Authentic Greek food is famous for being incredibly healthy. It is based on simple yet flavorful ingredients such as honey, yoghurt, wheat, fish, meat and vegetables. One of the most common ingredients in use since ancient times is olive oil. Greece is also known for its cheeses, like Feta, Batzos and Graviera.
From the Roman invasion of Greece in 146 BC, Greek cuisine has been influenced by other cultures. In the following decades, Turkish, Venetian, Slav and also English influence mingled with traditional Greek food to create delicious and unique dishes. Here are some dishes of authentic Greek food you have to try.
This baked Greek dish is one of the most famous. Moussaka is made with layers of fried eggplant, minced meat, potatoes, pureed tomato, and onion. It is covered with a creamy and cheesy béchamel sauce. Baked until golden brown, versions of this dish can also be found in Turkey and the Middle East. Vegetarians can opt for a meatless version.
2Horiatiki Salata (Greek Salad)
The traditional Greek salad is both healthy and delicious. While there are many variations, it usually does not use lettuce. Instead, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and bell peppers are mixed with olives and hot peppers. It is seasoned with salt, oregano, olive oil and crumbled feta cheese.
This egg-shaped Greek dessert is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. They are usually made around Christmas and are prepared with flour, olive oil, and honey. Orange zest, ground walnuts, cognac, and cinnamon can also be added before it is baked and covered in a sweet syrup and more walnuts.
4Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Authentic Greek food is full of pies made with filo (or phyllo) pastry. The most common is the spinach filled spanakopita. In addition to spinach, the flaky pastry is stuffed with feta cheese and dill. It is usually eaten as a snack or an appetizer.
Baklava is one of the most popular Greek desserts. It is also found across Turkey and the Middle East. This pastry is layered with crushed nuts before being soaked in a honey-like syrup. In different parts of Greece, different nuts are used. In central Greece baklava is filled with almonds; in the east with walnuts, and in northern Greece with pistachios.
6Fasolada (Bean Soup)
This healthy white bean soup is filled with vegetables, olive oil, herbs and of course the nutrition-rich dry white beans. It is a signature food in almost all Greek houses and is even called the “national food of the Greeks”. Sometimes also called fasolia, it has its origins in Ancient Greece and variations can be found in Turkey (kuru fasulye), the Middle East (fasoulia), Italy (fagiolata), Spain (fabada) and Romania (fasole),
This delicious sweet pie is made with semolina custard and filo pastry. It is often had for breakfast, and it can also be filled with cheese or meat. The sweet version is lightly dusted with sugar and cinnamon. It is quite similar to the galaktoboureko. This is also a custard wrapped in filo, though it is additionally soaked in lemon juice.
8Taramasalata (Fish Roe Dip)
Greek dishes are often incomplete with delicious dips. While tzatziki and hummus are well known, there are many others. Taramasalata is a creamy savoury dip made with fish roe, bread, olive oil, and onions. Lemon juice is added to make it tangy. Another delicious dip is melitzanosalata. It is made with red onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. Both are served with bread.
These bite-sized balls of fried dough are a beloved Greek treat. A bit like a doughnut, they are crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. They are dipped in honey syrup and sprinkled with various toppings such as crushed walnuts or cinnamon.
Dolmades is a healthy appetizer made with grape leaves stuffed with spices, rice, and herbs. The bite-sized leafy packets are then steamed. They can also be filled with meat.
This popular Greek dessert is a pastry resembles shredded wheat that is filled with nuts. The rolled up pastry is baked and then soaked in sweet syrup. Its threadlike strands are delicious but quite messy to eat.
12Gyro and Souvlaki
This kebab like Greek sandwich is popular all over the world. The meat is roasted on turning vertical spits (gyro). Slices are served in a pita with salad, onions and a variety of sauces. The equally popular souvlaki (pictured)is quite similar. It consists of skewers of meat served with tzatziki, pita bread, salad or rice.
The perfect Greek dish is completed with Greek wine. Dating back over 6,500 years, Greek wines are considered among the best in the world. Try the traditional Retsina; the herb-rich Ouzo; Tsipouro, a strong pomace brandy; Limnio an ancient red wine, and Chios Masticha, a liqueur flavoured with mastic oil.
Thanks to one of the oldest culinary traditions, Greek foods have everything from meat, fish, vegetable and of course the cheese. The never-ending choices of Greek food can satiate both those who love sweet and savoury foods.