I love trying recipes from different cultures. I have picked up a lot of cook books over the years from the bargain shelves at Barnes and Noble. For Greek cooking my favorite is Food and Wine of Greece by Diane Kochilas, who now has a show on public television. These are some of the most popular food in Greek that I have adapted to fit my family’s tastes, including recipes, tips, and photos. However, I have not included Spanakopitta since I wrote the recipe in a previous post.
Bechamel Sauce- a Staple Food in Greek
One ingredient used often in food in Greek is Bechamel sauce. This is a basic white sauce altered for use in many dishes. In Pasticcio and Moussaka the Greeks add eggs to thicken the sauce whereas for Dolmades lemon juice is added for flavoring. Traditionally the yolks of the eggs are added. However, I added egg whites for a lighter version.
For the basic recipe you will need:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
To make Bechamel you will start by making a basic roux by melting the butter in a saucepan and adding the flour with a whisk. Cook over a low heat for 3 minutes. Gradually add milk while whisking constantly. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until creamy and thick. This recipe yields one cup so you will need to adjust ingredients based on hope much you need. For baked dishes, you can whisk in 1-3 egg yolks after sauce has cooled slightly. However, for additional cups of sauce, do not add additional egg yolks.
Appetizer in Greek: Htipiti (Feta Cheese Spread)
- 8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 2 oz. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 large green pepper chopped
- 3 slices of pickled jalapeno chopped
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- juice of half a lemon
Begin by mashing the feta with the olive oil. Then add in additional ingredients. Salt and pepper can be added to taste as well as more olive oil if you want a smoother consistency.
Food in Greek: Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
- 30 Grape Leaves packed in brine, already rinsed, drained, and with hard stem cut off
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 diced onion
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2/3 cup cooked lentils
- 1 diced tomato
- 1/2 sp. cloves
- 1 tsp dried mint
- In a large skillet heat a tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and cook onion until opaque. Once onion is soft add in parsley and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile mix together rice, lentils, tomato, cloves, mint, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and black pepper to taste. Add onion mixture once it is slightly cool.
- Then place a large teaspoon of filling in the center of a grape leaf. Fold left side over filling followed by the right side. After that, start rolling up the leaf from the bottom where the stem was to the pointed top to make a tiny log. Continue doing this with the remaining grape leaves.
- Once grape leaves are filled, place in a single layer in a large pan seam side down. The pour remaining olive oil and 2/3 cup water over the leaves.
- Cover and cook on low heat for about 40 minutes. These can be served warm or cold.
Food in Greek: Pasticcio- Baked Pasta Casserole
I always like to think of this as Greek Lasagna. It is basic meat, tomatoes, pasta, and a white sauce instead of cheese. Although the name is actually Italian, the flavors are from the Middle East.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 chopped onions
- 1 lb. ground beef ( However, I prefer to grind my own in my food processor.)
- 3 large crushed garlic cloves
- 2 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 pound pasta
- 4 cups bechamel sauce
- 1/4 cup egg whites
- Begin by cooking the onions in the olive oil in a large skillet for about 5 minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add the beef. Cook until the beef begins to brown. Then add tomatoes, spices, and garlic. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions. Once the pasta is done, drain it and set aside after tossing with a little olive oil.
- While the meat continues to cook, make the Bechamel sauce. Once cooked slowly stir in egg whites and any additional seasonings if wanted. (For example, I added 1/2 teaspoon of Allspice.)
- Once all the components are prepared, preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 11x15x3 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Then layer half the pasta on the bottom of the pan. After that spread meat mixture evenly over the top. Then top with remaining pasta. Finally spread Bechamel sauce evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Then continue cooking uncovered for another 15 minutes or until bubbly.
The glass pans below can be used in the oven and for storing food in the freezer and refrigerator with their BPA free plastic lids. I have an older version of the food processor below, and it has been my faithful cooking companion for over 10 years. I have also included a sponsored link for a highly recommended deep fryer. However, I find that a deep pot works just as well.
Food in Greek: Koto pitta me Feta (Chicken & Feta Pie)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Frozen phyllo dough, thawed
- 2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 2 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- black pepper to taste
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/3 lb feta cheese
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 tsp ouzo
Traditionally this is made in a pie plate, but I prefer the rectangular pan because it fits the shape of the frozen phyllo dough. Also, this is normally made with uncooked chicken breast. I prefer using cooked rotisserie chicken for convenience. However, this can leave the dish a bit dry so I have added additional olive oil to compensate.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease an 11″x7″ baking dish.
- Then in a large bowl combine chicken, scallions, celery, and seasonings.
- After that mix in cheeses.
- Once cheeses are mixed in, add eggs, 4 tablespoons olive oil, and ouzo and mix thoroughly.
- When the filling is ready, spread several sheets of phyllo dough in the pan, overlapping so that the sides are covered. Then brush lightly with olive oil.
- After that, place the filling evenly into baking dish and cover with several more sheets of phyllo dough tucking ends in to seal.
- Finally brush top with additional olive oil, and cut several slits in the top for air to escape.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until top is a golden brown. Then cut into desired pieces to serve.
Food in Greek: Moussaka (Baked Eggplant with Ground Beef)
- 2 large eggplants
- 3 cups bechamel sauce
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 oz. mushrooms chopped in the food processor or 1 pound ground beef
- 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juices
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of allspice
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste or ketchup
- 1/2 cup red wine
- olive oil
- Cook onion in 2 tbsp. olive oil until translucent. Then add meat or chopped mushrooms and brown slightly. Once browned, add remaining sauce ingredients. Cover, and lower heat to continue cooking for 45 minutes, adding water if necessary. It is done when most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Cut ends of eggplants and then peel if you prefer. After that cut eggplants into 1/3″ thick rounds and sprinkle with salt.
- When the eggplants have sat for about 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly and dry. Then brush lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Once both sides have been brushed with oil, bake in a preheated oven at 350 F until browned, about 20-30 minutes.
- Once eggplant is cooked, layer half of it in a 11x15x3 inch baking pan. Then top with tomato sauce. After that, place the remaining eggplant slices on top. Complete by gently pouring the Bechamel sauce over the layers. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes or until top is lightly browned.
Loukoumathes (Honey Dipped Dough): Dessert Food in Greek
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 2-3 cups of warm water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- oil for frying
- For dough, begin by dissolving yeast in 1 1/2 cups warm water, about 110 F.
- Meanwhile, mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough for dough to expand while rising.
- Once the yeast is dissolved, make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add yeast mixture stirring until a thick batter forms. You can add more water if it is too much like a dough.
- After that, cover it with a cloth and set somewhere to rise for about 2 hours.
- When the batter has doubled in size, heat a pot with about 4-5 inches of oil to 360 F.
- While oil is heating, mix 1 cup of water with sugar and honey in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- When the oil is hot drop tablespoons of dough in pot, using another spoon to push it into the pot. Cook until golden brown and remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
- Then serve by drizzling syrup over the fried dough balls and sprinkling with cinnamon.