This is one of those go-to recipes that gets wheeled out for any and all occasions in our family, from birthdays to dinner parties! This coconut squares recipe is the perfect sweet finger food for kids and adult parties alike and is a real crowd-pleaser. These are basically coconut cake pops but without the added faff of making them round - you can always add a lolly stick to the cake bites before dipping into the chocolate and coconut if you want them to be on sticks, but there’s little point in all that extra hard work (plus the cake falls off the stick so easily!). As a kids party snack, you can even add different coverings (the cake itself is a basic one which works well with all sorts of toppings, from sprinkles to chopped nuts). When serving these coconut cake morsels up to adults, you’ll find they disappear just as quickly - they’re the kind of sweet treat where you pop one in your mouth, intending to stop there, and soon discover you’ve demolished five without blinking! They’re great birthday cake bites for adults, to make the recipient feel indulged and treated, but without committing to the pressure of baking and decorating a whole birthday cake.
I have to come clean - this is a recipe I whizzed up for the family rather than for myself! Honestly, those stodgy, heavier desserts are not my favourite, but my daughters absolutely rave about rice pudding. They would always pester me to buy those premade tins of rice pudding at the supermarket. Since I know they’re not too healthy, I reluctantly decided to come up with my own recipe! This isn’t a baked rice pudding recipe, which has that controversial skin on top that so splits opinion (I am against it! But I know that’s some people’s favourite part)! But a nice, soft and creamy stove-top vegan rice pudding. That’s right - vegan! But I promise, you won’t even notice the absence of dairy… If your kids love rice pudding too, they won’t be let down by this alternative - don’t worry, it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’! Being a vegan option too, it’s a great one to have up your sleeve - and it also works with other plant milks, as long as they’re nice and rich. Why not experiment with a coconut milk rice pudding, or hazelnut milk, for example? I particularly enjoy that slightly nutty taste that a nut milk adds, and a non-dairy rice pudding still feels just as luxurious as a full-fat cow’s milk option.
This recipe was cooked for us by some dear friends from Rhodes, when they visited us right before COVID kicked off and changed our lives! As a chef and his partner, they fed us a selection of tasty treats during their stay - but this was our ultimate favourite, and one I just had to ask them for the recipe for. They are very generous, and shared the recipe with us in a heartbeat. My thanks to them, always! Lasagna (or Lasagne is correct, I think, in the UK and Europe) is heart-warming comfort food at the best of times. But this veggie-based spinach lasagna recipe, using the iron-packed and healthy spinach in place of mince, and the addition of that mouth-watering lime, makes this dish a whole different ball game! You still have that ultimate comfort dish - but with a twist. You know you’ve knocked it out of the park when the whole table goes quiet after that first mouthful, silently savouring the wonderful flavour explosion happening in their mouths! A healthy spinach lasagna is great to have in your repertoire as a veggie - but this lime-infused one is all the more special. We didn’t even have the fooodlove site back when they made this recipe for us - but it’s the best spinach lasagne recipe I’ve ever tried, and one I simply HAD to share with you guys onsite! I hope you adore it as much as we do.
I remember enjoying this at home in Rhodes through the summer as a child - with freshly-picked green beans from the garden, and even freshly picked tomatoes too! This stewed green beans dish (or Fasolakia Giaxni in Greek) is more than the sum of its parts, and is well worth incorporating into your recipe repertoire. The great news is that beans are now available all year round, frozen! And because tinned tomatoes are a perfect substitute for fresh ones here, this has really turned into almost a store cupboard dish, which I can conjure up whatever the season, whatever the weather. It can be grat to know you’ve got a veggie ‘store cupboard’ side, for when I’m due to go shopping and we’re almost out of fresh veggies. Fasolakia Ladera, or Green beans with oil, and the addition of tomatoes and herbs, makes simple freezer ingredients shine. This is one of those great vegetarian sides; it’s so complex in flavour despite the simplicity of making it. Green beans in tomato sauce is one to cook up as a side to accompany a special evening meal (or indeed, lunch in the sun, should you be so lucky!). Some pair the dish with beef, which is good for meat eaters, but I really don’t think it misses much through the absence of the meat here. Good quality olive oil is important too, as is the finely chopped sprinkle of herbs at the end - this really elevates all the flavours and melds them together perfectly.
Lent is traditionally a fasting period in Greece, where the Greek Orthodox church still has a lot of power over the country’s traditions. From Shrove Tuesday to Easter Sunday we traditionally wouldn’t eat dairy, as well as abstaining from meat and fish (but not shellfish). But that doesn’t mean no enjoyable meals! No, in fact a whole Greek cuisine has sprung up around the culture of fasting - Greek fasting food is called Ladera, or Lathera - food that is full of veggie and made with olive oil, containing no meat or dairy products. This is the healthy heart of the Mediterranean diet (although this recipe doesn’t necessarily uphold this principle!) This Greek semolina cake recipe is unusual, but very authentic and moreish - I definitely urge you to try it. So plenty of dairy-free cakes have sprung up over the centuries to ensure Lenten fasting is still a seasonal celebration. This semolina halva recipe is one of my favourite desserts, whenever I eat it, and it is dairy-free, egg-free and butter-free. Turns out a Greek halva dessert ticks all the boxes as a perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for any fasting or vegan visitors (and is completely glorious for anyone not sticking to any dietary exclusions, too)!
The Peinirli is a real favourite in our household. These are traditional Greek pizzas, shaped like little pizza boats. Slightly smaller than a regular Italian pizza, they’re perfect as a treat for one. They can carry all sorts of toppings, so are a favourite for all the various taste preferences in our family. It’s super-easy to rustle up a veggie option for me too, which makes life easier! Having to bake a meat-eaters meal and a veggie-friendly meal on top can sometimes just feel like a step too far! The peinirli origin story comes originally from Turkey. Turkish ‘pide’ are the same boat-shaped pizzas, and the Greek name ‘peinirli’ came from the Turkish word for cheese - ‘peinir’. Peinirli usually feature a basic cheese filling, to which you can add whatever you fancy - be that tomato, olive, onion, egg, spinach, ham or bacon…the options are about as endless as you can imagine toppings for an Italian pizza! When we return to Greece, Peinirli is one of our favourite bakery options (we mention it in our blog on the 7 must-eat Greek bakery bites). The kids (well, to be honest, my husband and I too, I suppose!) are often tempted to enjoy a Greek peinirli for our breakfast - it’s a popular choice!
Sun-dried tomatoes are an easy way to impart Mediterranean flavour. Here’s our easy and in-depth 'how to make' guide!
Why buy veggie burgers, with great lists of unknown ingredients, when making your own is so simple? That’s what I think anyway, since I tapped into this particular recipe. For me, an easy veggie burger has to provide a challenge to its meaty alternative, but I don’t want it to mimic beef, I want it to be different. This meatless burger will convert a few meat eaters at your barbecue - not because it ‘tastes like meat’ but because it’s a really tasty alternative, full of flavour. This is not just for barbecues, however. We end up having vegetarian patties as a midweek meal pretty often, because it’s not complicated and veggie burger patties always seem to go down well with the whole family. Because I use a combination of couscous and chickpeas instead of something like potato to bind the burger, the burger already contains a great amount of protein from the legumes, as well as carbs (and texture) from the couscous. Add to that the peas, corn, carrot and spring onion, and you basically have all the nutrition you need! For a light dinner, serve them up alone with a side salad or some fresh veg, or for something heartier add your burger to your favourite bread roll…we’ve even been known to accompany them with our oven-baked potatoes or oven-roasted chips!
Fooodlove combines the UK culture of afternoon tea with some Greek bakery favourites to give you a roster of exciting ideas for a Greek-inspired afternoon tea.
What’s a Greek carrot cake, I hear you ask? Well, for me, all things Greek use Greek yoghurt wherever possible! So yes, this is a carrot cake without cream cheese -I substitute in that tart, rich tang of Greek yoghurt instead, to make for a slightly healthy carrot cake, as well as a yummy one. That tart, sweet tang is literally ‘the icing on the cake’ when it comes to carrot cake - that vegetable, spiced moist batter is just complemented so perfectly by a tangy sweet frosting. Carrot cake might just be my favourite cake - and that’s saying something! Being wholemeal flour, as well as containing carrots, raisins, and walnuts as well as eggs and plenty of spices, I can convince myself that this indulgent treat is at least doing me a little bit more good than a decadent fudge cake, for example. Yoghurt icing for carrot cake isn’t completely pioneering - it really does mimic that slightly sour-sweet tang that cream cheese frosting delivers, but with the added goodness of Greek yoghurt. A creamy Greek yoghurt frosting is just as easy to make as a cream cheese one, and we are always more likely to have Greek yoghurt in the fridge - so it just makes this cake a real easy store cupboard bake for our household.
Sometimes indulgence is the only way forward, and this carb fest is a real treat! Makaronopita, or Greek pasta pie, uses indulgent pastry, pasta, evaporated milk and feta cheese to ensure no stone is left unturned on your journey to the ultimate in comfort food! You can use any type of pasta with this really, but the ones that work best are the small tubes called pasta for pastichio, or pastitsio, in Greek. It’s almost like a hollow spaghetti. But bucatini, macaroni, gomitini, or maybe a small rigatoni at a push, will work too! Using spaghetti emulates the longer strands but without that hollow centre, so makes for a Greek spaghetti pie would be much denser. The idea is to keep the pie full of air with the tubes, but also rich with that baked cheesy sauce. Makaronopita with filo on top is the ultimate in texture contrast too, as the soft pasta contrasts so well with the crunch of the crisp filo. That’s why I suggest cutting your pie into portion sizes before you bake it - otherwise you’ll shatter the filo when you try to serve it, and there’s nothing nicer than breaking that crisp top yourself! Serve up this Greek pasta bake with a nicely dressed side salad for a lunch or dinner (I love it with a zingy lemon dressing), or help yourself to an indulgent slice when those hunger pangs hit, mid-afternoon! This is cold weather comfort food, at its best.
These healthy blueberry muffins are a must for my daughters’ packed lunch boxes, or for those rumbling tummies at around 4 pm when dinner still feels far off. The wholegrain flour and oats make them more sustaining and low GI compared to white flour-based cakes, so your blood glucose levels don’t crash and burn like after a quick sugary snack. You can even substitute the quick oats for steel-rolled oats for even better slow energy release, but the texture is a little chewier - try half and half to begin with to make sure you like the substitution! These wholewheat berry muffins also work as healthy muffins for breakfast. We’re constantly running out of time in the mornings, and so I do like to have something on hand to push into a Tupperware for myself for later, or to give my daughters as they rush out of the door. This way I can make sure they’ll be eating something with slow energy release, protein, and even some fruit in it. Sure, these are cakes - there’s no avoiding that - but I feel much happier giving them these than the processed, sugar-filled breakfast ‘cereal bars’ that are another popular option. They’re also great to sub-in for a refined sugar sweet treat, as the aforementioned wholegrain content (the oats and the wholewheat flour) work together to make sure this sweet treat is sustaining as well as satisfying for that sugar craving. Give them a go - they might become your new favourite!
As you may know by now, I’m a veggie - but the rest of my family aren’t! Although they’re happy to eat tasty veggie meals a lot of the time, they sometimes ask for meat. So when they have a craving for meat-based products, I find chorizo an easy addition - it’s something I can have in the fridge and its flavour packs a punch. A little goes a long way, I find. These mozzarella and chorizo peppers are great quick and easy snacks to make with that bag of mozzarella cheese that you have in the fridge, and work well to ease those afternoon hunger pangs - what’s better for a meat eater than a mozzarella chorizo snack, after all? They’re pretty healthy too, so they’re a snack I’m happy to dole out to my daughters when they’re hungry after school. Because there’s the bell pepper and the tomato sauce it means they’re getting two portions of veg, and I often serve them up with an accompanying side salad for a light lunch or dinner, too - the pizza-like taste of the peppers means everyone’s happy to nibble up some accompanying greens without complaint! For a veggie version, I do mozzarella peppers for myself - still scrumptious. If you’re avoiding the chorizo, like me, or just fancy playing with the recipe, why not add a shake of paprika to the mozzarella for smokiness, or simply add a couple of basil leaves for that Mediterranean summertime taste?
This recipe is the perfect antidote to the January blues. Full of veggie goodness, as well as the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric, garlic, leeks and onions, it has the heartiness of lentils and that edge of warmth, from the chilli, which come together to create a ‘hug in a mug’, as the famous soup advert once said! This sort of recipe is perfect in a thermos flask to accompany you on a chilly walk, or in your kids’ pack ups - you can be sure they’re getting at least 3 or so of their ‘5 a day’ target, and will be satiated for the rest of the day with the slow, constant stream of energy released by the lentils. It’s a recipe I often turn to as a midweek dinner through January, too - served alone, or with a hunk of bread and a piece of cheese, this recipe is everything I feel like I need to warm the soul after a grey, drizzly, dark day! It’s quick to create - it really only takes a little bit of chopping - and is so worth every moment you spend on it. For a different, smooth texture, try blending all of the soup, or blend none of it and eat it more as a lentil stew. We prefer this half-and-half mixture, which creates a chunky soup. The choice is yours.
Fooodlove explore common phrases and idioms translated from English to Greek.
This simple and tasty feta pie is best straight from the oven, whilst it’s still crisp-edged, buttery, and warm. It’s a lazy pie; just a simple batter dotted with feta, which turns out the most mouth-watering results. It’s the kind of cooking I need sometimes - when you know you haven’t got much energy, but you really want to create something tasty, satisfying, and homemade. It’s a great ‘first pie’ or ‘first pastry’ for a new cook, too, as there are so few steps to consider. It depends on your larder, but as big feta fans in my household, this is basically a store cupboard pie, as I will always have the ingredients in my cupboards and fridge for an alevropita! The name translates as ‘flour pie’, as you just make a simple batter and dot this with feta and butter before baking. It’s important to follow step one, and get that tray into the oven before you start the recipe (though keep an eye on it, as you don’t want the fat getting too hot and burning) - because it’s that contact with a hot tray immediately that makes sure the thin batter gets a hit of heat from the start and creates those all-important crispy edges. This is a recipe that’s great at any time of day; a quick and easy breakfast, or a tasty lunch served with a side salad. For me it really comes into its own as a quick mezze to make to add to a table when you have guests coming round!
These spinach and feta galettes are a mouthwatering veggie breakfast, or lunch, to satisfy and satiate. They work year-round, too. In the summertime, send your kids off with a healthy last-minute breakfast to eat on the school bus, pack them up for a picnic in the park, or serve as part of a dinner al fresco. Stick them in your kids’ (or your own) packed lunch to break up the monotony of sandwiches and wraps. In the winter? For me, the winter is a time when I cannot handle a cold salad for lunch, but I don’t always fancy a soup, or a big meal. Ditto for breakfast - something slightly warmed through made from buttery pastry ticks all my boxes! These galettes are the perfect light lunch, served warm with a fresh green side salad and a few juicy cherry tomatoes. Who am I kidding, any savoury pastry tarts are a go-to for me through those chilly months! The cheesy, buttery savouriness of flaking pastry and salty cheese complements the iron green tang of the spinach perfectly. These pastry morsels feel indulgent and satisfying, but allow you to feel slightly healthy at the same time. Those two things together? That equates to my favourite type of meal!
Vasilopita is a Greek New Year cake, and an unmissable tradition! Cooked up throughout Greece, the texture is sometimes more bready, almost like my recipe for Tsoureki Easter bread. On Rhodes however, where I am from, the Vasilopita traditionally has a moist and cake-like crumb, as in this recipe, for a Vasilopita with hazelnuts. Greek Vasilopita cake hides a secret, however; this isn’t just cake! Much like a traditional Christmas pudding in the UK, it is customary in Greece to hide a (foil-wrapped!) coin inside the cake batter when you bake it. The lucky recipient of the slice of Vasilopita with a coin (called a ‘flouri’ in Greek) is considered to have received luck for the New Year ahead. In some houses, it’s even customary to give them a small gift, too! In our family, we always divide up the Vasilopita by the number of guests present at the table, to make sure that somebody definitely receives the lucky coin. You can imagine, though, that this method can sometimes result in rather large pieces of cake for everyone! Once the coin is found, many guests will stop eating their portion and cut their cake neatly. Then the remnants can be enjoyed the next day, with coffee (when you have a little more appetite!). Equally, we might crumble up the cake to use as the base for making Kariokes.
These deliciously soft and nutty butter cookies are a festive staple come Christmas time in Greece. Kourabiedes are basically Greek almond cookies. Of course, people always try alternatives, like replacing the almond with pistachio - but I have to say I prefer an authentic Kourampiedes recipe. As well as Kourabiedes, we make Melomakarona at Christmas - a honey-soaked orange and spice cookie. Together, these two make up a crucial Greek foodie Christmas tradition, so we always make plenty! They’re also the traditional gift of choice when you’re invited around to somebody’s house for a Christmas get-together or house party - instead (or as well as!) a bottle of wine, we will bake up a plate piled high with Melomakarona and Kourabiedes. The rose water is optional, but I love the slight floral note it adds. Make sure not to add too much, though, as if you’re heavy-handed it can add a medicinal flavour. Rose goes perfectly with the almond and vanilla flavours, though, so don’t miss it out unless you dislike it! This Kourabiedes recipe might be different from your traditional British or American Christmas sweet treats, as it doesn’t contain orange, spices or dried fruit. But I can guarantee you will love this; this is one Greek festive food tradition you simply have to try!