Greece is known to have one of the healthiest diets in the world. With dishes that are full of vegetables, herbs, olive oil, grains, fish, and last but not least, wines, it is also one of the tastiest! If you are traveling there for a getaway, an internship abroad, or because you are lucky enough to live in Greece for any amount of time, you will want to make sure to check out a few of these must have dishes while visiting the country.
Tzatziki is a staple in greek cuisine. It is always served cold and often as a side dish or an appetizer with bread. The main ingredient for the light yet creamy dip is yogurt, which is mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, and dill, mint, or parsley. It is a great accompaniment to any Greek meal.
2. Souvlaki Sandwich – Gyro
A perfect lunch during a day of visiting the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, or exploring the Meteora monasteries in central Greece. Souvlaki sandwiches are made up of warm pita bread stuffed with grilled meat, tomatoes, and onions then drizzled with tzatziki. A tasty treat to get you through the day and easy to carry too.
A very popular casserole main dish in Greece, it is often times made by layering vegetables and meats and topping it with a sauce to bring the flavors together. There are endless possibilities of types of moussakas. However, some of the most commonly found are made with slices of eggplant, cheese, and a heavy meat sauce or potatoes, zucchini, and vegetables.
Layers of flaky phyllo pastry, stuffed with baby artichokes, leeks, green onions, and flavorful Greek cheese create this flavorful cuisine. The dish is baked to perfection in order to achieve a flaky, golden brown crust. This dish can be served as a main course or as a pairing to an entrée.
5. Greek Salad
This is the perfect dish for a hot summers day in the Mediterranean. Greek salads are made up of juicy chunks of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, peppers, and doused in olive oil, vinegar, feta cheese, and, of course, black olives. Such a light dish that is bursting with flavor! Enjoy with warmed pita bread and hummus or tzatziki. Yum!
If you enjoy eating salads but often find that you are still hungry after consuming them, Dakos might be the dish for you. This is a bread salad which consists of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese. All of those delicious ingredients sit on top of slices of soaked dried bread. This dish is often referred to as the “Greek’s bruschetta.”
7. Arni A La Hasapa
Baked lamb and tomatoes are brought together for this delight. Greek food isn’t complicated by too many herbs or ingredients. They enjoy the true fresh flavor of the food by simplifying their recipes. For this dish, the ingredients are baby lamb chops, olive oil, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Perfection.
8. Chtapodi sti schara
Being so close to the sea, any visitor to Greece should sample the ample and high quality seafood dishes. Many Greeks include a variety of fresh fish in their dishes. One popular seafood dish that needs to be tried is Chtapodi sti schara: octopus grilled, cooked or charcoaled, and lightly seasoned with lemon or olive oil, garlic and red wine. Many people enjoy trying octopus for the first time during their time in Greece. It is, however, not for everyone as it does have a unique taste and texture. But, give it a try; you only live once!
Mezés are small dishes that are served as a meal to complement the taste of the drink, whether it is wine, ouzo, or another favorite. Mezés are different from appetizers as appetizers are meant to wet your taste buds and get your stomach ready for the main entrée. Mezés is meant to be the complete meal. This style of eating allows for an environment of conversation, sharing, and laughter. It is great for social gatherings or family meals.
The small dishes all depend on the chefs preference. Some typical combinations include: hummus (dip made from chickpeas), falafel (ground chickpeas balls which are deep fat fried), baba ghanoush (eggplant mashed with a variety of seasonings), tzatziki, afelia (diced pork seasoned with coriander and marinated in wine), and muhammara (hot peppers with ground bread crumbs, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil).
There are so many delicious delicacies that Greece has to offer and they must all be tried! Baklava, one of the most known Greek desserts, consists of layers upon layers of phyllo pastry filled with honey and nuts. It pairs wonderfully with coffee. Galaktoboureko is a custard pie made of layers of phyllo pastry and creamy custard. Once baked, they are soaked in a lemon honey sauce. A very light, yet delectable, dessert is called yiaourti, which is simply Greek yogurt topped with honey and walnuts.