Understanding Greek cuisine is fairly easy with most culinary experts agreeing that Greek cooking is mainly about simplicity; simple recipes, fresh produce, and passion.
Most Greek dishes are based on a few key ingredients and there is not much which is bottled or packaged, however, there are some products that we always keep in our fridge and pantry. This is by no means a complete list but it will definitely get you started!
Extra virgin olive oil makes the top of the list of must have Greek food ingredients. It is a staple to Greek cooking and the most popular type of oil used across the country- from starters and salads to bbq’s and mains, you always need olive oil to create Greek dishes.
The main herb in a Greek pantry is Greek oregano. From adding it to your lemon potatoes, to seasoning your octopus and salads- it’s Greece’s most loved herb. You want oregano, preferably freshly picked and dried, however if you can’t grow it yourself, you can find Greek oregano in specialty stores and delis around the world.
Feta cheese is a staple in the Greek kitchen; almost all meals are served with a side of Feta and it is used in traditional pites (handmade pies) including Tiropita (cheese pie) and Spanakopita (spinach pie) ,as well as in popular dishes such as Prawn Saganaki.
Many traditional Greek meals have legumes as their key ingredient and Greeks do prefer using dried legumes. The most popular are lentils, gigantes, white beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas, which are used in stews, soups and salads.
Lemons really are a must in the Greek kitchen. They add acidity to many dishes, from roast potatoes to grilled fish. Ladolemono (olive oil and lemon juice) is used as a marinade and a dressing on seafood and salads. Lemon juice is also added to mostly everything from meats to fried cheese and is also included in many Greek desserts, especially in the syrup based sweets. And lets not forget Avgolemono, which is Greece’s famous egg and lemon sauce.
Greek sea salt is naturally rich in minerals, which makes it so delicious. Learn to season food, especially with sea salt. This is one of the most important techniques in Greek cooking. However, the seasoning should not be overpowering.
Honey is used in many popular Greek pastries and it is one of Greece’s most popular sweeteners. Honey is always on the Greek breakfast table- great to spread on toast and add to your tea!
Traditional Greek yogurt is a must in our pantry. It can be used a base for dips, as well as marinades. It also makes for an ideal sweet treat on its own with walnuts and honey.
Tomatoes are another staple in the Greek household and are used in the Greek kitchen from breakfast through to dinner. From simple dishes such as a traditional Greek salad to red based sauces, and the famous Strapatsada breakfast dish, tomatoes are a key ingredient to many Greek recipes.
You will find most Greek households have pastry in their freezer, as this allows you to quickly create a sweet or savoury pie. From cheese and spinach to custard pies and the famous baklava- filo is a key component.
Cover image Getty Images