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Greek food, the mother of vegetarian cuisine

When cooking vegetarian dishes, Greek food may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, did you know that Ancient Greek cuisine was predominantly vegan?

Traditionally, in the build-up to Greek easter, one avoids meat and dairy. This has lead to an abundance of naturally vegan and vegetarian dishes, cooked at home and in local restaurants to this day. Here are some of our favourites:

Revithada (chickpea stew)

Revithada, a simple yet delicious traditional dish, is originally from the island of Sifnos. One of the lesser-known Greek islands, Sifnos boasts beautiful scenery as well as some of the nation’s finest culinary treasures. For chickpea stew, all you need are some dried chickpeas, salt and pepper, baking soda, sage leaves and olive oil. To spice it up, you can even add some feta cheese for that extra tangy flavour. Once baked in the oven, you have yourself a hearty and nutritious, naturally vegetarian dish!

Spanakopita (spinach pie)

One of the most popular Greek dishes, spanakopita is a savoury spinach pie which has existed in Greek cuisine for over 400 years. A delicious mix of spinach, egg, herbs and feta cheese forms the inside of crispy, golden filo pastry – the exterior of the pie. Spanakopita can be served warm or at room temperature, and is perfect as a light lunch or appetiser before your main meal. For inspiration, you can take a look at our traditional recipe.

Fasolakia ladera (braised green beans)

Fasolakia ladera is a traditional vegan main which yaya (grandmother) often cooks at home and is a staple at Greek tavernas. It belongs to the ‘ladera’ Greek dishes: foods cooked in olive oil that form a vital part of the Mediterranean diet. The recipe uses green beans, tomatoes and potatoes, making it packed with nutrients. For best results, the trick is not to overcook the green beans; otherwise they can lose their nutrients and look mushy!

Dakos salad

Everyone has heard of Greek salad, but have you ever tried dakos salad? The dish originates from the island of Crete, famous for its exquisite cuisine. It is traditionally made from barley rusks topped with juicy chopped tomatoes and feta cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil, add capers if you like and you have an appetiser, light main or side salad all in one dish. For an idyllic summer meal, serve with a glass of cold rosé wine.

 

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