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30-minute Spentzofai and Tsiknopempti

30-minute Spentzofai and Tsiknopempti

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Spentzofai (pr. Spehn-tzoh-FAH-ee) or sometimes written spetzofai, without the “n”, is a Greek traditional recipe from Pelion, Thessaly. 

The traditional recipe is made with local sausages and lots of peppers, especially a hot variety called spentzes, a local variety from Pelion, from which the dish takes its name.

Red and green peppers image

The sausages and peppers are cooked in a sauce by adding onions,  tomatoes, wine and just salt and pepper because most of the taste of this dish comes from the spices in the sausages.

After making Spentzofai many times, I have made my own twists to the traditional recipe, so today you will find two different recipes, one made almost the traditional way and the second using my homemade spicy sauce, which made the procedure much easier.    

In the second recipe I did not have any hot peppers. so I added bell peppers and to give it a kick, I added a pinch of harissa.    Feta is added, optionally.

Peppers image

Note:  More recipes added at the end of the post.

spetzofai with peppers image

Tsiknopempti

Last Thursday was Tsiknopempti, which literally translates as Smelly Thursday, Charred Thursday, or Smoky Thursday.

Smelly in a good sense, referring to the smell (tsikna) of the smoke coming , from the charred meat, which fills the atmosphere from everywhere on that day, as it is a tradition to grill or fry meet. 

lady selling souvlakia on Tsiknopempti image

Pempti means fifth as it is the fifth day of the week.

Furthermore, Tsiknopempti is  during the carnival period so it’s one more reason for people to celebrate before the 48 days of fasting during Lent.

On this day the municipalities organize outdoor barbecues and grills in central squares while the municipal bands play happy carnival music and people have fun.

At least this was the situation until the economic crisis hit us!

Spetzofai with halloumi image
Spentzofai with halloumi

This year the situation  is tragic in Greece.  

The same arrangements were made this year as well.

Varvakeios, the central  market of Athens, in collaboration with the meat vendors and the municipality of Athens, organized outdoor grills by offering almost 1.5 tons of meat (chicken, sausages, pork, lamb etc) as well as 200 kilos of wine and the band was there trying to cheer up people.

However, all you could see were endless queues of people of all ages waiting patiently with grimmed faces to fill their tummies. 

Not only pensioners, who’ve seen their already scant pensions reduced to 300 – 400 Euros a month but also younger unemployed people, who are desperate to find a job and families who cannot cope with one reduced salary and meat is now  a luxury for their survival.

You may see pictures here. This is Greek reality today. 

The majority of the  Greek people, have been affected by the economic crisis, one way or the other.   

We are still among  the fortunate who still have food to eat but don’t let this mislead you because we are also making lots of other sacrifices to cope with less money and increased bills to pay.

We did not go out as is the tradition but I prepared a few things for a family gathering at home.    I prepared Spentzofai as well as some Pizzas.

spicy sausages image
Translation: traditional country sausages with selected spices

In my recipe I used some spicy sausages and my Homemade Spicy Tomato Sauce, which I also used both in Spetzofai as well as in the pizza. 

Having made the sauce several days earlier, made the procedure much easier for both recipes.

Before going to the recipes, here are a couple more ways I used my spicy sauce. If you want something different for an easy dinner, make Pizza Sandwiches:

Pizza sandwiches :

Fully open one bun per person and place some sauce on both sides.  Add some slices of tomato, on which sprinkle some oregano. Then, put a few slices of lountza or other smoked pork and a few slices on halloumi on top. 

Finally, top it with shredded mozzarella. Repeat exactly the same with the remaining buns.  Preheat oven to 180o C and bake until mozzarella melts, about 10 minutes.

Sandwich both pieces and enjoy!

Pizza sandwiches image

The first recipe included spicy sausages, three kinds of peppers (bell peppers, pickled hot peppers and roasted Piperies Florinis), bacon and eggplants.

Collage Spetzofai with eggplants image

Spetzofai with Eggplants and Bacon  

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cooking time:  50 minutes

Serves: 4 – 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 tsp olive oil on each piece
  • 4 Greek spicy sausages, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 slices bacon (optional)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (divided, including eggplants)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (yellow, red, green), julienned
  • 1 slice roasted piperia Florinis
  • 5 – 6 piperies toursi (pickled peppers), cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 cup white dry wine
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled (or 1 tin whole tomatoes) puréed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut each eggplant into four slices and brush each with about a teaspoon of olive oil.  Bake in a preheated oven to 180oC / 350oF, for about half an hour or until the eggplants are soft.
  2. Meantime cut the sausage into slices about 2 cm each and bacon into larger pieces. Peel onions and garlic and finely chop them. Remove seeds from the peppers and julienne them. Blend tomatoes together with tomato paste.  Cut the roasted eggplants into smaller pieces.
  3. In a skillet heat a tbsp olive oil and sauté the sausages and bacon on both sides.  Remove to a platter and heat the remaining oil.  Add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes and then add garlic and sauté 2 – 3 minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the peppers and stir until all ingredients are well mixed.  Add the bacon and sausages as well as wine and mix for 2 – 3 minutes until the alcohol evaporates.   Finally add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, mix and cover.
  5. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.   
  6. Serve warm with rice, pasta or fried potatoes.

Note:  Leftover can be eaten the next day cold, as a mezes, or it makes a delicious pizza.  The only ingredient you need to add is some cheese on top.

Second Recipe

Τhe  second recipe is much easier as I used my spicy sauce and except for sausages and peppers, I have also added some mushrooms and feta.

You will find this recipe at the end.

Collage Spetzofai image

Update:  9 December 2014:

Spetzofai with Pasta image

Making a pasta dish with leftover spentzofai:

Sauté some mushrooms which add at the end.

Cook fussili al dente and mix in the leftover spentzofai and you will have the most amazing pasta dish.

spetzofai with ditali pasta image

I have also made this dish with ditali pasta.

Here are a few more ideas how to use spentzofai:

Spetzofai and gogges image

Spentzofai served with local pasta from Argolida, called Gogges.

Spetzofai Risotto image

Turn your leftover Spentzofai into a risotto.

Kebab served with spetzofai image

Add your leftover spentzofai sauce on a Kebab served on Greek pita bread, served with Greek yoghurt.

Leftover Spentzofai makes a wonderful pizza.  Just add some cheese on top!

spetzofai pizza photograph
Spetzofai with halloumi picture

30-minute Spentzofai

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Spetzofai (pr. Speh-tzoh-FAH-ee) or sometimes written spentzofai is a Greek traditional recipe from Pelion, Thessaly.  The traditional recipe is made with local sausages and lots of peppers, especially a hot variety called spentzes, from which the dish takes its name.   

Ingredients

  • 200 grams button or champignon mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Greek spicy sausages, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 slices bacon (optional)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers (yellow, red, green), julienned
  • ½ cup white dry wine
  • Salt and pepper (optional)
  • 150 grams feta, cut into small pieces
  • A pinch of harissa (or hot boukovo, chili or paprika)
  • 1 ½ cups spicy tomato sauce

Instructions

  1. In a heavy skillet add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté the mushrooms on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Heat another tablespoon olive oil and sauté the sausages and bacon on both sides. Put the sausages in a plate and wipe away any fat from the skillet.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil and sauté the bell peppers for a few minutes.
  4. Add the sausages and the mushrooms back in the skillet and add the wine. Cook for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate..
  5. Add the spicy sauce, feta, salt and pepper, harissa and mix.
  6. Cover with the lid and cook for five minutes.
  7. Serve hot with lots of crusty bread.

Notes

Note:  Leftover can be eaten the next day cold, as a mezes, or it makes a delicious pizza.  The only ingredient you need to add is some cheese on top.

Nutrition Information
Yield 5 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 375Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 56mgSodium 754mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 2gSugar 5gProtein 13g

"These values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed."

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Collage spetzofai image

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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