Until recently our family lived in Miami, Florida. We spent two years there, on South Beach actually. It's a long story, how we got there, why we were there, but part of the reason is that three of my husband's sisters live there. South Beach is a crazy town my friends, and if you haven't been you must go at least once. Two blocks from our apartment was a place called Taverna Opa, a Greek restaurant where my seven year old niece begged to have her birthday party. I knew that Opa's manager lived in my apartment building, a sharply dressed Greek man who I always seemed to be running into in the elevator (and who would not hire me as a waitress, I reminisce bitterly), but aside from this I didn't know what to expect.
When we walked in I looked around at the long wooden tables and the nicely spare decor. I could see nothing about it that would lure a child to want to have a birthday party there. But the food was fantastic! Mouthwatering, in fact. Unforgettable I say. Everything was served family style: salads, fried cheese (saganaki), kabobs, all doused in lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. Mmmm. I've had Greek food in numerous diners run by the Greeks back in Wisconsin. They served Spanikopita and Souvlaki and other traditional dishes but also American fare, and all for good prices. But at Opa's I was eating authentic all the way, and I let everyone at the table know how much I enjoyed it, then and for weeks after.
Spinach and lemon go together like love and marriage.
Opa-style Greek Chicken with Rice
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into one inch chunks
juice of one lemon, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbl. olive oil
1, 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups cooked brown basmati rice
salt and pepper, to taste
feta cheese, lemon slices, and chopped or slivered almonds for garnish, optional
Put the chicken in a non-reactive dish (non-plastic). Mix with oil, half of the lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate for at least one hour, or up to three (any longer and the lemon juice will start to cook the chicken). In a hot skillet saute the chicken until no longer pink in the middle, remove from pan.
In the leftover juices saute the onion and spinach and the third clove of garlic, adding more oil if necessary. When the onion is translucent add the rice and the remainder of the lemon juice, saute for a minute more, salting and peppering to taste.
Serve the rice and spinach, top with chicken and garnishes.