When we lived in Seattle, we loved eating at Panos Kleftiko, a small Greek taverna around the corner from our townhome. Although I’ve never been to Greece, I believe the food at this restaurant is authentically Greek. You see, Panos, the owner and chef, closed the restaurant for six weeks each year so he can return to Greece and visit family. (Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?!?)
Regardless of the origin of the recipes, I absolutely loved the kota kopanisti. It’s basically chicken (kota) topped with a feta cheese mixture and toasted almonds that is served with red grapes. Yes, raw red grapes! The cold grapes with the warm chicken and spicy cheese topping creates an incredible taste, texture, temperature combination like I had never had before. Absolutely divine.
So one year when Panos had closed the restaurant for his annual getaway, I felt I just couldn’t wait until he was back to have the kota kopanisti. However, despite my deft internet searching skills, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to find the exact recipe. Since “almost the same” just doesn’t cut it for me, I knew I had to figure it out on my own from the ingredients mentioned in his menu, similar recipes on the web, and my memory of what it should taste like. It took a couple of tries, but I think my version comes pretty close. And of course, now that we live in New York and the restaurant is permanently closed, mine is the only version that I get!
So why am I posting this now? Because it’s time for the reintroduction of dairy!
As I was planning what to eat on the dairy reintroduction days of the elimination diet, this dish came to mind almost immediately. Not only is it super tasty, but the only ingredient it adds that’s part of my elimination protocol is dairy. (Once you start thinking about it, you realize that many dishes that include dairy also include gluten in some form!) This is tonight’s dinner and I savored every bite of it… especially since I’m still monitoring symptoms and will have to permanently eliminate or significantly reduce my dairy consumption if anything shows up!
Panos created something really special with his restaurant and this dish, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
My version of Kota Kopanisti
- 4 oz feta cheese (look for authentic feta from goat or sheep milk)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh mint (or 1/2 tsp crumbled dried mint, in a pinch)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor.
- 2 chicken breasts, pounded lightly
- 2 tablespoons almond slivers, toasted
- 10 red seedless grapes, halved
- Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Oil a glass baking dish that is large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Put the chicken in the baking dish, cover with the kopanisti topping and sprinkle on the toasted almonds. Cook, uncovered for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with the grapes.
To make a light meal, pair with a simple Greek salad. For a heartier meal, also add some rice or roasted potatoes.