Is it wonderful when a mere delicacy makes you speechless? When tasting something that sounds so simple and ordinary, but when you try it you realize that it is just so different from everything else? This is what happened to me a few days ago when I visited the shop of ActionAid in Athens, and tried some Fair Trade and small Greek producers’ products. I was so excited that I decided to create a dish for the Christmas table, with some of these products, which combines everything; it’s healthy, it’s delicious, it requires minimal preparation time and above all, it is 100% Greek!
Let’s take things from the beginning. ActionAid (although I am sure you all know it) is an international, non-governmental, development organization that works with more than 15 million people in 45 countries for a world without poverty and injustice. From mid-April 2014, the first store of ActionAid opened in Athens, in order to strengthen its work. In the shop, guests can find all the products already available on the eshop of ActionAid and more: a wide range of T-shirts, baby clothes, accessories, crafts, books and food. The series of Fair Trade products and the Greek producers have been enriched and guests of the store have the opportunity to try some of the delicacies before purchase. Fair Trade is a worldwide movement that promotes an alternative trade process. It ensures that producers from poor developing countries are able to obtain a fair price for their product that can secure a life with dignity for themselves and their family. In addition, producers are prepaid 50% of their future crop so they can have a stable income. It also ensures that children do not work for the production of products, there is respect for gender equality and that the production is done in a sustainable manner, without harming the environment.
Regarding the cooperation of ActionAid with small producers from Greece was based on solidarity bridge between them and the small producers in the developing world. Buying i.e. Greek products you support the local market by promoting the network of supporters and on the other hand, revenues from sales support the action of the organization to combat poverty in remote communities of the developing world. Besides, we must not forget that every purchase is an option. For each choice we put some criteria that are important for us to arrive at a decision. The movement of our moral duty urges everyone to put in our selection criteria characteristics that help to make our world better.
Today’s dish contains black lentils from Feneos( a Greek region, famous for its legume production), which I bought in the Greek Flavors exhibition, held last weekend in Athens, smoked eggplant with feta and sweet red pepper, manufactured by “γiam” , a red chili chutney manufactured by “Go for … Eat”. Both companies (small Greek regional manufacturers of traditional delicacies) closely follow the traditional way of manufacturing their products, saying “no” to preservatives and chemicals. Both of these products are really excellent and I suggest you try them. Using them, you can create amazing dishes.
For lentils and their nutritional value we have already talked about. They are a rich source of protein, fiber and folate, and have only few calories. Black “beluga” lentils, which got this name because it looks like caviar, are a bit smaller in size and have a more earthy flavor. But they have something else, anthocyanins, a valuable antioxidant that is found in blueberries and blackberries. Anthocyanins help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and thereby protect against various types of cancers. Like all legumes, black lentils are rich in vitamins and minerals. Moreover, ¼ cup black lentils contain 9 grams of fiber!! Impressive, isn’t? They only need 20 minutes of boiling, they hold their shape and chewy texture once cooked and are easier to digest. Their only disadvantage is that they cost a little more than common lentils.
I gabble again…..:)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 120 g. black lentils (beluga)
- vegetable broth
- 300 g. smoked eggplant with feta cheese (1 ½ jar)
- 160 g. Red Chili chuntey (about 2/3 of the jar)
- Boil the lentils in vegetable broth, over medium heat, for 20 minutes. Season with salt as desired. Strain and leave to cool slightly.
- Put the eggplant with feta cheese on a plate and using a fork mash lightly, not too much.
- Using 9cm. diameter hoops, set up your dish, by dividing lentils in four dishes. Do the same with aubergines, pressing them lightly to stabilize. Finally add the jam.
- Using a piping bag with a very fine nose you might want to decorate the plates with jam.
And so you have the first course of your festive table, without too much trouble, but with excellent, healthy ingredients and flavors of small Greek producers.
PS1. I always liked the cloudy weather from time to time, constant sunshine tires me …. Lately, though, when I try to photograph my dishes and each day is darker than the other, I have begun to revise ……. darkness from a very cloudy day is evident in the pictures of this recipe….
PS2. now that all we make Christmas sweets and delicacies, let us have in our minds the people who cannot enjoy them. Let’s make a few more sweets and let us give some to a family in our neighborhood that we know are in need. Happy Holidays to all!!
PS3. In case you want to use homemade chilli jam for this dish, try my recipe for Sweet Chilli & Tomato Jam.