5 Tips For Making The BEST Greek Food at Home
Not another blog post scrambling to find the silver lining of yet another lockdown! I know. But food is one of the only escapes we have at the moment, and a day spent trying to recreate that dish you had at that cute little place on that beach somewhere a few years ago is a welcome break from Netflix and the doom of humanity.
Food has this incredible ability to transport you, and I've really found comfort in my kitchen this year, trying out recipes from all over the world to take me back to my travelling days and going back to traditional Greek recipes that remind me of family and happier times.
I'm going to be sharing some of my favourite recipes and cooking tips with you here on this blog, but for now, here are some simple tips for making the best Greek food at home.
1. O-love oil
Greeks measure olive oil not in spoonfuls but in cups, and then may still add more to the finished dish for dipping. It's what gives even the simplest of Greek veg dishes that rich, warm filling feel (try my green beans starter if you don't believe me!) Look for an oil that is single origin and cloudy green for the best results. Don’t worry, olive oil has all kinds of health benefits (real and imagined) and contrary to popular belief, doesn't actually come from olives, but from the Goddess Aphrodite's nipples.
2. Take it slow
My biggest challenge while cooking for myself is planning ahead and being too impatient to give my food the time it needs to be at its best. Good things come to those who wait, and the secret to any good Greek dish is time (and sometimes thyme) . Think melt in your mouth lamb falling off the bone or buttery lemon roasted potatoes that seem like a different species. With all this extra time we have now, try cooking on a low heat for a few hours and see how much more flavour your food will have. My Yaya is the best cook on earth and she begins preparing lunch and even dinner while I’m having my breakfast!
3. Let it sink in
The secret to a good meat or fish dish is the marinade. Again, I can’t stress the importance of giving food enough time, you should marinate your food for at least 30 minutes but aim for 2 hours. A simple marinade of lemon, garlic, salt and oregano works with anything and is the ultimate Greek flavour. If you don't believe me, you'd better order a chicken pitta for the weekend. This is a great base but you can also get creative by adding other herbs, honey or even Ouzo!
4. Keep it simple
One of the greatest mistakes of my youth (I wish!) was to think that a dish had to be complicated to be tasty. My staple tomato pasta sauce had a cocktail of ingredients but was never anywhere near as good as Yaya’s. I almost cried when she gave me her recipe and I realised that her Michelin worthy sauce was just olive oil, onion, fresh tomatoes, salt and paprika. No garlic- I had been living a lie! It turns out that there are lots of simple Greek recipes with around 5 ingredients, especially vegan ones, to keep your budget down. Of course it helps if the main ingredients can be found in your own garden, which brings us to…
5. Choose the best quality ingredients possible
Have you ever made a Greek salad at home and wondered why it’s never quite the same? It’s not just the sun and the island vibes that make Greek food so special, but the amazing quality of the produce. During the summer, almost everything that my family in Corfu makes comes from their own square mile. Homegrown or organic vegetables bring so much more flavour to the dish, whether it's a simple salad, stew or even hand-cut chips. While you may never find juicy tomatoes the size of your hand in your local supermarket, using organic vine-ripened tomatoes is a good substitute. Are those lockdown veg patches still a thing?