Last updated on October 23rd, 2020 at 06:01 pm
One of the things that draw me back to Greece time and again, aside from the sunshine, culture, and friendly people, is the food.
The Greeks know how to eat, and the freshest ingredients are combined with an indulgent flare to create hearty, rustic dishes that you’ll be raving about.
Mezze, the Greek small-plate tradition, allows for plenty of experimentation, and of course, with 8500 miles of coastline, you’ll discover some fantastic seafood.
Here are eight of my favorite Greek dishes that you have to try.
This mouth-watering dip is always a huge hit when it comes out to the table.
Greek dining experiences are built around sharing food, so it’s not unusual to see a table jam-packed with small plates – this is known as mezze – and everyone reaching over each other to get to their favorites!
The unique food culture of Greece is so wrapped up in community and family, and taramasalata evokes all these things for me.
Tarama is the Greek word for cured cod roe and this forms the base of the dip. Combined with quality Greek olive oil and flavored with lemon juice and garlic, the result is a creamy and moreish dip that’s perfect for spreading on bread or dipping sweet crispy carrots and other vegetables.
Dolmades are sometimes known to Western audiences as grape leaves or vine leaves, and these bite-size morsels come perfectly sized.
The Greeks don’t let any part of the grape plant go to waste, and as the grapes themselves are being turned into fine red wine, the vine leaves are parceling up a mixture of herby rice and other ingredients.
Always oily and always delicious, sometimes dolmades consist of nothing more than a bite of perfectly cooked rice filled with dill and lemon juice.
At other times you’ll find minced lamb, beef, and pork packaged up. Dolmades can be dipped in the yoghurty dip tzatziki, and as with many Greek favorites these are perfect for sharing.
The reigning king of Greek desserts, baklava is a firm favorite across the region and its popularity extends into Romania to the north and Turkey to the east.
“This extravagant dessert is still a quintessentially Greek experience for me,” says Francis Montura, travel blogger at Gum Essays, “and I’ve finished many indulgent evenings with sticky fingers thanks to baklava.”
Folded layers of crispy phyllo pastry, filled with sticky syrup or honey, packed with nuts and flavored with cinnamon, baklava is always an irresistible treat after a big Greek feed.
The whole table will be eager to get stuck in as its sweet cinnamon aroma fills the room.
Moussaka is the Greek dish that has made its way into kitchens around the world and it’s now a firm favorite outside of Greece.
Yet an authentic moussaka, served up steaming hot in a Greek taverna, is hard to beat for me.
This is rustic and hearty fare – food for hard-workers, and if you’ve got achy feet from exploring the Parthenon in the noon-day sun, sit back and enjoy a big dish of moussaka. You’ll have earned it.
Moussaka consists of layers of eggplant and minced lamb, combined with onions, garlic, tomato, and spices including cinnamon.
This layered dish is topped with a creamy bechamel sauce to create an Athenian take on the lasagne.
Don’t forget to ask for the recipe because this can be recreated at home to relive the flavors of Greece.
This classic Greek starter is a great excuse for a little indulgence.
Saganaki consists of fried cheese cooked into a crispy state, and the combination of a snappy outer layer and the gooey insides will always kickstart your appetite.
Saganaki is found all over Greece and it’s so popular it’s simply named after the small pan in which the cheese is fried. The pan and the dish have become inseparable.
Saganaki can be made with feta or halloumi, and sometimes you’ll find it cooked with shrimp, tomato, or topped with sliced cucumber.
This is a simple, versatile dish and there are many regional variations, but ultimately, it’s all about the cheese. A squeeze of fresh lemon on top gives it a tart kick. This will become your staple starter!
Donuts may not be what springs to mind when you think of an athlete’s diet, but the history of loukoumades – crispy, rustic Greek donuts – tells a different story.
These sweet desserts are first documented as fuel for the Olympians almost 3000 years ago. But whether you’ve spent your day taming lions, javelin throwing, or simply sight-seeing, loukoumades are for you.
These are dough balls fried until they’re crisp and golden and usually flavored with cinnamon and sugar for a delectable treat.
You’ll spot these all over Athens from street food stalls, and you’re never likely to be too far from a loukoumades vendor.
Octopus is popular all over the world, but the Greek’s emphasis on freshness makes it an unmissable experience for your time in Greece.
Fished from the Ionian and the Aegean, the Greeks pride themselves on sea-to-table service and most likely you’ll be eating octopus fished that morning by local fishermen.
Octopus is usually grilled, giving it a barbecue feel and the tough flesh becomes succulent and delicious as it’s licked by flames.
Seek out the classic fish taverns known as psarotavernes for a quintessential Greek octopus experience.
Another way to cook Octopus is the one used in Corfu, it is called Octopus Bourdeto.
Nothing to do with grilling, but is cooked with onions and lots of red pepper with potatoes. It’s a dish with a unique taste.
8) Fresh Fish
This one may not be a specific dish, but I would encourage you to take advantage of that and try the variations on the theme.
Fresh fish in Greece is a spectacular experience and you’ll find the freshest fish cooked to perfection time and again.
Freshly caught fish are inexpensive along the Greek coastline and topped with herbs, and lemon, you’ll remember the fish you eat in Greece for your whole life.
Fish of the deep Mediterranean sea as Scorpions can be cooked in the traditional Corfiot way, Bourdeto, the same as Octopus, a very spicy and tasteful dish.
The Mediterranean flavors of Greek cuisine are mouth-watering and the combination of freshness, thanks to ingredients such as dill and lemon combine so well with hearty fare.
The mezze culture of Greek cooking makes every meal a communal experience. Yamas!
Ashley Halsey is a writer at https://luckyassignments.com. She loves food, travel, and more than anything the combination of these two things. She sees food as offering a unique insight into place and culture, as well as an opportunity to indulge her sweet tooth.