What Greeks Eat
Dec 17, 2019
Nothing says comfort food like delicious Greek meals. The taste, the aromas, the hearty goodness is tough to beat. If you’re wondering what do Greek people eat, and want to know more about the culture of authentic Greek cuisine, we’ve definitely got you covered.
We’ve compiled a short list of popular Greek foods and a few staple ingredients to keep on hand. Then, just to make things more helpful, we’ve even added a few recipes that you can whip up at home.
So, grab your apron, and pour some wine: Let’s get started.
Greek Foods and Staple Ingredients
The Greeks know how to live and eat well. Gathering around a traditional Greek table will offer lively conversation, plenty of laughter, and amazing food and wine. Here are some staples that you will need on hand if you want to prepare an authentic Greek meal:
Quality extra virgin olive oil — Whether you’re dressing a salad, cooking, or creating a sauce, this is a must-have Greek ingredient.
Fillo dough — A quick thaw from the freezer makes this flaky pastry dough the perfect ingredient to create an incredible dessert like baklava, or a savory pie like spanakopita.
Kalamata Olives — Served as an appetizer, tossed in a salad, or as an addition to a main dish, you can never have too many kalamata olives on hand if you’re planning a Greek dinner.
Garlic — Need we say more?
Herbs and Spices — Coarse sea salt and red pepper flakes are always needed. Fresh dill, oregano, mint, and parsley are also essential in any Greek kitchen.
Lamb — Fresh lamb as the main ingredient in a stew, or seasoned and grilled to perfection and placed inside a traditional gyro — simply delicious. If you’re not a fan of lamb, a roasted chicken is also a great traditional ingredient.
Pita Bread — More than an item for a gyro, pita is delicious eaten with cheese, or torn and dipped in fresh Tzatziki.
Feta — Served in a salad, cooked in a casserole, or made into a flavorful appetizer, keeping Feta on hand will pay off in any Greek kitchen.
Honey — Try it drizzled over a ripe pear, or upon a slice of cheese for a delightful surprise. And remember: Without honey, there’d be no Baklava. Keep a jar on hand, and you’ll be ready.
Greek Yogurt — there’s nothing quite like a good Tzatziki dip.
Fresh lemon — The juice is the perfect zip to bring out the best in many Greek dishes. And don’t throw away the zest. It will come in handy too
Fresh fruit — More than just a side note on a cheese platter, fresh fruit is often served for breakfast as well as a refreshing and light dessert.
Coffee and Wine — After dinner, coffee and wine served with meals brings out the best in delicious Greek cuisine. They also play a traditional role in lively table conversation— which is essential to any Greek gathering.
Here are a few easy to prepare Greek recipes:
Fresh Tzatziki Dip
2-3 medium garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium cucumber
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp Fresh dill—chopped finely
First, peel the garlic and chop it coarsely. Add salt and mash together until it becomes a smooth paste. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Peel the cucumber. Then remove all the seeds and slice in half lengthwise. Grate the cucumber or take a knife and mince it to a fine consistency.
Take the cucumber flesh and squeeze over a different bowl to drain out all the water. Throw away the juices. Then, add the cucumber to the garlic paste.
Now, add the yogurt, lemon juice, fresh dill, extra virgin olive oil, and pepper – mix thoroughly.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the flavors marry. This is a great dip for fresh vegetables, for pita slices, used as a dipping sauce for grilled lamb, or drizzled inside a flavorful gyro. Enjoy!
Ingredients for the Meat:
1 lb quality ground lamb (See recipe note for options)
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
3 cloves garlic (minced)
salt and pepper to preference
1 ¼ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
3 tsps. fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for the Gyro:
4 rounds of pita
4 lettuce leaves
1 sliced garden tomato
1 medium onion (sliced)
Tzatziki sauce (See recipe above)
Combine the meat ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge for about an hour to meld all the flavors.
Then, remove the meat mixture from the fridge and divide it into 4 parts. Create four individual oblong patties.
Grill the patties until done and the edges are crispy. (About 3-4 minutes on each side).
Building the Gyro
Place the lamb patties in the pita, add the tomatoes, onions, and lettuce, then drizzle with Tzatziki Sauce. Delicious!
Recipe Note: You can also use thinly sliced grilled lamb—instead of ground meat—for a more textured Gyro.
Ingredients for the baklava:
1 pound chopped nuts
1 pound filo dough
1 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp. ground cloves
Ingredients for the syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup quality honey
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Ground pistachios (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then lightly grease a 9×13 glass pan.
Thaw the filo dough according to the package directions. Then roll out the dough and slice it so the pieces fit in the pan. Cover with a damp towel, so the filo doesn’t become dry.
Place the nuts in a processor with the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and grind to small even pieces.
Melt the butter. Then, place a sheet of filo in the pan and brush with melted butter. Repeat, until you’ve reached 8 layers.
Evenly spoon on the nut mixture. Then add 2 more sheets of filo, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Continue the nut/filo process until both ingredients have been utilized.
With a sharp knife, cut the Baklava into 24 equal squares Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown with slightly crispy edges.
While the pastry is baking, make the syrup. Bring the syrup ingredient mixture to a boil on the stove. Then, lower the heat and simmer for about 6 minutes to thicken it a bit. Remove the cinnamon stick, and allow the sauce to cool.
Spoon the sauce over the baked Baklava, and let it cool for about 3 hours.
Garnish with crushed pistachios and indulge!
If you want an easy, delicious, and truly authentic Greek meal, you’ll love Lemon and Vine products. With items like savory spinach and feta Spanakopita, hearty Keftethes (Greek meatballs) and Pastichio (Greek lasagna), you can enjoy a taste of Greece, minus the airfare.
You’ll find us in your local grocer’s freezer section. And we’ve made it simple: All you have to do is pop our meals in the oven and open a bottle of wine. Your family and guests will appreciate our authentic recipes, top-notch ingredients, and our old world cooking style.