Used to the warmer climate, as soon as the temperature starts to rise in Greece, the locals start living their best life! Along with the bikinis, sunglasses, and cold coffees, a must for the summer months, are the Greek summer recipes that are equal parts light, nutritious, and delicious! Check out the best Greek summer dishes you should try during your stay in Greece and enjoy original Greek flavors under the brilliant sun - we promise there won't be a salad in sight!
Gemista - credits: Phuong D. Nguyen/Shutterstock.com
One of the most popular and beloved Greek summer foods, gemista are a staple to every Greek’s home. The dish of gemista consists of vegetables, more commonly tomatoes and green peppers but also aubergines, onions, and zucchinis, stuffed with a rice and herbs filling, baked in the oven and served with copious amounts of feta cheese. Gemista can be eaten hot straight out of the oven, but in the summertime, the Greeks prefer to eat them cooled from the fridge, as it is the ultimate Greek summer delicacy. There is a version gemista that includes minced meat in the filling, however, everyone in the office is partial to the meat-free version, which is more summery anyway, so this is the one we recommend. If you’d like to be taught the secrets of cooking the perfect gemista by a Greek chef, you can join us for an Athens Market Tour and Cooking Class and get a hands-on experience in Greek gastronomy!
Check out the recipe for traditional yemista here.
Dolmadakia - credits: A Lein/Shutterstock.com
Equally traditional and a personal favorite, dolmadakia are delectable as they are addictive, due to their small size and incredibly high yummy factor. They are stuffed vine leaves -we’re nothing if not resourceful as a nation- that consist of rice mixed with spring onions, red onions, garlic and other herbs depending on preference, which get cooked in the pot and are served with tzatziki, plain yogurt or a sauce made of yogurt and mint. Their taste is unique and refreshing, and even though they are a cumbersome dish to create due to the boring and tiring task of folding the vine leaves, their flavor is worth the effort. You can get dolmadakia in a can, but they taste nothing like the real deal. Also, similarly to the aforementioned gemista, there is a version of dolmadakia that includes meat, yet once again, the vegetarian version is arguably the local-favorite. Try those little bites of heaven and discover what the Greek summer tastes like!
Shrimp saganaki - credits: Bvlena/Shutterstock.com
In a country surrounded by the sea, it would be a crime not to enjoy the fresh fish and seafood the location of Greece generously offers, especially during the summer months, when you can relax in a fish tavern by the sea and sip on your ouzo while eating delightful meze. Garides saganaki, or shrimp saganaki, is a dish of shrimps cooked in a pan with tomato sauce, herbs, spices, and feta cheese, usually on the spicy side, as most recipes include fresh chili. The feta cheese gives it a more creamy texture and enhances its flavor considerably. It is usually served as a starter, but can be eaten as a main course ass well, and goes flawlessly with bread to soak up the delicious excess sauce off the plate. No respectable Greek tavern excludes shrimp saganaki from its menu, so you can find this one-of-a-kind dish pretty much everywhere. Therefore, you have no excuse to skip on trying it; even if you are not a fish or seafood fan, after trying this dish, you are going to become one!
Check out the recipe for shrimp saganaki here.
Tourlou Tourlou or Mpriam
Tourlou tourlou - credits: VICUSCHKA/Shutterstock.com
A dish that tastes and smells of childhood for the Greeks, tourlou tourlou is the epitome of food thrifting that results in a flawless combination of nutrition and deliciousness. Although its official name is mpriam, tourlou tourlou has prevailed, due to the fact that in Greek, it is a slang term that stands for ‘everything all mixed up together’. The definition of its name describes perfectly the actual recipe that consists of a wide assortment of fresh vegetables -you can put whatever you’ve got in your fridge- mixed with tomatoes, onions, garlic and of course, the king of the Greek cuisine, olive oil. Despite being a food that most kids tend to avoid, which I’m pretty sure happens because it doesn't come in a McDonald's bag, it is a summer favorite for adults as it is light, refreshing and easy to make! Serve it with a block of feta cheese and enjoy your trip to flavorville!
Check out the recipe for tourlou tourlou here.
Of course, apart from full-on meals, Greeks have special snacks reserved for summer. One of those is the -admittedly controversial- combination of watermelon and feta cheese! I know it sounds weird, but don’t knock till you try it! Its a refreshing and tasty combination with the saltiness of the feta cheese complimenting the sweetness of the watermelon; a match made in heaven! Additionally, nothing says ‘summer’ more than an ice-cold glass of Greek homemade sour cherry cordial or Vyssinatha. As a midday refresher or an afternoon treat, the delicious drink will satisfy your sweet tooth without adding too much to your calorie count.
If you’re looking to navigate your way through the Greek food scene, an Athens for Foodies tour in the morning or an Athens Highlights Evening Tour With Meze Dinner at night would be right up your street! Alternatively, if homemade Greek food is not what you’re after and you'd much rather explore the Athenian street food scene, thoroughly explained also in our Athens travel guide, the Local’s Athens Street food tour will unveil all the street food secrets you will possibly need for a tasty stay in Greece.