comfort food,  Greek + Mediterranean,  vegetarian

Fakes (Greek Lentils)

Sometimes a girl just wants some beans and rice. Or beans and pasta, as the case may be. Pronounced fa-KEE and sometimes called fakorizo, THIS is my comfort food. I absolutely begged for it as a child. It’s a security blanket in a bowl, like chicken noodle soup.

Eating comfort food is my class of self-medicating. It soothes me physiologically. So when I am feeling blue, I reach for my drug of choice: comfort food.

Hello, I’m Naked Epicurean, and I am a comfort food addict.

My drug must meet requisite standards. For example:

  • Is it easy to make? Check.
  • Does it evoke nostalgia? Check.
  • Is it loaded with calories? Yep.
  • Is it unapologetically carby? Heck, yeah.
  • And because of the carbs and calories, is it often guilt-inducing? You got it.
  • Does it make everything with the world right again? It sure does.

Archetypal comfort foods check all the boxes.

The recipes for fakes vary from Greek isle to isle. My maternal grandmother’s family, who were from the island of Rhodes, made this dish with lentils, rice, onion, tomato sauce and a couple slices of bacon. Here’s the tableaux:

…humble village living with a dirt floor and chickens
skittering in and out of the home…fakes simmering in a single pot over an open flame…

When Granny married and moved to America, she swapped the rice for a product called Rosamarina (what I now know as orzo). As a pasta devotee, I approve of this amendment.

I am trying to health-ify this dish, so I have made my own modifications by subbing olive oil for the bacon and adding carrots + spinach.  I am smitten with this recipe, even without the bacon. Just be sure to caramelize the onions. So important. And top with LOADS of feta. LOADS. Or Parmesan.

We used Parm when we were little because feta was impossible to find in Augusta. Feta had to be “imported” from Pittsburgh via the back seat of the Chevy with all the other ethnic delicacies that had not yet debuted in the South (including the Rosamarina). As you can imagine, there was little room left on road trips for us kids. But, you know, #priorities.

This dish has a comforting–dare I say–density to it. I hope this gives you the yummy-in-my-tummy feels that it gives me.

What is your comfort food?

Enjoy fakes with a bright Pinot Gris or a berry + smoky Rioja.


If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear all about it!  Leave your comments below and tag your photos #nakedepicurean so we can celebrate together!

Fakes (Greek Lentils and Rice)

  • 1 pound green or brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water (approximately) for original boil
  • 4 cups of stock or broth or water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of orzo pasta
  • 1 dash of dried dill
  • 1 big handful of fresh spinach
  • 1+ teaspoon each freshly ground S&P
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  •           loads of feta or Parmesan cheese
  • parsley or fresh dill for garnish

1. Before cooking, rinse lentils in cold water and pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils. Add lentils to a pot with bay leaf and 2 inches of water to cover. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until the lentils are done, about 25-35 minutes. They should be firm-ish, but not mushy. Drain the lentils, reserving 2 cups of lentil water if not using stock.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it is softened and translucent, about five minutes. Add the carrot and sauté 2-3 minutes more; then add the garlic and dill and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the orzo and sauté for another 2 minutes until covered in the olive oil. Then add the lentils, S&P, and red pepper flakes. Blend well.

3. Add the tomato sauce and 2 cups broth or lentil water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until orzo is cooked and water is absorbed. Add more hot water as needed.

4. Serve with crumbled feta or grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.


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