Summery salad days are finally here, and it’s out with soups and in with something lighter. Lately, Greece has been in the news more for its politics than its cuisine, but this country has plenty of wonderful dishes to suit hot weather with ingredients easily available in the UK.
The Greeks have a tradition of sharing many small plates of food, called mezethes. You can make yourself one of these for your lunch break, or loads for a picnic (or beach) party! For authenticity, accompany the dish with Ouzo served with a splash of water over ice.
All recipes serve 4-6.
A Greek salad may be an obvious choice, but it can be made with great ingredients that pack a flavourful punch for that joyful Greek summer holiday feeling. Get the best quality tomatoes and feta you can find for a pleasing result.
1 beef tomato, cut in slices
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, cut into wafer-thin slices
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into rings
1 bunch fresh mint, coarsely chopped (save a couple of sprigs for garnish)
1 bunch fresh dill, coarsely chopped
1 handful stoned black olives
1 block of feta, crumbled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Just chuck everything in a bowl, mix, and serve. It tastes great the next day, when the flavours have really melded.
Spinach and filo pie
This is a simple, but delicious version of spanakopita. Traditionally, the Greeks make the pasty from scratch – but bought works very well.
1/2 of a 250g pack filo pastry
2 eggs, beaten
100g feta cheese, crumbled
200g spinach leaves
175g jar sundried tomatoes in oil, drained (reserve oil), and roughly chopped
Put the spinach in a large pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and heat gently for a few minutes until wilted. Drain in a sieve and when cool, squeeze out any water.
Chop the spinach coarsely, add all the ingredients to a bowl except the pastry, and stir to combine.
Carefully unroll your filo pastry. Brush the top sheet with oil from the tomatoes, and put this sheet oil side down in a pie pan. Make sure that plenty of pastry hangs over the sides of the pan. Oil another sheet, and layer on top, rotating a little. Repeat twice more.
Put the filling inside and smooth down. Fold the overhanging pastry over the filling, rumpling it up a little. If it doesn’t all meet over the middle, add an extra sheet on top first. Glaze with milk and slide into a preheated 80C/fan 160C/gas 4 oven for 30 mins until the pastry is crispy and brown.
This dish can be served hot or cold.
This is an easy dish with seriously rich flavours.
1 x 230g can butterbeans
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g ripe tomatoes, skins removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch ground cinnamon
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add all the other ingredients except the beans. Stir to combine, and cook for five minutes. Season to taste, tip in the beans, and transfer it all to an oven-proof dish. Cook in a preheated oven 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for about an hour. Do not cover or stir.
This recipe is glorious whether served hot or cold.