Nick Anthe’s Free Bean Salad Meze

I was going to dedicate this entire column to Easter treats, but since Easter is over a week away, I changed my mind and decided to share copycat recipes that I have collected or created over the years. I have a few fun stories and recipes from Ohio and South Carolina, and one from my favorite restaurant in South Texas.

As most of you know, I grew up in Ohio and didn’t move to the Gulf Coast until 1978. My family in Ohio has many talents: painters, craft artists, potters, wrestlers, jugglers (although, to be fair, the jugglers were born in South Carolina) and fantastic cooks, men and women alike. And being Greek, we of course had two family restaurants; I’m going to share stories about the Kariotis family Greek restaurants. The Zappeion (called “The Zap”) closed in 1943 when my grandparents, the owners, sold it due to World War II rationing which made it hard to find help and good beef, chicken, pork and lamb. The Zap was known for its fashionable late hour clientele of socialites, politicians, lawyers and law enforcement officials and also by a few not so official people. Twenty-seven years later my parents opened Zorba’s Old Portage Inn (called “The Zop”). Funny coincidence? I think not! Now we were not the only Greek family in the area to have a restaurant — there were several in the area including two owned by our good family friends, the Yankos, and Anthe’s two famous local restaurants.

I am sharing a few copycat recipes from Ohio, but I don’t want to leave out North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and South Texas. So “Please join our Table” as I share recipes from my book of secret recipes.

The secret recipe of Nick Anthe’s Free Bean Salad Meze

As the story goes, my mom, Jean Kariotis, was a lifelong friend of Nick Anthe, owner of the famous Anthe’s Restaurant in Akron, Ohio. She not only dated him but also helped him out in his restaurant as the seating host for a short time. She loved this appetizer so Nick shared the recipe with her. One day someone asked her for the highly guarded bean salad secret recipe. As the story goes, somehow the Akron Beacon Journal got a hold of it and printed it! Needless to say, Nick was not happy, but she never revealed that she thought it may have been her that let the recipe out of the bag!


5 cups canned cooked red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup diced celery

3/4 cup diced Spanish onions

1 cup diced sweet pickles

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup mayonnaise (or to taste) (Yes, I now use Duke’s Mayonnaise!)

2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice

Note: For enhanced color, add 1/4 cup chopped stemmed Italian parsley.

DIRECTIONS: Rinse beans thoroughly and drain very well. In a large bowl, mix beans and remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate one hour before serving. Serve with crackers or toasted pita bread triangles. Makes about 15 servings.

Copycat Eggplant by Theo

This is a copycat of the best eggplant meze I have ever eaten. I have visited the village of Pinehurst, North Carolina several times but the first year I was there I enjoyed a fantastic Greek meal at Theos Taverna. Theo and his wife served me the tastiest Greek fried eggplant I have ever eaten. So crisp, flavorful, and a beautiful golden brown. I went back every year for 10 years for that eggplant and they graciously shared the ingredients, but not the recipe!


1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, sprinkle with salt and drain for 30 minutes, pat dry

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon fine semolina flour

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning

DIRECTIONS: Slice eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. (I think he meant lengthwise but either cut will work.) Combine mayonnaise, salt, cayenne pepper and onion. Set aside. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and Greek seasoning. Spread both sides of eggplant slices with mayonnaise mixture, then coat with breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes; carefully turn the slices over and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Or you can always fry them on the stove in oil. Served with a Greek garlicky red sauce with a touch of cinnamon.

Bomboras Rockfish Grill Copycat Deep-Fried Black-Eyed Peas

On Lagoon Street in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Bomboras had this on the menu but I never managed to get the recipe. I think this is how they made these crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside deep-fried Old Bay seasoned black-eyed peas.


1 3/4 cups sunflower, coconut, or grapeseed vegetable oil

1 cup frozen black-eyed peas, thawed

1 tablespoon Old Bay seafood seasoning (or pick up Dave Martin’s seafood seasoning at his Piggly Wiggly store in HHI)

*You will need a candy/cooking thermometer.

DIRECTIONS: In deep, 2-quart saucepan, heat oil to 325 degrees. Line 2-3 plates with layers of paper towels to absorb the oil after cooking peas. Carefully place peas in hot oil; cook 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wire strainer or skimmer, carefully remove peas from the saucepan to the paper towel-lined plates. Immediately sprinkle with seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Copycat “to die for” King’s Inn Tartar Sauce

South Texas, we lived there for seven years in Corpus Christi and loved it! Many friends were being transferred to Kingsville to work the King’s Ranch Exxon fields. I told my husband that as much as I love Kingsville, I would prefer he commutes if he ever got transferred there. He was never transferred but, from time to time, we would make the drive there to the King’s Inn restaurant for their great seafood and “to die for” tartar sauce. (I was told that this is the original secret recipe. What do you think?)


1-1/2 cups salad dressing (Miracle Whip)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Jalapeño peppers to taste

4 boiled eggs, shredded


1/4 of 1 stack of crackers, crushed

2 ounces bell pepper, shredded

2 stalks celery, shredded

2 ounces garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS: Mix all ingredients and chill. My favorite mayonnaise-based recipe for fried fish or shrimp.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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