Cheesy Trahanas (τραχανάς) with Sweet Tomato Prawns and Bacon

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Some time ago I was approached by Monthly Flavors – a food subscription box service which aims to help people explore and taste quality food products created by farms and family-run companies from all over Greece. The box contains 5 to 6 full-size Mediterranean delicacies which are carefully selected each month and delivered straight to your doorstep all over Europe! Monthly Flavors kindly sent me one of their boxes and I happily chose some of the products to try out in a new recipe.

Are you interested in (re-)discovering Greek food products as well? Use my special coupon code ‘gluttonlife’ Monthly Flavors kindly provided for you to get 10% off your first box!

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For me, personally, what I liked about the box is that it introduced me to some traditional Greek products I had heard of, but had never cooked with before. Not only was there some lovely tomato marmalade from Crete, but my box had a bag of handmade sweet trahanas from Giannitsa. I had only ever had ‘trahana pie’ baked by my boyfriend’s mom before, but while doing some research on trahanas I learned it’s mostly used as a basis for a porridge-like soup. “Looks interesting… I need to try it out myself”, I thought.


But… what is trahanas anyway? Trahanas is an ancient food of which the origins are somewhat disputed. Some say that the food originated in ancient Greece, while others argue that it comes from Persia, or Turkey. Wherever it’s from, nowadays, trahanas is still eaten in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and it’s especially popular in Cyprus where it’s eaten with pieces of halloumi, or feta.


Essentially, trahanas is a type of pasta made of flour, or cracked wheat. When whole milk is added during the production process you get what is referred to as ‘sweet trahanas’ (the one used in this recipe), but when buttermilk, or yoghurt are added, you end up with what is referred to as ‘sour trahanas’… for obvious reasons. It is said that trahanas was made out of the necessity to keep both grains and dairy available over the winter period. Smart. Seems like it’s one of the world’s oldest comforting fast foods.


Turns out, cooking trahanas really is quite quick and easy. All you have to do is make sure to keep a close eye on it as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot very easily. Vigorous stirring and continuously adding liquids is key to successfully cooking trahanas; whether you are making a thin soup, or the version here that is more thick and creamy. It’s also for that same reason that the amount of stock listed below is an estimate. Depending on the type of trahanas you’ve bought and depending on your preferred consistency you may have to add more, or less stock.


Trahanas’ visual resemblance to couscous, or grits (though, made from wheat) was the first thing I noticed when I looked at the package of dry crumbs and photographs of cooked end-results. Because trahanas already contains dairy and is also often eaten with chunks of feta, halloumi, or gruyere cheese, I really wanted to try to take it beyond its traditional uses in pie or soup and create some kind of Mediterranean version of ‘shrimp and cheesy grits’. Didn’t get shrimp in the end, though, but found some lovely, big, juicy Greek prawns at the fish market… I’m not complaining.


The cheese I picked for this recipe is a lovely ‘xirotyri’ (ξηροτύρι) which is a hard, aged sheep’s and goat’s cheese from Samothraki. This cheese goes well with the seafood in this dish as it is said the sheep and goats that produce the milk for this cheese sometimes drink seawater, giving the cheese a slightly salty ‘sea flavor’. Despite that lovely story, if you are unable to find this type of cheese you can easily use a nice Gruyere (γραβιέρα), or aged Cheddar as well.


According to many homecooks, it’s not only cheese that is trahanas’ best friend, but tomato is as well. That’s why I too feature tomato as a main ingredient in this dish. However, instead of adding tomato to the actual cooking process of the trahanas, I opted for some refreshing stir-fried cherry tomato ‘salsa’ with lime juice to serve on top of this otherwise rather heavy dish. Great choice. Turns out it really adds a necessary freshness to the entire dish.



I wanted the prawns to be slightly smoky, caramelized and sweet – reminiscent of a good barbecue shrimp. The diced bacon in this dish added a nice smokiness, while the tomato marmelade from the Monthly Flavor’s box served perfectly as a marinade and glaze for the prawns… yeah, you don’t necessarily have to spread it on a piece of toast (though, you can, of course!).



Cheesy Trahanas (τραχανάς) with Sweet Tomato Prawns and Bacon

0.0 rating
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:20 mins
  • Serves:4
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • 1.3l good quality chicken stock
  • 20 large prawns, or shrimp, deveined and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato marmelade
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 350g sweet trahanas
  • 50g butter
  • 200g xirotyri, or Gruyere, finely grated
  • 150g smoked bacon, diced
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of ½ lime, or lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl add 2 tablespoons of tomato marmalade and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir until mixed. With a brush, brush the tomato marmalade and olive oil mixture onto your deveined and peeled prawns. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside until needed.
  3. Place a large high-rimmed frying pan, or pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the finely chopped onion and garlic clove. Sauté until onion begins to brown and soften.
  4. Add the trahanas to the pan with the onion and sauté for about 1 - 2 minutes until the trahanas has soaked up the moisture and oil from the pan.
  5. With a soup ladle, add the chicken stock except for 100ml in batches while stirring regularly. Continue boiling and stirring for about 10 minutes, until the trahanas gets soft.
  6. While the trahanas is boiling, place a frying pan, or griddle pan over high heat. Take your diced bacon and add to the pan. Fry until crisp and brown. Take your marinated prawns and place them in the pan. Fry them for about 2 minutes on each side. The prawns are fully cooked when they have turned opaque. Remove prawns and bacon from pan onto a plate and set aside.
  7. While the pan you've cooked the prawns in is still hot, add the quartered cherry tomatoes, finely chopped parsley and the leftover 100ml of chicken stock. Stir, and scrape all the flavors from the pan. Sauté tomatoes for 2 minutes then remove from heat and add the juice and zest of ½ lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  8. When the trahanas is soft and ready -it should have the texture of a thick, velvety porridge - remove the pot from the heat and add the knob of butter and 200g of finely grated Gruyere cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until butter and cheese have melted and are well incorporated.
  9. To serve, ladle cheesy trahanas in deep plates, or bowls. Top with the cherry tomato mixture and juices from the pan. Place sweet tomato prawns and bacon cubes on top.

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