Fall is finally here, which means pumpkin everything. From scented candles to lattes, pumpkins are taking over. While some people may be sick of this gourd, I personally can’t get enough. One of my favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin is in soup form, and I want to share my go-to recipe with you all! The soup recipes I have often give my non-vegetarian family members the wrong idea. They see soup and instantly think we’re, somehow, dieting or that it won’t be enough to fill them up. Neither of those things is true! When they take that first dip of bread into this velvety pumpkin soup paired with sweet potato, you can see the change in their eyes. This soup is delicious on its own, but you could also dip some thick toasted slices of sourdough or Foccacia. I personally like to top it with a few croutons or roasted chickpeas, but that’s optional. My husband loves bacon, so he usually tops his with a generous amount of thinly sliced bacon. This pumpkin soup with sweet potato is a healthy and delicious recipe that everyone will love. The sweet potato and pumpkin work in tandem to create a delicious dish, while the ginger adds a pleasing touch of spice. Finally, add milk to the mixture prior to blending for a smooth and luscious pumpkin soup that will tantalize everyone’s taste buds. This five-star soup is simple to prepare, under 50 minutes from start to finish, and packed with good-for-you ingredients. Whether you’re aiming to ward off a cold or just relax on a cool autumn evening, this recipe will undoubtedly become one of your new favorites! If you’re still craving pumpkin and want a dessert to accompany your coffee, these cupcakes are an excellent choice.
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
Find out how veggie/pescatarian fooodlove cooks meat-based meals for her Greek family day-to-day, living in the UK!
This recipe for baked giant beans, or Gigantes Plaki in Greek, is a really flexible, useful one to have in your recipe bank! Gigantes are a really large variety of beans, known also as Butter Beans or Lima Beans. We buy them dried and soak them; these are my favourite to use in terms of flavour. Gigantes are a healthy addition to any diet, vegan, veggie or omnivore, as they are full of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, keeping you fuller for longer, and satisfied, too. In Greece, sausage or bacon can be added - I have seen it with chorizo, too - but you really don’t need to add any meat to end up with the perfect Gigantes recipe, in my opinion. This is a wholesome and hearty vegan recipe, which is perfect served up with some feta and bread for a filling, healthy meal - a great one to have to hand if you’re inviting vegan guests over (minus the feta, of course!). It’s also a tastier (and much healthier) substitute for a tin of baked beans, so you can use it in the same way you would with those, too. Take your giant baked beans in tomato sauce and put them on top of a baked potato instead of the branded variety for an easy supper; you’ll be getting lots of extra veg and a lot less sugar than in the tinned stuff. Greek Gigantes are easily found in Greek food delis and in some supermarkets now, but butter beans will work for this recipe too.
This crustless zucchini pie is the perfect lunch for a sunny day in the garden. The recipe originally comes from a friend in Crete. It’s both easy, and a great way to use up the glut of courgettes we seem to enjoy every July and August! Accompanied by a side salad (and maybe a chilled glass of white wine!), this courgette tart is so savoury and satisfying. The feta, parmesan and eggs give it that cheesey, almost quiche-like consistency, whilst the grated courgette/zucchini and the fresh herbs give it a real green vibrancy and fresh taste. Since it’s without a crust, it’s a really healthy, light option too. I’ve even been known to wrap the whole thing in tin foil and take it to the park for a picnic - and you can be sure that none ever comes back!
As the only vegetarian in the family (and I don’t just mean out of my husband and daughters - I mean every family member on both sides!) it sometimes seems like I can be an extra burden when it comes to catering. But I always tell everybody, I love mezedes! Those Greek side dishes you might order in a taverna are usually precisely what I want - this way I get many tastes of many delicious dishes. Forget the ‘mains’! This egg salad with shredded carrots was made by my sister for me at one of these family gatherings. Now, ‘egg salad recipe’ might not be your first Google search - but you have to give this a go! It’s a fresh, hearty, and super-tasty side salad that can easily function as a full meal when you want something lighter.
This ham and cheese pie is a homemade version of something you often find in Greek bakeries and pastry shops. It’s a great snack that I include in the kids’ lunch boxes to mix things up, but it’s also a yummy afternoon snack for me and perfect finger food for a birthday party, or picnic. The ham and cheese pie crust of flaky, buttery puff pastry adds a little crunch on top, whilst the mouthwatering filling of slightly herby tomato, ham and cheese ticks all the boxes for kids and adults alike! You can enjoy this hot or cold, but make sure to indulge in good quality ham - this is a simple recipe, so the flavour of the ingredients makes all the difference. 😊
I don’t know about you, but sometimes food goes down a lot better when it seems like a ‘treat’! These healthy banana oat pancakes are a real ‘treat’ - but nutritionally they’re good for you too, so it’s a win-win! Banana pancakes were always a weekend treat in our house, so I wanted to combine that ‘special’ breakfast feeling with something healthy and full of goodness that you really can enjoy everyday. Featuring oats for slow release energy as well as protein from egg and the natural sweetness of banana, these pancakes really will set you up for the day! Enjoy with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt on the side, and some fresh berries (we might take it back up to ‘treat’ territory with a drizzle of maple syrup on top!)
These orange & vanilla braided cookies are a traditional Greek Orthodox Easter recipe. Originally from Smyrna, they are known as “koulourakia smyrneika”, and are gifted to friends and family over the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations. Greek Easter (later than Western Easter, because we follow the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian!) is a BIG celebration in Greece. Many families head home to their family islands or villages for big get-togethers. After traditionally being abstemious throughout Lent, Easter is truly a celebration. The table groans under a sumptuous feast - often featuring a roast lamb as centrepiece. These Smyrna cookies are traditionally made on Thursday and enjoyed when the Easter festivities kick off. We often gift them to friends and family, too! Don’t keep these Koulourakia Smyrneika for Greek Easter, though - cook a batch up and take a little bagful to a friend’s house as a treat or dinner party ‘thank you’ present. They’re a super gift!
Tsoureki is a traditional Greek sweet bread, customarily made around Easter, as the three braided strands signify the Holy Trinity. Sometimes it is cooked with a whole egg on top, or is stuffed with chocolate and/or chestnut - but I find my recipe below the most flavourful. We enjoy it year-round, not just for Easter, as it’s the perfect mid-morning snack, enjoyed with a little jam or Nutella! This recipe is not complicated - but it does take a little time, as there are several steps and the dough needs time for leavening. Don’t try to cook this in a rush - it’s one to do when you have a spare morning. The result is worth every moment spent, I assure you! This recipe really is distinctly Greek, and that’s mostly down to two defining ingredients - mahleb and mastic. You may have to source these online or at a Greek deli. Mahleb is a beautifully aromatic spice, made from the seeds of a species of cherry (the Prunus Mahaleb). Mastic meanwhile is a chewy and refreshing ancient resin, derived from the Pistacia Lentiscus tree, grown on the Greek island of Chios. Mastic is the root of the English word “masticate” - to chew! (It’s a very different type of ‘mastic’ to that which builders use here in the UK! haha)
This is my father-in-law’s secret recipe for “mpiftekia”, or burger patties. When we call something a burger in Greece, we’re specifically talking about the mince meat patty in a bread bun. “Mpiftekia” though is just the “burger patties” - very much a meal in themselves - which we eat with different sides. Our favourite way to eat these is alongside my mashed potato. Whilst my father-in-law considers these the perfect meze, they’re a full-blown meal for us! There are so many ways to make a burger patty. For us, a successful result is soft, juicy, and not too crumbly. His secret to this is to add a shredded tomato for moisture. What’s more, my father-in-law’s method, as you’ll see below, is to add wine at the last minute. This transforms their flavour completely!
Over lockdown we got bored of the same old breakfasts. Since I no longer had to make food to such strict time deadlines, with school now taking place in our own home, I took to experimenting with new recipes and flavours to up the ante on the first meal of the day. These pepperoni and cheese puffs are the result of that experimentation! We really enjoy savoury things for breakfast in our house, and eggs are always a go-to, but the slightly spicy, rich pepperoni alongside flavoursome cheese and buttery, flaky pastry have made this a new hit! This recipe could easily work for a lunchtime or afternoon snack, too - or even as finger food for a buffet or party.
This whole wheat breadsticks recipe is what we use to keep hunger at bay in our house! Instead of a bag of crisps, we’ll nibble on a wholegrain breadstick whilst watching TV, or whilst dinner cooks in the oven. They’re a healthy snack that satisfy my need to nibble, without ruining my appetite. I use them to help steer away from unhealthy treats whilst watching TV. They’re also great to put on the table at a dinner party instead of bread rolls, or to go with a meze / antipasti-style meal. Wrap parma ham around the end for a tasty starter, or serve a dip or two to accompany the breadsticks - they go perfectly with my Spicy Feta Dip. Called “kritsinia” in Greek, they are a popular snack at all times of the day. They’re even enjoyed with a coffee at breakfast time. Similar to Italian grissini breadsticks, the kritsinia will be crunchy and biscuity, with that breadstick ‘snap’. If you prefer a crunchy exterior but soft inside, make your breadsticks thicker.
This simple and satisfying supper is one of the first “proper” meals I cooked for my husband when we got married! I had always been confident with all the egg options (always a go-to for our breakfasts), but I tended to stick to the safety of easy pasta dishes for dinner. So, I got this chicken with veggies recipe from my mom. And we’re still married…coincidence? Perhaps not! Haha! I’d say this recipe marks the beginning of my journey into love - for family, for food, and for cooking. This recipe for chicken with veggies is a similar dish to the chicken and red pepper mix that works so well in chicken fajita recipes - so there’s another serving option for you! We like to have it served simply with basmati rice. It’s a brilliant midweek meal, featuring lots of healthy lean protein as well as plenty of veg, for a really balanced meal. It’s pretty quick and easy, too. You can even enjoy it with rice one night and as the filling for chicken fajitas the next! I love batch cooking, as a great way to make sure my family has plenty of great food to eat through the week, without having to stand at the stove for ages every night.