Health

15 Greek Foods That Are Super Healthy, According to Science (+5 Greek Food Recipes)

The Greek cuisine is one of the most historically rich cuisines around the world, with its origins dating back several millennia. However, over time, the cuisine has changed due to absorption of a number of influences like the Turkish cuisine owing to the roughly four centuries of the Ottoman Empire. The Greek cuisine has also had an influence on many cuisines around the world too.

Greek foods form part of the Mediterranean Diet which has attracted a lot of attention over the past two decades as a diet with a lot of health benefits like the increased health of the brain, better heart health due to less cholesterol, controlled blood pressure and many other benefits.

Scientists believe that through a healthy intake of fat, healthy carbohydrates which are at low glycemic index, a lot of fiber presence in the diet, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, the Mediterranean Diet is able to significantly reduce the risk of some of the common ailments that are plaguing us today (1).

This article takes an exploration into 15 of the Greek foods that are scientifically proven to be healthy. Additionally, the article also provides five tasty and super healthy Greek recipes to try out in order to experience the Greek cuisine in a confidently healthy way.

1. Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon Sauce)

Avgolemono otherwise known as the egg-lemon sauce is a Greek food which is made by mixing broth with egg yolk and lemon juice, then thickened by heating – hence its name. It can be taken as a sauce or as a soup. As a sauce, it can be used for warm stuffed vegetables or dolma, for vegetables and for the dishes which are more stew-like.

As a soup, the lemon juice and egg yolk are mostly mixed with chicken broth although broths from lamb meat, vegetables or fish are also sometimes used. Before the egg and lemon juice mixture is added, rice is cooked in the broth, giving the final food a variation of near stew and nearly soup. Chicken soup has been recommended as a good remedy for flu due to the compound carnosine found in it although it is temporary (2).

Of particular interest in this food is the combination of eggs and lemons which have been scientifically proven to be very healthy components of the human diet. Eggs for instance act as healthy calorie sources of about 150 kcal/100g, excellent quality source of protein, can be prepared in many different methods and are economically affordable.

Eggs also contain a significant amount of fat-soluble compounds, a property which makes them safe for people of all ages and all stages. They are a highly nutritious and affordable food, providing an amazing amount of 18 vitamins and minerals (3). Some nutrients found in eggs are very healthy since they protect the human body from a lot of degenerative actions, including the cardiovascular disease (4).

It has been evidenced by several studies that lemon fruit promotes health and has a lot of phenolic compounds, important oils, fibers, carotenoids, minerals and vitamins (5). Although not yet proven in humans, studies using Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats have shown that lemon juice has a suppressive effect and crude flavonoid on blood pressure (6). Amazingly, even the water extract from lemon peels tested on the SHR also showed a suppressive effect on the blood pressure (7).

Bottom Line: Avgolemono contains eggs and lemons rich in nutrients which have been proven to have good effects on health and mostly important in the control of blood pressure and avoidance of cardiovascular disease.

2. Baked Sardines

Sardines are small oily fish which are among the richest natural sources of essential Omega 3 fatty acids. Fish is a common component of the Greek cuisine. Fatty fish intake has often been associated with a lot of health benefits.

Sardines provide for the body above half of the recommended intake of EPA and DHA fats which are very important for brain health, cardiac health and reduction of inflammation. 100 grams of sardines provides 473 milligrams of EPA and 509 milligrams of DHA (8). Studies have proven that the risk of death due to a heart disease can be reduced by as much as approximately 25% (9).

The DHA is also important for brain health – to healthy brain development in young children as well as promoting healthy aging of the brain in mature adults (10).

Sardines also have a high protein, vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium content which makes the ideal for healthy bones. One can of sardine provides almost a third of the recommended daily calcium dosage which is provided in a form that is highly absorbable.

They are usually baked using olive oil, seasoning, and lemons.

Bottom Line: Sardines are a rich source of essential Omega 3 oils and proteins which are important in reducing the risk of cardiac diseases, improve brain health and reduce inflammation. They also contain calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D which are good for strong bones.

3. Dolmades

These are stuffed grape leaves which are usually served as a main dish or an appetizer. Herbs, rice and sometimes even meat is used to stuff the grape leaves. However, the material used to stuff varies and hence the nutritional content varies too.

Despite the variations, grape leaves have high amounts of dietary fiber and low in calorie content. They have significant amounts of vitamin K and vitamin A as well (11).

In addition to the high dietary fiber, vitamin K and vitamin A content, grape leaves have very high levels of antioxidants. Studies suggest that the antioxidant activity found in grape leaves is ten times that found in grape juice or pulp (12).

More amazingly, people who suffer from chronic venous insufficiency, a condition which makes blood flow through the veins difficult, are in luck for leaves of red grape may improve the circulation of blood.

Different spices and herbs are used to flavor dolmades. These also have a lot of health benefits and form an important part of the Greek cuisine (13).

Many dolmades use the herbs parsley and another one known as dill in their recipes.

The parsley herb is a very rich source of vitamin K whereby just five sprigs are enough to provide all and even more than enough of the daily vitamin K needs (14). Vitamin K is an important factor of the blood clotting process and also promotes bone and cardiac health.

Dill as an herb in dolmades is rich in antioxidants and helps the process of digestion a lot. It also slows down the growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungus.

Bottom Line: Dolmades are stuffed grape leaves rich in nutrition. They also contain antioxidants which delay the growth of pathogenic organisms and vitamin K which promotes bone and cardiac health.

4. Fakes Soupa

This is basically the Greek version of lentil soup. It is a very common and affordable meal in the Greek diet. It is a vegetarian meal as well because it does not contain any animal or dairy products.

Fakes soupa is an ideal source of dietary fiber and protein. A single cup of lentils which are the main ingredients of fakes soupa provides 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein (15).

Apart from the dietary fiber and protein, the fakes soupa is rich in vitamins and minerals too. Some of the nutrients contained in a cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils are (15) molybdenum, folic acid, iron, manganese, zinc and vitamin B1.

The fakes soupa is particularly important for vegetarians to compensate the low levels of iron, zinc, and protein in their diet.

Additionally, studies have suggested that the lentils used in fakes soupa might help to control the blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and can also help fight cancer.

Bottom Line: Fakes soupa is lentil soup which is rich in fiber, protein and a lot of other nutrients. Its benefits are that it supplements a vegetarian's diet supply of zinc, iron, and proteins and helps control blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol level and helps fight cancer.

5. Gigantes Plaki

Gigante comes from the Greek name used to refer to giants while plaki is an oven-baked dish with vegetables. Thus, the term gigantes plaki refers to giant white beans which are baked in a sauce of tomatoes.

However, these Gigantes beans are sometimes hard to find and therefore other large white or lima beans are used in their place.

These white beans are full of nutrients. It is important to note that beans are a common delicacy throughout Greece and are very nutrient-concentrated (16).

Once again, beans are an ideal protein source for vegetarians.

These beans are also an excellent idea for weight loss due to their high dietary fiber and protein content (17).

More so, studies have proven that beans have an effect on cardiac health. People who consume higher quantities of beans are at lower risk of getting a heart disease. Diabetes and blood sugar are also controlled by beans as is known (16).

Bottom Line: Gigantes plaki are large white beans which are baked in a sauce of tomatoes. Beans are very nutrient-dense and are an ideal source of proteins for vegetarians and have also been associated with lots of other health benefits including cardiac health and blood sugar control.

6. Horiatiki Salad (Greek Salad)

In Greek, horiatiki is used to refer to a villager so a horiatiki salad is a villager’s salad.

It is basically made using onions, pieces of tomatoes, olives, sliced cucumbers and feta cheese. The feta cheese is usually served in the form of rectangular pieces spread over the salad. Vinegar and olive oil are then used to dress these. All of these components are rich in nutrients and are very common in Greek cuisine.

The vegetable making up the salad make it a rich source of dietary fiber. In addition, vegetables have significant amounts of antioxidants and nutrients such as potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C (17).

The olive in the salad coupled with the olive oil dressing contains healthy fats which are monounsaturated. These monounsaturated fats are important since they reduce the risk of getting a heart attack or stroke and also decrease inflammation (18).

The feta is usually sprinkled on the salad and is also a common component of the Greek cuisine.

Milk from sheep or goats is used to make feta. The high content of calcium, protein, and phosphorus is good for bone health. As a matter of fact, feta contains more calcium than the majority of other cheeses.

Bottom Line: Horiatiki salad is made up of vegetables which are rich in nutrients, olive oil, and olives which have monounsaturated fats good for cardiac health and feta which has a high calcium content good for bone health.

7. Grilled Salmon

Just as the name suggests, this is salmon which has been grilled. It is usually served with salad. It is as well a fish and as has been mentioned before, fish form an important part of the Greek cuisine. Grilled salmon is seasoned with salt and pepper for taste and can be served with either Greek salad or tzatziki, another super healthy food we shall look at.

Salmon, in particular, has loads of health benefits for humans. It is considered one of the best long-chain omega-3 sources, providing the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. 100 gram of farmed salmon can produce 2.3 grams of omega-3 while 100 grams of wild salmon can contain up to 2.6 grams of omega-3 (38). Omega-3 reduces inflammation, lowers the blood pressure, improves the function of cells on the arterial walls and reduces the risk of cancer.

Salmon is also a great protein source, rich in B-vitamins, good potassium source and loaded with selenium and the antioxidant astaxanthin.

All these compounds in salmon help it to be able to reduce the risk of heart diseases, aid in weight control, helps reduce inflammation, promotes brain health and what’s more? It is delicious and the delicate, unique flavor is undeniable.

Bottom Line: Grilled salmon as other fishes in the Greek cuisine has a lot of health benefits including reducing the risk of heart diseases, aiding in weight control, reducing inflammation and promoting brain health among others.

8. Horta Vrasta

Horta vrasta basically translates to boiled greens in English and is a common meal in Greek households. This delicacy is usually dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

In the traditional horta vrasta, wild greens are usually used. All across the Mediterranean, an often overlooked aspect of the diet is high consumption of greens.

Majority of wild greens contain very high levels of antioxidants. A study showed that a lot of the wild greens have relatively higher antioxidant amounts than blueberries (19).

Most foods lose antioxidants during boiling. These antioxidants are well retained by wild greens even when boiled unlike in other foods as a research has shown (20).

For the preparation of this dish, any green leafy vegetables can be used. Some greens which are commonly used are mustard greens, dandelion greens, endive, spinach, and chicory.

The nutrient content of the meal depends therefore on the vegetables used. However, it is common for all greens to have high levels of vitamin K and fiber content and still low-calorie content.

In addition, all leafy green vegetables are also rich in dietary nitrates content which have been proven by recent studies to have the ability to lower blood pressure and lowering glaucoma risk (21).

Bottom Line: Horta vrasta are boiled vegetables which have high amounts of antioxidants as well as dietary nitrates which help in lowering blood pressure and lowering glaucoma risk.

9. Hummus

Hummus is a common dip popular in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It is made from mashed or cooked chickpeas (or other beans) mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (sesame seeds which have been grounded), salt and garlic. This dip is both delicious and extremely healthy as well (22). It can also be eaten with pita bread.

However, the hummus recipes vary slightly and therefore the nutritional content also varies. The main ingredient of commonly known hummus, chickpeas, has significant amounts of proteins, B vitamins, dietary fiber and other nutrients (23). They are also known as garbanzo beans. These assist in weight management, cardiac health, and blood sugar control.

Hummus contains approximately 170 calories per 100 grams and is a recommendable source of fat which composes approximately 14% of the meal, majorly from the ground sesame seeds and the olive oil.

Olive oil has been associated with many health benefits. These include reduced inflammation, improved brain health, reduced risk of heart diseases and stroke and also helps in fighting against cancer as earlier mentioned.

Bottom Line: Hummus is a common dip made from cooked chickpeas mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini. It is a meal rich in dietary fiber, proteins, healthy fats and other nutrients which have many health benefits.

10. Melitzanosalata

Melitzanosalata is Greek for eggplant salad although it is actually a dip and not a salad. It is a blend or mash of roasted eggplants with lemon juice, and olive oil. This dish has a striking similarity to the dish from the Middle East known as baba ghanoush.

Eggplants contain a good amount of dietary fiber and antioxidants which counter free radicals (24) that are in the environment or that are produced by the process of food breakdown in the body. The cell damage caused by these free radicals has been associated with cancers, aging and chronic diseases (25).

Research has it that eggplants also reduce free radicals and improve brain health through a powerful antioxidant found in them called nasunin (26).

More so, lemon juice and garlic are used to flavor the dip. They also common components of a Greek cuisine and have numerous health benefits. For instance, garlic is a good immune system booster and helps avoid cardiac ailments. Lemons, on the other hand, have a high content of vitamin C which is good for heart health and which may reduce the risk of getting kidney stones (27, 28).

The many health benefits of olive oil cannot be overemphasized too.

This meal is usually used for dipping bread and vegetables as an appetizer but can also be spread on a sandwich.

Bottom Line: Melitzanosalata is a dip made by blending roasted eggplants with lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. It is an ideal source of dietary fiber and antioxidants which help counter harmful free radicals.

11. Quinoa Bowls

Quinoa is an ideal alternative to starchy grains which is wheat free. This is because its composition is almost like that of rice, wheat, and other cereals. Quinoa can be served in several ways. For example, it can be served as a cereal for breakfast, with Greek salad as a main dish for lunch and as a side dish for supper.

Quinoa supplies just a moderate amount of minerals such as manganese and phosphorus, folate, dietary fiber and other dietary minerals.

Furthermore, it can be used as a complete protein source. All of the nine essential amino acids are provided by quinoa and thus it is recommendable to vegetarians who need to supplement their protein intake. It is gluten-free and more interestingly it is considered to have a high digestibility.

Therefore, due to the richness of minerals such as phosphorus, it is good for bone health and also aids digestion due to the dietary fiber it provides.

Additionally, quinoa also has a high anti-inflammatory phytonutrient content which makes it able to fight off infections and enables treatment of diseases.

It has a calorific value of 120 calories per 100 grams thus considerably healthy (38).

Proteins are the building blocks of the human body and assists in many processes of the body thus enough intake is recommended.

Bottom Line: Quinoa is a food that serves as an alternative to other cereals such as wheat and rice. It is gluten-free and is a good source of minerals such as manganese and phosphorus, dietary fiber and proteins.

12. Saganaki Shrimp

Saganaki shrimp is a meal named after the pan used to prepare and serve it. Saganaki is a heavy copper frying pan with two handles in Greek. The dish itself is a traditional delicacy which doubles up as a tasty and healthy appetizer.

This dish features shrimp in tasty tomato sauce. The shrimp though small have many health benefits when eaten with or as a meal.

Shrimps contain only 106 calories per 100 grams and also contains a number of proteins. They are low in mercury content unlike many fish (29).

The shrimp provides iron which plays a crucial role in hemoglobin formation. Thus, it helps the body in the production of red-blood cells which perform the role of ensuring proper oxygenation of blood and consequently improves the brain health (29).

Shrimps also contain high levels of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium assists the body to relax vessels and hence reduce migraines. Additionally, magnesium helps reduce the chance of sleep disorders and risk of insomnia by keeping the body metabolism in check. This is because it has been found to have a direct effect on the quality, length, and calmness of sleep (29).

Per 100 grams of shrimp, one can obtain 54% of the daily recommendation of selenium. Selenium improves bone health by strengthening and lengthening the durability. Selenium also strengthens nails, hair, and teeth. Furthermore, selenium itself is a powerful antioxidant which gets rid of free radicals in the body (29).

The minerals which are found in shrimp such as phosphorus, calcium, zinc and even vitamin D also help a lot in establishing strong bones and general bone health (29).

Shrimp contains elements of B-vitamin complex such as B12 and B3. Vitamin B12 helps in the production of energy, formation of blood, synthesis of DNA and formation of myelin –the fatty substance around brain cells. Vitamin B3 or niacin is known to increase the levels of the good cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Deficiency of vitamin B3 leads to a condition known as

Pellagra which is characterized by dementia, dermatitis, and insomnia among others (29).

Bottom Line: This dish is made of a shrimp in tomato sauce. It has high levels of proteins, low calories and loaded with antioxidants.

13. Souvlaki

Souvlaki is a common Greek fast food which is simply made up of small meat pieces which are grilled on a skewer. Normally, it is served in a pita wrap or with grilled bread with the inclusion of sauces and garnishes, or just on a plate of fried potatoes. In Greece, meat used to make souvlaki is usually pork but beef, lamb, and chicken are also used in other countries.

Meat is rich in so many nutrients like B-vitamins, iron, and proteins (30). Proteins are important for the body as they generally improve the overall health and one's well-being. They also aid in the repair of body tissues and production of antibodies which the n protect the body from infections, thus strengthening the immune system. Most notably, meat is one of the best protein sources since it contains all the essential amino acids.

Meat consumption has also been linked with adding muscle mass. This is an important property especially for adults at a greater age (31).

Nowadays, souvlaki is often sold at fast-food Greek restaurants alongside pitas and fries. Alternatively, it can be served with a salad for a healthier meal.

Bottom Line: Souvlaki is a fast food simply made of small pieces of mostly pork meat grilled on a skewer. The benefits of this food, therefore, circles around the benefits of meat such as richness of proteins and B-vitamins.

14. Spanakorizo

Traditionally, spanakorizo is made up of a spinach and rice and is usually served with lemon, olive oil, and feta cheese. This meal can be served as the main dish or as a side dish.

Spinach ranks among the most nutritious vegetables one can find. A cup or 30 grams of spinach contains the following nutrients in percentages of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) (32).

  • Iron: 5%

  • Potassium: 5%

  • Folic acid: 15%

  • Vitamin A: 56%

  • Vitamin K: 181%

  • Vitamin C: 14%

Spinach is also rich in antioxidants which as have been mentioned help to counter free radicals and prevent their adverse effects mainly cell damage (25).

Spinach has a good content of lutein and zeaxanthin which improves sight and eye-health; and quercetin which reduces inflammation and fights infections (33, 34).

The spinach also has a high content of B-vitamins and minerals like selenium, manganese, and iron (35). However, iron sourced from plants is not as well absorbed as meat sourced iron. Fortunately, the citric acid and vitamin C found in the lemon help to boost the absorption of the plant-sourced iron from this food (36).

Bottom Line: Spanakorizo is a dish of spinach and rice served with lemon, olive oil, and feta cheese. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid and iron. It also has a high amount of oxidants which promote eye health, reduce inflammation and counter infections.

15. Tzatziki

Tzatziki is served with grilled meat as a sauce or sometimes as a dip. It is made from straining yogurt (from sheep or goat milk) or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers and also olive oil. Tzatziki is more creamy and thicker than the normal yogurt because it has been strained to get rid of liquid whey. The Greeks used to strain the yogurt in order to minimize the water content and increase durability.

However, the lactose content of is lowered and the protein content increased by the straining. 10 grams of proteins can be obtained from just 100 grams of tzatziki.

Proteins are important nutrients for achieving weight loss and can help reduce appetite, increase metabolism and regulate hunger hormones (37).

Bottom Line: Tzatziki is a common dip made with Greek yogurt and cucumbers. It has high protein content and low in calorie content. It can help reduce appetite, increase metabolism and to regulate the hunger hormones.

Super Healthy and Savory Greek Recipes

Greek cuisine is both delicious and healthy. Preparation of Greek food is fun too as it uses ingredients which are commonly available apart from some exceptions. The following are some recipes you can try out if you want to have that Greece taste at home and also achieve some healthy bonuses which come along with these meals.

1. Baked sardines

The most challenging thing that you could encounter in this recipe is probably only obtaining fresh sardines (39). Otherwise, the dish is a favorite in Greece and is quite easy to prepare.

Ingredients

900 grams (2 pounds) of fresh sardines

½ cup of Greek extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt (to taste)

2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 tablespoon of oregano

½ lemon (juice only)

For the tomato sauce

1/3 cup of Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 finely chopped onion

1 diced tomato

½ cup of hot water

Salt and pepper (to taste)

4 garlic cloves

3 grated ripe tomatoes

Procedure

Carefully arrange the fish in a manner such that they slightly overlap each other. Marinate by drizzling the extra virgin olive oil, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper. Cover.

Add the 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1 onion to a sauté pan on medium heat. Cook until the onion is soft and glossy.

Add all the garlic cloves and sauté for some more minutes.

Add the grated tomatoes and also the diced tomato and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat until the mixture turns to a boil.

Add the ½ cup of hot water and once more bring the mixture to a boil.

Once the mixture has boiled, turn down the heat and leave it to simmer until the tomato sauce has thickened.

Leave the tomato sauce to cool down completely then pour it all over the sardines. Sprinkle it with parsley and drizzle a little more extra virgin oil.

Bake for around 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F (200C) degrees.

It is advisable to check from time to time when baking to know whether the sauce needs some help by adding some water.

2. Fakes soupa

Out of all legumes and nuts, legumes have the third highest score in protein content. This traditional and super healthy Greek food is a way to promote healthier eating habits as well as experience the exquisite taste of lentils (fakes) coupled with the great nutritional benefits. They are simple to prepare and is one of the most popular Greek foods especially during winter (40)

Ingredients

500 grams (17 ounces) of brown lentils (fakes)

5 cups of clean water

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon of wine vinegar

½ cup of olive oil

2 finely chopped cloves of garlic

1 chopped small red onion

1 tablespoon of tomato purée (optional)

Salt and pepper taste.

Procedure

Wash the lentils thoroughly and soak them in water for around 2 hours or alternatively add them into a deep pan and boil them with water over high heat. As soon as they are boiled, drain them into a colander.

Warm the water in a pan over medium-low heat and then add the lentils, the chopped onions, and the bay leaves. Let them simmer with the lid for about 25 minutes.

Add the red wine vinegar and the olive oil and then season with the salt and pepper to preferred taste. 1 tablespoon of tomato paste can be added if you prefer a reddened Greek lentil soup.

Boil the soup for another 15 minutes until it thickens. It is important however to keep in mind that different kinds of lentils take different amounts of time to cook. It is therefore recommended to keep checking whether they are cooked.

Once cooked, this dish of delicious fakes soupa is served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of red wine vinegar. Top it with some feta cheese crumbs and enjoy!

3. Melitzanosalata

This Greek dip is simply just the perfect meze platter, addition, meaty dish delicacy or just a meal on its own. This is the simplest of the many ways of preparing the eggplant which is the major ingredient of the dish (41).

Ingredients

4 large purple eggplants

1 crushed clove garlic

4 tablespoons of lemon juice

½ red onion

½ cup of olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

Procedure

Wash the eggplant in a preheated oven at 200C. Whether to bake them whole or sliced is optional depending on how much time you have. However, if you prefer to bake them whole, you should use a fork to make some holes on the aubergines, place them on a tray and bake them for about an hour.

Remove them from the oven and peel them to leave only their flesh. Dice the pulp.

Vigorously mix the pulp with the other ingredients in a large bowl using a wooden spoon. To obtain a creamier texture of the dish, place the ingredients in a blender or a food processor and pulse, adding the olive oil little by little in a steady stream.

Let the melitzanosalata to cool down and put it in the fridge to allow the flavors to mix.

Serve your melitzanosalata garnished with a whole black olive in a small bowl and enjoy.

4. Dolmades

Stuffed grape leaves might present a headache to a beginner but once you get the hang of it, they are easy to make. They taste better than any that you could possibly buy in any shop (42).

Ingredients

120 grams (4 ¼ oz.) cooked long-grain rice

250 grams (8 ¾ oz.) minced lamb meat

250 grams (8 ¾ oz.) preserved drain vine leaves

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of tomato purée

3 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of celery, finely chopped

1 finely chopped small onion

1 lemon (juice only)

2 sliced garlic cloves

2 sliced tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste.

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Combine the rice, onion, meat, herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl to make the filling. Fold in the tomato purée.

Take one grape leaf and place it vein side up on the plate. Heap the center of the leaf near the stem edge with a full teaspoon of the filling. Fold up the stem end over the filling then fold both sides towards the middle and roll up. Take caution when rolling to make it too tight as the rice inside needs expansion space when cooked.

Place a layer of tomato slices or left over grape vine leaves on the base of an ovenproof dish to shield the stuffed leaves from burning.

Arrange the stuffed leaves on top while inserting pieces of garlic between them. Sprinkle lemon juice and add about 150ml cold water (5 ¼ fl oz.). Use oiled foil to cover.

Place them in the oven for about 45 minutes and if necessary add water. Serve and enjoy.

5. Souvlaki with tzatziki sauce

This is a combination of two foods that are very rich in nutrition as well as a delicacy to experience. Souvlaki is commonly treated as a fast-food but with the tzatziki sauce, it can be enjoyed as a meal in the comfort of your home (43).

Ingredients

¼ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

2 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 ½ pounds chicken without bones and skin, cut into small pieces equal to a bite.

For the sauce

1 container (6 ounces) Greek yogurt.

½ peeled, seeded and grated cucumber.

2 teaspoons of white vinegar

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 minced garlic clove

1 pinch of salt

Wooden skewers.

Procedure

Add all the ingredients for the souvlaki including the chicken into a resealable bag. Coat with marinade, get rid of excess air and seal the bag. Put in the refrigerator for 2 hours to marinate.

Add all the sauce ingredients into a ball and mix. Refrigerate the tzatziki sauce for the flavors to blend for like 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly oil the grate of a medium-high preheated outdoor grill and soak the wooden skewers for about 15 minutes in a bowl of water.

Remove chicken from marinade and then thread the pieces onto the soaked skewers. The excess marinade should be discarded.

Cook on the skewers on the grill, turning until they are browned on all sides and the pink in the center of the chicken is not visible anymore, approximately 8 minutes per side. Serve them with tzatziki sauce and enjoy.

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