What to Eat: Light Greek Meal

With the heavy summer air settling in, keep cool with tzatziki, artichoke soup, classic spinach squares, and more satisfying Greek recipes.

06.01.10 8:55 PM ET

Artichoke Soup Avgolemono
by Crescent Dragonwagon

It’s an original pairing—artichokes with avgolemono soup—but this chef says the ingredients are soul mates.

The name of this soup is quite a mouthful, but actually translates quite simply to “egg and lemon.” The flavors of egg and lemon are classics in the Greek repertoire, as are the flavors of artichoke and lemon, so why not throw them all together? This soup is thick and creamy without being heavy, flavorful without being overpowering, and velvety without the addition of cream. It’s also great served either hot or cold, so you can enjoy it however best suits you (and the weather).

Click here for the recipe.

Joseph DeLeo

by Jim Botsacos and Judith Choate

A direct descendent of the Mediterranean motherland shares a recipe for a multipurpose Greek-fare staple.

Perhaps the most classic of all mezes—those delectable small plates that are one of the hallmarks of Greek cuisine—tzatziki is so simple and delicious it’s nearly a revelation. Thick yogurt is mixed with grated cucumber, olive oil, garlic, and fresh mint and dill, for a bright, tangy, herby, creamy, and all-around delicious snack. Serve tzatziki with soft warmed pita bread, crisp pita chips, or vegetable crudités for dipping.

Click here for the recipe.

Cheesy Spinach Squares
by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner

The way to a guest diner’s heart? One taste of this savory, divine dish.

If you’ve been to a wedding in the last three decades, chances are you’ve had some version of spanikopita, the light, flaky, subtly spiced spinach and cheese pie. And chances are, too, that it was mostly phyllo—and not so heavy on the filling, perhaps soggy, maybe even originally frozen; after consuming your little bite you walked around with spinach in your teeth all evening. Spinach in the teeth is a hazard with this dish, but this version is well worth the potential embarrassment. The phyllo cooks until golden, crisp, and flaky, and the cheesy spinach filling is addictive, to say the least.

Click here for the recipe.

Joseph DeLeo

Grilled Whole Fish in Grape Leaves
by Susanna Hoffman

Living part of the year in Greece gives this chef an edge on the competition when it comes to cooking great Greek food—so take this recipe from the master and enjoy.

“As much as Americans delight in fish fillets and fish steaks,” says Greek cuisine expert Susanna Hoffman, “Greeks relish their fish whole. Cooks eye the array the fishermen have brought in, picking the one they will slide before kin or client. Waiters exhibit trays of the whole fish offered that day as soon as diners sit. Other restaurants display the catch in glass cases. In the lineup there might be a red mullet, gem of the Aegean—famous for its flavor and its high price—stretched next to a mackerel, a bream, or a sea bass. The Greeks are absolutely right: There’s nothing quite like an entire fish, cooked bone-in, opened on the plate, fragrant steam rising.” We have to agree with that.

Click here for the recipe.

Joseph DeLeo

Layered Phyllo Dough with Pistachios and Rose Water Syrup
by Jennifer Felicia Abadi

Make sure to leave room for dessert—this is baklava like you’ve never had it before.

A classic dessert throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, baklava ranges from light to dense, filled with walnuts or pistachios, so sweet it will make your teeth ache or so sweet you’ll just have one more, please. This version is made with rose-water syrup, lending a particularly inviting sweet aroma to the pistachio-filled treats.

Click here for the recipe.

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