Food is an integral part of Greek culture. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It’s not just a means to survival for us, it is a sacred part of the day where nutrition meets tastiness. We take our munchies seriously. We may have talked about the Sunday dinner tradition in Greece, but what about the homemade dishes that make up the Sunday dinner? Find below the most popular Greek homey recipes that no self-respecting Greek home omits from its weekly diet plan.
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Giouvarlakia - credits: from my point of view/Shutterstock.com
Best savored during the colder autumn and winter months, but even served cold during spring and summer, giouvarlakia has been a staple to Greek homes for hundreds of years. As with most dishes of Greek cuisine, it is all about simplicity and fresh organic ingredients. Giouvarlakia is essentially a Greek meatball soup that consists of -you guessed it- meatballs that have rice in them, cooked on the stove in a soup of egg and lemon base. The result is little bites of delicious Greek meatballs engulfed in a thick creamy sauce-like soup that will leave you salivating. Amazing texture, amazing taste and not a nasty ingredient in sight! If you have the opportunity to try it during your stay in Greece, don’t pass it up!
You can find the recipe for giouvarlakia here.
Giouvetsi - credits: Dar1930/Shutterstock.com
Now, this dish is one of the most typical grandma foods you will find. Its smell alone transports me back to childhood and carefreeness. Giouvetsi is a Greek stew made traditionally with beef -although there are variables that use chicken or lamb- and orzo pasta baked in a tomato sauce that is usually spiced with cinnamon and cloves. It can be cooked in the oven or even as a casserole dish. It is delicious, nutritious, a bit on the heavy side, but perfect for a family gathering nonetheless! It is one of the most popular and loved traditional Greek meals; anyone with a mouth is bound to love it!
You can find the recipe for giouvetsi here.
Gigantes - credits: ZAX 77/Shutterstock.com
Spicy, full of protein and filling, gigantes is the epitome of a simple combination of ingredients ending up in an explosion of taste. It is resourceful, vegan and a comfort food no one can say ‘no’ to. The dish consists of large baked beans but with a Greek twist: chili pepper and fresh herbs that upgrade the look and taste of the dish to a whole different level; no Heinz baked beans shenanigans. Legumes are a significant element of Greek gastronomy and they are considered to be simultaneously the food of the poor -due to their negligible cost- and the most healthy food category. Try them the Greek way and you’ll become a huge fan yourselves!
Mac and octopus
Octopus pasta - credits: Luca Santilli/Shutterstock.com
Now I get that this sounds weird, and yes, the smell coming out of the pot while cooking it may not be the best thing your nose has ever been graced to smell, however the taste of this rather unique dish is truly rewarding. Combining fresh seafood -which can be found in abundance in Greece- with everyone's favorite carbohydrate can only result in magic and if you try it, you won’t regret it! It is a casserole that consists of octopus, pasta and tomato sauce. The pasta of choice is traditionally macaroni, but of course, that depends on personal preference. If you’re lucky, some local seaside taverns offer it, so if you see it written on the menu snatch the opportunity and have some, it may not be homemade, but it will still be a delectable experience!
You can find the recipe for octopus past here.
Pastitsio - credits: Victority/Shutterstock.com
Everyone and their dog have heard about mousaka, the ultimate traditional Greek dish. However, there is also another meal, dare I say more popular than mousaka among the Greek homes, pastitsio. Similar to mousaka in regard to the look and preparation, pastitsio consists of pasta - usually penne- and a bolognese pasta sauce, topped with a rich, cheesy bechamel. It is baked in the oven and it is a dish both kids and adults absolutely adore. Nothing screams ‘homemade family meal’ more than pastitsio and for one, I’m more than ok with it. The pastitsio one can find in Greek taverns are significantly heavier and more greasy than the homey version, but that shouldn’t stop you from ordering a slice of it. After all, you have every right to indulge in rich meals while on vacation!
You can find the recipe for pastitsio here.
Spetzofai - credits: Arkadiusz Fajer/Shutterstock.com
This spicy, rustic dish is a personal favorite. Spetzofai is made out of Greek sausages cooked in tomato sauce -I guess we have a thing for tomato sauce in Greece I was unaware of until now- and green peppers. Now, when I say sausages, I don’t mean the rather bland, frankfurt-style ones. No, no. In order for spetzofai to be the authentic, scrumptious meal every Greek knows and loves, the sausages used in the recipe must be country-style and spicy! Spetzofai makes up for a perfect meze to accompany your Greek spirit, while it is quick and easy to make! You can even get creative with the recipe and add in whatever you think goes best; provided that you’ve got your hands on high-quality sausages, it will turn out delicious anyway!
You can find the recipe for Spetzofai here.
Baked lamb with potatoes
Baked lamb with potatoes - credits: coffeeflavour/Shutterstock.com
One of the simpler yet most flavorsome cult-classic recipes is the oven-baked lamb with a side of baked potatoes. It is a go-to recipe when you want to please everyone and it is reserved for special occasions and celebratory events. The success of the dish lies in the slow baking of the meat, which should be crispy from the outside and tender on the inside, falling apart from the bone on its own accord. Some people add a mustard and lemon sauce to the potatoes before baking them, elevating the taste of the dish and making it a sight to behold. Finding baked lamb with potatoes shouldn’t be too hard if you choose to eat in a traditional Greek eatery. Make sure to try this traditional delicacy and you can thank us later.
You can find the recipe for the baked lamb with a side of potatoes here.
Of course, there are a lot more traditional dishes, like the famous mousaka. However, we didn’t want to state the obvious, so we presented to you the lesser-known homey Greek dishes you should look out for during your visit to Greece. Enhance your traveling experience with a taste of these local recipes and get captivated by Greece body and soul!