lunch of freshly grilled fish. It was delicious, so when I was asked by Jet2 Holidays to choose a country from the list and come up with a recipe, with the weather here so hot at the moment I immediately thought of my Greek island holidays.
Rhodes - acropolis at Lindos
This year we bought a Weber gas barbecue and it's so easy to cook on. I bought a whole sea bream from the supermarket as the closest fish to what I remember eating in Rhodes; it was already gutted and I wanted to keep the flavours simple so stuffed the cavity with wedges of lemon and rosemary from my garden. You need to remember to oil the fish on both sides, and preheat the barbecue or grill.

Cook the fish for about 5 mins on each side until you see the flesh turn white. Turn with a metal fish slice.
It didn't take long before the fish was cooked to perfection - it tasted absolutely gorgeous with the rosemary and lemon flavours coming through.

A dish like this takes centre stage but it's nice to have an accompaniment. As the theme is Greece, I made this Greek pasta salad. The dressing is particularly good; I based it on one I found online but is my own recipe

Greek pasta salad
To serve 4-6  as a side dish, you need:
About 400g pasta; orzo is a popular pasta in Greek cuisine but is too small for this dish so I used fusilli. If you can get hold of a specialist Greek pasta though then do use it!
Salt for cooking
Half a cucumber, cut into chunky slices and each slice cut in half
300g pack of cherry tomatoes
Half a red onion, thinly sliced
200g olives – black olives would be more traditional but I liked the look of stuffed green olives for an extra punch
200g feta cheese, cubed
240g bag baby spinach leaves
Fresh basil leaves (optional)
For the dressing:
2 tsp Dijon mustard with honey (or regular Dijon mustard)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Cook the pasta according to pack instructions and allow to cool.
Mix together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.
Toss the salad with the other ingredients, pour the dressing over the top and toss again.

Thanks to Jet2 Holidays for covering the cost of the ingredients for this recipe.

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