Whilst holidaying in Greece and doing a whole lot of nothing (minus eating) I realised why the locals seemed content – it must be the food! Well, the outlook isn’t too bad either…
Greek cuisine is fresh, tasty and super healthy, which must explain why they live for so long. Meals are centred around vegetables, hard cheeses (read feta), whole grains, fish, a bit of red meat and a tonne of olive oil. Evidently the lack of processed food and sugar keeps the Greeks full of life, which is unsurprising! During my time on Kalymnos, a beautiful Greek island accessed by boat, I was also impressed by the focus on local food and the community. Trucks weighed down with fresh produce made home visits for those unable to trek up and down the steep slopes of the island and every restaurant was a family affair, with multiple generations acting as waiters and chefs.
One evening my family and I created a Greek style BBQ, which meant lots of kebabs and delicious local sausages.
As part of this I made some lovely side dishes, namely chickpea fritters (“Pitaroudia”, a peasant dish from Rhodes) and roasted tomatoes (less exotic = thanks Delia). The fritters are super simple to make and very economical, yet provide a hit of flavour. They are great as a side dish or would be perfect for a light meal served with salad and cheese.
The tomatoes tasted ridiculously good (partly due to the produce being superior to English tommies!) and again simple, healthy and very attractive. Alongside the meat and sides, there was of course tzatziki and Greek salad… it wouldn’t be traditional without them! The feast was thoroughly enjoyable and very low fructose, which is why I am sharing some of the recipes with you beautiful people out there. So think of the sun, put on ‘Mamma Mia’ and enjoy your Greek goodies!
Ingredients Makes 12
450g dried chickpeas
1 large onion, chopped
Handful mint, chopped
1tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying
- Soak the chick peas overnight to soften them. Place in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil
- Lower heat and simmer the chick peas for one 90 minutes. Rinse and strain
- Place the chick peas in a food processor and pulse until they resemble a mashed potato like mixture
- Combine the ground chickpeas with the onion, mint, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add enough flour to make a thick mixture that can be shaped into patties
- Take two tablespoons of the chickpea mixture at a time and shape into large patties. Heat about a half an inch of oil in a heavy based frying pan
- Cover each patty lightly in flour and fry until golden, flipping to cook on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels
Delia’s Roasted Tomatoes
Ingredients Serves 6
12 large tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (and extra for drizzling at the end!)
12 fresh basil leaves
24 black olives
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and leave for 1 minute. Drain, and as soon as they are cool enough to hold, slip off the skins.
- Cut each tomato in half, place the halves in a roasting pan (cut side up), season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on the garlic, distributing evenly
- Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, then top each one with half a basil leaf
- Place the roasting pan in the top half of the oven and roast for 50 minutes
- Drizzle with olive oil and serve either hot or cold… be sure to mop up the excess liquid with crusty bread!