My predecessor Aunt Maxine, whose column used to fill this space a decade ago, once told me readers asking for "a good recipe" for "Lemon Rice Soup" ranked as one of the common requests she'd receive time and time again.
This tasty, tangy favorite often is enjoyed in restaurants, but not always served on many home menus. But during the summer, when hot weather makes menu planning not such an easy task, the powerful flavor of Lemon Rice Soup makes for a satisfying and simple solution.
Reader Christine Zaharias, of Valparaiso, provided me with a great "Lemon Rice Soup" published in one of my columns in 2005 in honor of the traditional Greek foods featured at that year's 25th annual Greek Festival at the Porter County Fairgrounds in Valparaiso. That recipe is forever preserved in my second cookbook with "the yellow cover" published in 2007 "More From the Farm." (If you are missing this book volume from your collection, you can contact me at the telephone number at the bottom of my column and my Mom might be able to find one for you.)
This recipe was extra special coming from Zaharias, who was the first woman to ever chair the festival sponsored by St. Iakovos Greek Orthodox Church in Valparaiso.
From recipes ranging from fish, shrimp, pizza and Greek salad to lamb, Greek chicken, shish kebabs, lemon rice soup, meatballs and stuffed grape leaves, no one ever "leaves" hungry when visiting a Greek Fest, with menus capped off with a selection of pastries, including baklava and a variety of entertainment.
This weekend, Saints Constantine & Helen Cathedral, at 8000 Madison Street in Merrillville, is hosting their 2013 Greek Festival, starting Friday at 5 p.m. and then noon until 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. FYI: (219) 769-2481 or visit ssconstantineandhelen.org
Today's recipe is from reader Leona Jackomis of Portage. Her late husband, Jerry, was of Greek heritage. Jerry's father was a native of the Greek Isle of Crete. The couple often toured olive vineyards while visiting Greece, which inspired this recipe.
"I'm a Polish cook by my own heritage, but I learned to make and enjoy Greek recipes over the years," Leona tells me.
"This salad was, and still is, a favorite at many family get-togethers and parties."
Leona's Greek Salad
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon dark Karo syrup
Spices to taste:
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 small cucumbers, (can be chopped or sliced)
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
Optional: A few leaves of Romaine lettuce, rinsed, patted dry and torn into small pieces
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
DIRECTIONS: Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, white vinegar and syrup in a bowl; add spices to taste and mix thoroughly. Combine vegetables in a separate salad bowl. Pour dressing over salad and gently toss to combine. Sprinkle cheese over salad; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.