As Christmas approaches, I start to crave festive foods. I love all of the traditional Greek favorites, but sometimes my tastebuds crave something zesty and fresh. That’s why I always make sure to add this festive salad to my Christmas spread. It’s always a hit with my guests, and it’s the perfect way to balance out all of the heavy festive food. This festive pomegranate and apple salad is always a welcome addition to any holiday feast. The bright red pomegranate seeds and crisp apples add a festive touch, while the crunch of the vegetables provides a refreshing contrast to all the rich food. This salad is also very easy to make, so it’s perfect for busy holiday hosts. Whether you’re looking for a festive side dish or a refreshing start to your meal, this pomegranate and apple salad is sure to please. This festive-looking salad is a great way to use up seasonal ingredients like pomegranates and apples. Both fruits are available through the winter and spring, making this salad a great option for a Christmas or New Year’s meal. The zesty, juicy crunch of the pomegranate and apple pairs well with a roast joint of meat, such as ham. For vegetarians and vegans, this salad makes a great side dish to a tart such as my Spinach Tart. The bright colors and festive flavors of this salad will make it a favorite on your holiday table.
Pies are a cherished family tradition in our home - everyone has a soft spot for them! They make a great snack or packed lunch for my daughters. A while ago, I was making a pie with greens and somehow the stuffing ended up being quite runny. To prevent my phyllo pastry from becoming too soggy, I started looking for ingredients that could soak up the extra juices without affecting the recipe’s taste. I found that using semolina or bulgur was a suggested solution, so I decided to give it a try with the latter. Not only did my pie come out great, but the bulgur also gave me an idea for an entirely new vegetarian pie recipe! Bulgur is a whole grain that is made of several different types of wheat. It is often used in dishes like this veggie bulgur pie, where it is combined with vegetables and a sauce to create a hearty and satisfying meal. Bulgur is also high in fiber and protein, making it a healthy choice for anyone looking for a nutritious meal. It turns out that there are many bulgur pie recipes available, but the majority of them contain ground beef. I am vegetarian, so I decided to create a meatless version that is more appealing to my Mediterranean taste buds. This veggie bulgur pie with filo is a great way to turn ordinary vegetables into something special. It’s also quick and easy to make—all you need is some finely chopped fresh vegetables, bulgur, and a few pantry staples like Greek olive oil and herbs. The filling for this pie is then layered between layers of phyllo dough, and baked until golden brown. The bulgur pie crust exceeded my expectations! It was not only crispy and flaky like a classic pie crust, but the added texture from the bulgur gave it wonderful depth. The filling was also delicious carrying the bulgur’s nutty flavor. Paired with a crisp green salad or roasted vegetables, this veggie bulgur pie is a delicious and nutritious meal that the whole family can enjoy. This recipe makes twelve generous servings, and leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. So it’s perfect for busy weeknights or when you have unexpected guests over! Give this veggie bulgur pie a try and your taste buds will thank you. It’s a delicious way to enjoy whole grains and vegetables in one tasty dish. Enjoy!
I grew up steering away from Fava. I’m not entirely sure why, but I believe it has to do with children judging something without even giving it a chance. They see the world from a different perspective than adults and this can sometimes cloud their judgement. Especially when it comes to food. There are times when my daughters’ behaviour is so similar it drives me up the wall, but I always manage to get them to try something new! Funnily enough, at some point in my grown-up life, I ended up in a very picturesque Greek taverna in Ikaria that had a very limited set of appetisers. One of them was this gorgeous Fava in a little dish drizzled with olive oil and garnished with a few capers. It took me a few minutes to change my mind about not liking something I’d never tasted. I took a tiny amount of Fava and spread it on some bread, and my eyes literally lit up the moment it made contact with my tastebuds! How had I gone so long without trying this? Many people don’t realise that Fava is different from Hummus. Although they might look a bit alike, their taste is entirely different. The key difference between Hummus and Fava is that Hummus contains chickpeas while Fava’s primary ingredient is yellow split peas. While both yellow split peas and chickpeas are legumes, the former has a more unique flavour profile. Fava comes from Santorini and is typically prepared with Santorini Fava beans, but a trip to Santorini isn’t cheap these days. This is most likely why yellow split peas became the standard component in Greek restaurants serving Fava. Fava is not only delicious, but it’s also quite healthy since it includes a substantial amount of cholesterol-reducing fibres that keep fat molecules from entering circulation. This dish is simple to prepare, it requires only a handful of ingredients, and most importantly, it’s incredibly delicious! This is one of the most popular appetisers for a good reason.
Greece is known for its tasty vegetables and beetroots are no exception. Despite the funny colour, your tongue might get, I love having them in any way possible! My daughters also enjoy eating these healthy roots with me which just makes it all worthwhile. A simple method of preparing beetroots is to boil them until soft, then peel and cut them into large chunks. Drizzle them with high-quality Greek olive oil and you’ve got a great side for almost any meal! This is a great way to enjoy the natural sweetness of beets without sacrificing any flavour. However, when we combine the words beetroot and salad in my family, we’re talking about something quite distinct. A lot more delicious and capable of going with anything on the plate! In Greek, it’s called “Patzarosalata”. It’s a pretty common appetiser that you’ll find in most Greek restaurants and while the Greeks consider this dish to be salad rather than dip or spread; I would happily have it with crackers or a thick slice of sourdough! This simple beetroot salad is made with finely grated beets mixed with olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise and garlic. In my version, I substitute some of the mayonnaise with Greek yoghurt because I like its tanginess and to make it a little bit healthier. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese and a handful of crushed walnuts on top of the dish to add more saltiness and flavour. The feta and walnuts, while not part of the original recipe, add an interesting twist to this vegetable combination. This Patzarosalata recipe is incredibly easy to make, and it’s guaranteed to impress everyone with its vibrant colours and beautiful presentation!
These feta eggplant roll-ups are a Greek version of the classic Italian dish aubergine parmigiana - but using feta instead of parmesan and mozzarella! It’s one of those Greek meze dishes we almost always order in tavernas to make sure there are a few vegetarian options for me (yes, I’m the only vegetarian in the family!). The eggplant is first roasted until soft, then rolled around a filling of feta, tomatoes and herbs. These little rolls are baked until the feta is melted and bubbly, and they make the perfect appetiser or light main course. This is a brilliant vegetarian dish with which to celebrate the simple pleasures of Mediterranean produce in the summer. Those fresh, ripe tomatoes and glossy, curvy aubergines, almost bursting from their skins. The slow-cooked pleasure of tomatoes with olive oil, onions and garlic. This is the best of Mediterranean simplicity. There are only a handful of ingredients, but this truly is such a satisfying, hearty, smile-inducing dish. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try out, and when I came across this one for eggplant roll-ups, I knew I had to give it a go. This side dish quickly became one of the standard things we order when visiting a greek taverna. The fact that it’s so easy to make at home, gives it a few extra points and also added eggplant to my weekly supermarket list. I hope you enjoy 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!
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.
Fooodlove explore common phrases and idioms translated from English to Greek.
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!
Check out fooodlove's blog on the best items you have to try in a Greek bakery.
This traditional Greek Christmas recipe is a must-bake in our household come Christmas time, infusing the house with that festive scent of baking, orange, cinnamon and spices. It’s also our go-to gift, when visiting friends and family over the festive period. Instead of a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers, we tend to create a plateful of Melomakarona and Kourampiedes to take round for the host (sometimes there’s a bottle of wine too, of course!) These Greek Christmas cookies take their name from a mixture of ‘meli’ - honey, and the ancient Greek word ‘makaria’ - blessed. With that kind of meaning, you can see the reason that they’re a central part of foodie Greek Christmas traditions (as well as for their taste, of course). Once soaked in honey, these biscuits are moist, flavoursome and gently spiced - in short, the perfect Christmas mouthful. In some regions Melomakarona are known as Finikia, but occasionally recipes for Finikia ask you to deepfry them instead of oven bake them. Don’t worry about making too many - they always get eaten one way or the other. Traditionally, we use any Melomakarona crumbs to make these walnut-filled Kariokes! These are a great Christmas dessert, or an addition to your midmorning cup of coffee - it’s Advent, after all, so it’s time to indulge! I love to sit down in a cosy chair for ten minutes and eat a honey cookie, taking in a moment’s quiet during the festive rush. I highly recommend it!
This Mediterranean-style Shakshuka was actually thought out by my husband! He is not often found cooking, but he hit on a real win with this simple Shakshuka recipe when I was too tired and busy to cook one day, back in Rhodes. We call it Greek Shakshuka; I don’t think that’s a real thing, but he took the shakshuka ingredients and added Greek staples so that’s what it became! What is Shakshuka? Shakshuka is a popular dish originating from North Africa, which has been popular with the Israeli community and Jewish diaspora, bringing it to brunch menus across the globe over the past decade or so. Broadly, Shakshuka consists of eggs poached in a tomato sauce, with vegetables, herbs and spices. We love our roster of Mediterranean egg recipes, so we had to somehow work this popular North African dish into the Mediterranean canon! To do this we keep it simple - tomatoes, feta and egg are the primary tastes here. This is perfect for a light lunch or supper with a side salad, this is, however, a go-to brunch dish, served with a side of toast. It’s a flexible recipe, too, so if you want to add a few herbs and spices, and even extra veg, be my guest. This is our recipe - feel free to tweak it until you have your own! We have this at least once a month for a comforting, sustaining and satisfying brunch.
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