From iconic moussaka to sizzling souvlaki, vibrant salads to intensely flavoured stews, Greek food has a long and sun-filled tradition with big flavours and simplicity at its heart.
As part of the research into his new cookbook 5 Ingredients Mediterranean, Jamie travelled around the beautiful Med, taking inspiration from the delicious dishes he enjoyed. On his travels he visited a few brilliant Greek spots, including Skopelos.
While Jamie was there, he met Jordan Tseneklidis, a nomadic chef. “A staple of all local cuisines is wild greens – you won’t find the same kind in every place, but it’s the most iconic ingredient,” Jordan said. “It can turn into a unique meal that comes out of every home or restaurant kitchen in the country. Another unique product, whose roots go back to the first cultivations of Mount Athos, are the sour plums that nowadays only grow in Skopelos. One of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever tasted is fish cooked with sour plums.” We can’t wait to visit.
For Greek cooking at its best, make the most of quality olive oil, feta cheese and yoghurt, and use the freshest produce you can get your hands on; think ripe tomatoes, lovely cucumbers, peppers and lemons, and fresh herbs, like dill and rosemary. Don’t forget to stock up on some staple spices and herbs, too: dried oregano, cinnamon and cloves, for starters.
Here are a bunch of Greek recipe ideas to help you bring more of this incredible cuisine to your table.
“Whenever I’ve visited the Greek islands, I’ve been inspired by wonderful fresh and fruity halloumi salads,” says Jamie in his cookbook 5 Ingredients Mediterranean. This is a fun way to enjoy halloumi, grated into a frying pan and cooked into little golden webs, then tossed into a salad with sticky peaches and pickled cucumbers. Winner!
Tzatziki makes a fantastic ready-to-go marinade in this Greek-inspired roast chicken recipe from Jamie’s 5 Ingredients Mediterranean. “It’s untraditional used like this, but I can totally vouch for its deliciousness and ability to tenderise meat,” says Jamie. Served with fluffy pan-juice rice, jammy onions and hot, sticky lemons, this one is a real family favourite.
Inspired by Greek and Turkish street food, these quick homemade flatbreads, topped with smoked aubergines, hot marinated olives, feta and oregano, are to die for. For extra flavour points, Jamie chars the aubergines until blackened and blistered for incredible smoky, silky results.
You can’t think of Greek food without thinking about lamb. These skewers of sizzling lamb, aubergine, Kefalotyri cheese and bay leaves are out of this world. Kefalotyri cheese is a hard, yellow cheese that fries well, but if you can’t find it then try halloumi instead.
Keftedes are a staple in Greece and Cyprus. Sometimes made with meat, this recipe puts plants front and centre, with lentils, spinach, plenty of dill and parsley, and feta. Serve with a herby yoghurt for dipping – they’re a fantastic midweek dinner.
These sizzling pork skewers from Jamie Does… are marinated ahead to ensure super-tender results. Served with a chargrilled red pepper salad, homemade tzatziki and warm flatbreads, these traditional Greek kebabs are fresh and full of flavour.
A twist on a spinach spanakopita, this savoury filo pastry is filled with any leafy greens you have to hand. Serve it with a drizzle of honey, crushed nuts and seeds and a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and you have a real show-stopper on your table.
This Greek potato recipe is called yiachni, which is an umbrella term for stewing all sorts of vegetables (and sometimes meat) in a tomato-based sauce, with aromatics, like oregano, onions and garlic, and plenty of olive oil. Served with salty feta, this is proper comfort food.
This much-loved summer salad works best when your tomatoes are at their sweetest and juiciest. Jamie recommends using a mix of ripe tomatoes and chopping them into different sizes for lovely texture. Tossed with crunchy cucumber and pepper, sharp red onion, olives, tangy feta and oregano, it’s no wonder this salad is one of Greece’s most famous exports.
Jamie pulls out all the stops for this veggie twist on a Greek classic. Instead of lamb, the filling is made with alternate layers of thinly sliced roast potatoes, a rich porcini, tomato and lentil ragù, and roasted aubergine, then topped with luxuriously cheesy béchamel sauce. To. die. for.
“I love this combo of spicy chicken, veg-packed couscous and cool, minty, cucumber yoghurt,” says Jamie. This Greek chicken dish from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals makes for a delicious midweek meal. For a quick hack, flavour your chicken breasts and bash them until nice and thin – this will help them cook quicker.
Beef stifado has fantastic intense flavours. Chunks of beef are marinated in red wine, vinegar and heady spices, like allspice, cloves and cinnamon, then cooked slow and low with onions and tomatoes. Keep it classic by serving the stew with orzo or hilopites (a traditional Greek pasta).
A potent mix of nuts, honey, citrus and spices, sandwiched between crispy filo layers, this baklava recipe is heaven in a mouthful! For a less traditional, but slightly simpler take on baklava, try this Baklava pie.
Click here to find out more about Jamie’s 5 Ingredient Mediterranean and bag yourself a copy