Over the past few days, I have been flicking through my Greek cookbooks precariously seeking warmth and sunshine through food. Yesterday, I shared my version of a Greek Shepherds Pie, but I wanted to make something a bit more authentic rather than a fusion of British and Greek cuisine. Talking of fusion cuisine, I have also made a Prasopita - a authentic Greek Pie that you could easily mistake to be a fusion creation of Greece and Wales cuisine as the recipe has every Welsh persons favourite ingredient: Leeks, but more about that in March when I plan to share it for St David's Day.
Today I share a casserole dish featuring Greek Hilopites. I bookmarked this dish because it reminded me of my Greek flatmates from Thessoloniki slurping a big red bowl of this silky ribbon pasta dish. At the time I found it a bit strange that these fiercely proud Greek boys were swirling their spoon and forks around Italian pasta. Nothing wrong with that after cheap beans on toast, pasta dishes were the next affordable grub for students, but my culinary knowledge was enhanced. He pulled out a brown bag of pasta and it was not packet Italian pasta, but one he had brought back from Greece, it could even have been homemade, I don't remember - but I was told firmly but politely, that this was hilopites, not tagliatelle.
Hilopites is a traditional Greek dried ribbon pasta and is popular throughout the Mediterranean. Hilopites can very much be described as Tagliatelle. It is often made with eggs and milk. However hilopites is much shorter than tagliatelle.
Theodore Kyriakou in The Real Greek At Home writes 'that his father was convinced that when Marco Polo took the idea of pasta from the Chinese and brought it back to Italy, he was only following in the footsteps of the brave Greek who took the recipe for hilopites from the East in a similar fashion'.
This vegetarian Greek Hilopites Pasta is enhanced with sweet paprika and saffron that is why it is so vividly saffron coloured. I was supposed to garnish it with some minced chives, but I forgot in my haste to get a picture.
It was really delicious, meltingly so - the hilopites was infused wonderfully with the saffron and sweet paprika, the shallots silky smooth and the garlic , I guess you just have to be careful that you don't overcook the hilopites as it can easily become mushy and that is okay if you like that. The shallots became sweet and tender.
Although none of my Greek inspired dishes are vegan, I wonder what my blogger friend Veganopolous will think of my Greek inspired dishes, including the Greek Shepherds Pie and the Prasopita, when I showcase it in March (if not before).
I am sharing this vegetarian Greek Hilopites Pasta with Saffron with Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching For Spice.
Greek Hilopites with Saffron and Shallots
50ml olive oil
250g baby shallots1 x300 jar tomato perasti (Greek tomato passata) or equivalent
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 litre vegetable stock
Pinch of saffron strands (from Steenberg)
250g - 300g hilopites or dried egg tagliatelle
50g butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste
Chives, finely chopped for garnishing
Adapted from The Real Greek At Home by Theodore Kyriakou and Charles Campion