I’ve been to Greece before, and one of the things I was most looking forward to about returning here was the cuisine and enjoying my favorite greek foods and recipes. Fresh, local and fabulous, it’s easy to see how healthy the Mediterranean diet is. Copious amounts of olive oil, ocean to plate seafood, salty mouth-watering feta, and produce from local growers including gorgeous red and yellow tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, purple eggplant, greens, beets, onions, potatoes. Lemons, limes, pomegranate and other seasonal fruit figure prominently.
What’s not to like?
My favorite greek foods and recipes were enjoyed in restaurants on Antiparos, Mykonos, Paros and Santorini. I have enjoyed squid several times, it’s best I think when simply grilled with lemon and olive oil. I’ve also had octopus with orzo (tasted very much like a risotto) and lamb souvlaki. We’ve tried dolmades (I love these lovely little lemony pockets of deliciousness and have made these at home several times), anchovies, sardines and fried cheese called saganaki. We also enjoyed moussaka, pastitsio, rabbit stew and many choices of salads.
I usually like to take a cooking class in every country I visit. But here on tiny Antiparos there is no such thing. So instead I have set out to cook several Greek recipes I’ve found on (where else) Pinterest. Everything from sandwiches to salads to spanakopita has made its way out of our Airbnb kitchen these past three weeks. So here are my successes (and one fail) from my self-taught Mediterranean Highlights Menu from Antiparos.
My Favorite Greek Foods and Recipes;
In most restaurants you can find many choices of salads. Most popular are Eggplant Salad, Tomato Salad and of course, Greek Salad.
Greek Salad is fairly simple and usually includes the following ingredients; feta, olives, tomato, red onion, capers and cucumber. Sometimes it will have lettuce, but the Greek way is without lettuce. The dressing is olive oil (of course), lemon, salt and pepper.
Chickpea Salad is also very popular. Chickpeas grow in abundance in the mediterranean region. Chickpeas find their way into many recipes, not the least of all being hummus. This salad I made included lots of delicious fresh veg as well as the chickpeas. I had left over chicken from our Greek Chicken (see below) so I shredded that and added it to the salad. It was delicious served with the fried eggplant chips.
In Greek small bites or appetizers are known as mezes. You will often find mezes on menus to be served with a glass of wine. You can also enjoy mezes before your meal. We ordered several mezes when we ate out and especially liked saganaki (a fried cheese), octopus in vinegar, and bujurdi an incredible cheesy dip. So I decided to tackle bujurdi. It’s amazing. Try it.
Spanokopita has always been one of my favorite Greek dishes. And it is so easy. Don’t fear the filo! It is very easy to work with. Spanakopita has simple ingredients; filo (purchase it ready-made fresh or frozen), spinach, onions, feta and dill. Bake and enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
For lunch one day we ate the most delicious, and very filling, Greek Sandwich. This sandwich could easily be dinner, with a side salad or dolmades which is how I served it. It’s a very tall sandwich, so be sure to get nice fresh bread that can hold up to the numerous ingredients. I will definitely make this recipe again.
At most of our lunches we ate very simple mezes of canned sardines (so many choices available in the store) or fresh anchovies in oil and lemon along with pita, hummus, feta, olives, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber and fruit. A very simple and easy meal and totally satisfying. Here in Antiparos we have really fallen in love with lemon hummus. Bright and nutty and delicious.
Most any country you travel to you can find a version of roast chicken, and since we were blessed with an oven in this Airbnb I was well prepared to try this recipe. We purchased a beautiful plump and organic locally grown chicken and with some simple herbs and lemon, created a fantastic dish. We had left overs for two additional meals. I served the chicken with a warm potato salad with feta.
I’ve always been one to experiment boldly in the kitchen, and I tackled a full Greek meal for guests when I was just 23 years old and we were first married. This was my first attempt at moussaka. It was a smashing success and I have made it many times over the years (35 years since!). So cooking it here in Greece seemed appropriate, even though we had enjoyed it in a restaurant. This recipe gave us lots of left overs.
I didn’t make any desserts but I must mention how much the Greeks like their sweets. Fortunately (or unfortunately I’m not sure) the little village here in Antiparos has an amazing bakery…which we visited several times. Of course you know baklava, but there are many other cookies, pastries, custards, pies and amazing bread available fresh every day. We made a point to partake – of course all in the name of research!
The Big Fail
I love seafood, but I admit, it can be difficult to cook. I wanted to grill a whole fish on our BBQ, but the wind has been so high we couldn’t use the grill. We bought a whole fish, frozen, because the fishmonger has closed for the season. I think that was our biggest mistake. It just didn’t smell or taste fresh. Despite the deliciously fresh herbs (dill and parsley) and lemon and garlic we stuffed the fish with – we hated it. I didn’t even eat mine. I think the recipe isn’t at fault here – or the cook for that matter. The fish wasn’t fresh and so it was a fail.
We haven’t eaten out much during our time in Antiparos, and now many of the local restaurants have closed for the season. But we enjoy creating in the kitchen, and we have learned a lot about the local cuisine in doing so.
So there you have it! My favorite Greek foods and recipes. Fabulous Greece. Fabulous Food. Fabulous Life. Opa!
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