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Five Easy Summer Recipes With a Greek Spirit

Mussels Saganaki
Mussels saganaki goes well with toasted bread slices to dig into the rich tomato sauce. Credit: C messier / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Multifaceted, bright, refreshing like the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, Greek cuisine has won millions of hearts all over the world.

Traditional Greek dishes along with ancient historical sites have become one of the attractions of the country. Thanks to the vibrant mix of well-balanced natural tastes, Greek cuisine attained second place in world rankings.

Many nutritionists recommend the Mediterranean diet based on the principles of this cuisine.

Greek dishes are a true salvation for hot summer days. Easy to make, healthy, and at the same time delicious and filling, these recipes are perfect for anyone who wants to experience the gastronomic spirit of Greece at home.

Five Easy Greek Recipes For the Summer

1. Gemista

Gemista, or stuffed vegetables, is made from simple and affordable ingredients. The dish is very juicy, light, and energizing. Most often, the tomatoes and bell peppers are used for the filling, but eggplant and zucchini are also suitable.

When choosing vegetables, their size plays an important role. It is better to choose large tomatoes and peppers, so it will be easier to stuff them later.

As for the filling, gemista is equally good both in a vegetarian form and with minced meat. In any case, there will also be rice with vegetables inside, which will make the dish juicy and fill it with charming summer flavors.

Ingredients for a vegetarian gemista for 2 persons:

2 bell peppers
2 large tomatoes
1 onion
Basil, oregano, dill
6-8 tablespoons of rice
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Easy steps to make gemista:

  1. Wash the vegetables and peel the onion. Remove the seeds from the pepper. Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and peppers to use as a “lid” later on. Scoop out the tomato pulp with a spoon.
  2. Cut the onion, chop the pulp of the tomatoes, and finely chop greens.
  3. Rinse the rice. Add olive oil to the pan, and lightly fry the onion and tomato pulp. At this stage, you can optionally add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and salt. Then add rice and oregano, and simmer with the lid on the pot for fifteen minutes over low heat.
  4. Transfer the rice with the vegetable sauce to a separate plate, add chopped greens, mix and let cool.
  5. Stuff vegetables with rice mixture, brush with olive oil, cover with tomatoe and pepper “lids,” and add the basil leaves and dill. Place in the oven for about forty minutes at 180 degrees.
  6. Serve with a slice of feta or refreshing Greek yogurt and enjoy!

2. Melitzanes Papoutsakia

This Greek recipe is similar in preparation to gemista, with eggplant being the main ingredient. Papoutsakia means “little shoes” because the dish indeed looks like small shoes or boats enriched with some filling.

Simple ingredients, plenty of protein, and an abundance of herbs make Papoutsakia a great summer lunch option to energize for vacation discoveries.

Ingredients for Melitzanes Papoutsakia for 4 persons:

3-4 medium eggplants
500 grams of minced meat, chicken, lamb, or beef is best
1 large onion
2 medium tomatoes
Some parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt, oregano, and black pepper to taste

For the bechamel sauce:

1.5 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1 egg
Salt and nutmeg to taste
100 grams of hard cheese

Easy steps to make Melitzanes Papoutsakia:

  1. Wash the eggplants and cut them in half, and then cut the pulp along the middle in the form of a grid, not reaching the edges. Put the eggplants in salted water and leave for half an hour to remove bitterness.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Finely chop the onion and fry together with minced meat for 3-4 minutes in a small amount of olive oil. Then add peeled and pureed tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, and at the end, add finely chopped parsley.
  3. Now it is time to prepare a tender and rich bechamel sauce. Start with melting the butter, then add flour and fry, stirring until golden brown.
  4. Pour milk in parts, kneading well each time, and then add salt and nutmeg to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened. Then remove from heat, cool slightly and add the egg, quickly and intensively mixing it into the sauce. Allow the bechamel to cool completely.
  5. Remove eggplant from water, rinse, dry, and fry in olive oil until soft. Lay the prepared eggplants on a baking sheet, and carefully use a fork or spoon to make a recess along the cuts. Fill eggplants with meat and veggies stuffing.
  6. Add finely grated cheese to the cooled bechamel, mix, and cover the eggplants on top.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees until a crust forms on the surface of the sauce.

3. Dakos Salad

Greek salad dakos
Crete’s Dakos salad. Credits: Public Domain

This is a fresh and unusual salad, which is part of the traditional cuisine of the sunny island of Crete. Soft cheese in this light dish perfectly contrasts with the crispy bread, juicy vegetables, and olive oil.

Ingredients for Dakos Salad for 2 persons:

10 small Cretan barley crackers, which can be replaced with 4 slices of toasted whole grain bread. Crispy bread is needed.
3-4 medium tomatoes
100 grams of feta cheese
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Dry oregano
Black olives for garnish

Easy steps to make Dakos Salad:

  1. Finely chop or grate the tomatoes, keeping the juice.
  2. Since Cretan crackers are very hard, they can be lightly moistened with water.
  3. Put the crackers on a plate, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Allow it to soak.
  4. Arrange the tomatoes on top so that they cover all the crackers, and then add the crumbled cheese.
  5. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, and garnish with a few olives.

4. Kalamarakia Tiganita

Traditional Greek fried calamari
Greek fried calamari reflect the summer mood as an appetizer or main course. Credit: Michal Osmenda / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, calamari reflects the summer mood and is great as an appetizer or main course in Greek cuisine.

Ingredients for Kalamarakia Tiganita for 2 persons:

700 grams of calamari
100 grams of flour
Ground pepper
Lemon juice for dressing
Vegetable oil for frying

Easy steps to make Kalamarakia Tiganita:

  1. Clean and wash the calamari properly. Then cut them into small rings and place on a paper towel to get rid of excess moisture.
  2. Add flour, salt, and seasonings in a large bowl. Put in chopped calamari and mix. Transfer the calamari to a plate, shaking off excess flour.
  3. Pour enough vegetable oil into a pan to deep fry the squid. Heat the oil over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Then fry the calamari in batches for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Remove the calamari and place them on a paper towel to drain extra oil. Add some salt if desired and drizzle with lemon juice.

5. Mussels Saganaki 

This is another Greek seafood recipe that is rich in Omega-3 and a number of vitamins. Saganaki mussels are cooked in garlic tomato sauce and served with crumbled feta cheese.

The colorful dish pairs well with toasted bread slices to dunk in the rich tomato sauce tinged with wine notes.

Ingredients for Mussels Saganaki for 4 persons: 

1.5 kg of washed mussels
1 glass of white wine
2 tomatoes
1 pepper
1 red onion
1 spring of celery
1 carrot
2 cloves of garlic
100 grams of feta cheese
4 tablespoons of olive oil

Easy steps to make Mussels Saganaki:

  1. Mix all vegetables, except tomatoes, in a blender.
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Pour in the vegetable mixture and fry.
  3. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan along with the mussels and crumbled feta cheese.
  4. Pour in the white wine and cook over high heat, covered, for about 10 minutes.
  5. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.


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