A Greek tavern bu the sea - credits: Veniamakis Stefanos/Shutterstock.com
A Greek tavern bu the sea - credits: Veniamakis Stefanos/Shutterstock.com

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

gemista Phuong D. Nguyen shutterstock copyGemista - credits: Phuong D. Nguyen/Shutterstock.com

One of the most popular and beloved Greek summer foods, gemista is 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 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 of 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 hands-on experience in Greek gastronomy

Check out the recipe for traditional gemista here.

Dolmadakia

dolmades food A Lein shutterstock copyDolmadakia - 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 gets cooked in the pot and is served with tzatziki, plain yogurt or a sauce made of yogurt and mint. The taste of this Greek dish is unique and refreshing, and even though they are cumbersome 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!

Check out the recipe for dolmadakia here. 

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Shrimp Saganaki

shrimp saganaki Bvlena shutterstock 2Shrimp 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 delicious Greek 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 as 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 trying it; even if you are not a fish or seafood fan, after trying this Greek summer recipe, you are going to become one! 

Check out the recipe for shrimp saganaki here

Tourlou Tourlou or Mpriam

tourlou VICUSCHKA shutterstock 2Tourlou tourlou - credits: VICUSCHKA/Shutterstock.com

A summer 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 homey recipe 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.

Stuffed peppers with cheese

piperies gemistes argiro.grPeppers stuffed with cheese - credits: argiro.gr

This Greek summer dish comes in different levels of spiciness and you can find it in most traditional taverns and ouzeri, since it’s a classic Greek entree. The peppers are filled with feta cheese and fried in extra virgin olive oil. The saltiness of the cheese combined with the sweetness of the peppers create a mouthwatering combination, showcasing amazingly the wonders of Greek production.

Pair it with a glass of your favorite Greek spirit and you’ll discover what the Greek summer is really all about! 

Check out the recipe for stuffed peppers with cheese here.

Kolokithokeftedes

zuchinni fritters Helena Zolotuhina shutterstockZucchini fritters - credits: Helena Zolotuhina/Shutterstock.com

If you happened to read some of our other food blogs about the riches of Greek cuisine, then you’ve probably already realized our love for the Kolokithokeftedes dish. This Greek entree is actually fresh grated zucchini, flavored with onions, dill, basil, coriander, and sometimes feta cheese and made into little balls, which get fried. Served with some tzatziki or a regular yogurt sauce, this Greek delicacy gets happily devoured in summer by people of all ages!  

Check out the recipe for kolokithokeftedes here.

Fried Kalamarakia

extra crunchy calamari thegluttonlifeFried Calamari - credits: thegluttonlife.com

Any fish tavern that respects itself would have kalamarakia, meaning fried calamari rolls, at the top of their menu! This summer dish is simple yet extremely tasty and loved by all. The calamari is sliced into rings and seasoned with herbs and regular flour or semolina and bread flour, before frying it. Golden and extremely crispy, they are served with salad or fries. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice on top of the calamari rings to elevate their taste and enjoy this iconic delicacy of Greek cuisine

Check out the recipe for Greek kalamarakia here.

Fasolakia 

Greek green beans olivetomatoGreek green beans - credits: olivetomato.com

Vegetables are in the spotlight of the Greek summer cuisine once again; this time it is Fasolakia, a green beans dish stewed in olive oil and tomato, that will make you fall in love with the traditional recipes of Greece. Healthy and rich in nutritional value, fasolakia are cooked in olive oil, since they belong in the ladera food category, meaning ‘with olive oil’, which makes all the difference in the world when it comes to taste and texture.

When served with some feta cheese you will never want summer in Greece to end. Some recipes include potatoes and sliced carrots in the recipe, but however you’ll find the dish, we are sure that tasting it will be life-changing.  

Check out the recipe for fasolakia here.

Lemon Potatoes 

lemon potatoes on plate grenglish.co.ukLemon potatoes - credits: grenglish.co.uk

The Greek lemon potatoes dish can both be served on its own as a main and as a side dish, depending on the mood and the appetite of those who eat it. Tasty, healthy, and light, it is an ideal dish for summer, when the heat makes you want to spend more time in the cool waters of the sea and less on the dinner table.

What makes this Greek dish different from the regular roast potatoes is that, in this version, the potatoes are cooked in a chicken broth with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano. They have the chance to absorb all the rich flavor while being cooked to golden perfection. 

Check out the recipe for Greek lemon potatoes here.

Greek Sea Bass

traditional cretan dorada fish Toms Auzins shutterstockSea bass - credits: Toms Auzins/Shutterstock.com

Now, this list of Greek summer dishes wouldn’t be complete without at least one fish option. The Greek seas are rich with many different species of fish and marine life, feeding the Greeks for generations. The Greek fishermen take their job very seriously, carrying the heritage of their ancestors when it comes to the art of their profession, which first and foremost respects the sea and its habitats.

The delicious Bass fish, also known as the Mediterranean Branzino, is an excellent dish that you can order in a traditional fish tavern on any Greek island. Stuffed with lemon wedges, rosemary springs, and red onions the fish is baked until crispy on the outside. White wine, lemon juice, oregano, and, of course, olive oil are added once it’s done and served on a big platter. 

Check out the recipe for Greek sea bass 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! It's 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.