Category Archives: Main course

Makaronada me saltsa yiaourtiou / Macaroni and meat stew with yogurt sauce

Sounds strange, right? Warm macaroni and meat stew with a cold yoghurt and garlic sauce… It is absolutely heavenly! Quick to make, and the mild macaroni, the powerful stew and the intense garlic-flavoured (and fragrant) yogurt sauce is a wonderful combination. As I’ve said repeatedly before, the Greeks are the experts in putting together a few simple ingredients and create exciting, tasty food. I use mint in my yogurt sauce when I make this with lamb, and oregano when I use beef. You can sprinkle some cheese on top of the dish as well, but I actually think it’s better without. (And there are very few things I think is better without cheese.)

  • 350 g minced lamb or beef
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 100 ml water
  • 250 g macaroni
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 250 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 4 mashed or pressed garlic cloves
  • dried or fresh oregano or mint
  • salt and pepper

Fry meat and onion in oil. When it is brown add a little water and let it simmer without a lid. Cook until the sauce is just moist, not watery. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. While the meat simmers, cook the macaroni and make yogurt sauce: Boil macaroni according to package directions. When it is ready strain and stir in the butter, until the macaroni is completely covered. Mix the garlic, yogurt, mint/oregano and salt to taste. Layer macaroni, meat and yogurt sauce on plates and enjoy!

For 2 persons


Methismeno kotopoulo / Drunken chicken

No, you don’t have to feed chicken alcohol, poor little thing (the chicken, that is), but you must buy large, juicy chicken breast, cut them in cubes and put them in a marinade of white wine and ouzo.

The first time I ate chicken made in this way was at a lovely taverna in Nafplio called Epi Skinis, and no matter where I’ve been in Greece every since – if I find it (very occasionally) on the menu I order it.
There are, as with most Greek recipes, a myriad of variations, and as long as the chicken’s marinade contains alcohol, it’s called Methismeno kotopoulo. So you may well vary the dish, depending on the contents of your liquor cabinet. I once made Methismeno kotopoulo with cognac instead of ouzo and dark beer instead of wine, and that tasted lovely too. (Not to brag, of course.)
Epi Skinis serves this as a meze, but there is nothing wrong with serving it as a main dish, either, with rice or fried potatoes and lots of greens. I think a mixture of broccoli and green beans taste good.

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • For the marinade:
  • 20 ml olive oil
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 50 ml ouzo
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, add the chicken pieces and marinate 1 to 2 hours.
Strain the chicken, but save the marinade.
Heat the butter and brown the chicken quickly and easily. Add tomato puree and let it fry a few seconds, add the marinade. Cook, uncovered, a few minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Main course for 2, meze for more.

Papoutsakia / Small shoes

Papoutsakia, small shoes, isn’t that an adorable name for a dish? Papoutsakia are baked eggplants, scooped out, filled with a meat ragout, topped with cheese sauce, and baked again. And these filled eggplant halves look like small shoes. Perhaps you have eaten moussaka in Greece, and papoutsakia contains the same ingredients – you can almost say that papoutsakia are moussaka made in serving portions. But for some reason, papoutsakia taste much better than the moussaka, I think.

  • 2 eggplants
  • olive oil
  • 200 grams ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 ripe, large tomato
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • a splash of water
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • possibly a small sprinkle of cinnamon if you like it
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • (Eggplant pulp)
  • Cheese Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 300 ml milk
  • a little nutmeg
  • salt, pepper
  • 150 ml tasty, grated cheese and 50 ml more to sprinkle on top

Wash eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise with a knife. Brush them with olive oil. Bake them v 180 degrees C for 35 minutes. Brown beef in olive oil. Add the onion and garlic at the end. Grate the tomato, throw away the peel and add the tomato pulp and juice to the pan, together with the tomato paste and spices. Then add a little water, but not too much, you want a thick ragout. Cook for 45 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Melt the butter for the cheese sauce, stir in the flour and add the milk little by little, until you have a thick white sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and simmer for five minutes. Remove sauce from heat and add cheese.

Hollow out the eggplants with a spoon, leave a rind of pulp, something like 1 cm, all along the peel. Chop the eggplant flesh you have dug out, and mix half (or all, if you want) with the ragout. Fill the ragout in the aubergines and top with cheese sauce and the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake at 220 degrees C, until cheese is melted and golden, about 15 min. Eat with bread and salad.
For 2

PS: If you are among those who think eggplants get a bit too gel-like consistency after they are baked, you can replace them with large baking potatoes and do exactly the same. Divide potatoes in two, bake them in foil until soft, and proceed as the recipe says. Some use potatoes in the moussaka too, so doing it this way is not a criminal offense.

Ladera / Vegetable stew with olive oil

Ladera is a generic term for vegetables (and other foods) cooked in oil, and this is really traditional fare. Ladera is eaten all year, but is especially popular during Lent, when many Greeks don’t eat meat. Peas, carrots and potatoes, like in this recipe, are common in a ladera, as are artichoke hearts, peppers, tomatoes, beans – depending on what is in season. One, two or three vegetables cooked together and eaten, often as a main dish, in company with feta cheese and bread. But the ladera can of course also be served as an accompaniment to meat or fish. Dill is often used as spice, but especially with mint, peas are more than usable, and parsley goes with more or less everything. The recipe below is just a starting point, experiment with different vegetables and herbs.

I add quite a lot of water and thus less oil when I cook ladera, to limit the number of calories. If that’s no problem for you, simply use more oil, less water, and the ladera will be even better. Also be aware that the ladera should cook quite a while, in other words, the vegetables will be really soft – over cooked some will say. But that’s the way it should be.

  • 50 ml olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 200 g peas, frozen or fresh
  • 3 carrots into small pieces
  • 2 regular potatoes in slightly larger pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1.5 ml water
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • feta cheese and bread for serving

Heat oil and fry the onion so it becomes soft but not brown. Add the rest, except dill. Simmer for 45 minutes under a lid, stirring occasionally. Add the dill. Eat  the ladera warm or lukewarm, with bread and feta.

For 2 as main course, 4 as a side dish.

Kourkouto me kolokithia / Squash pie

Squash pie, zucchini cake, I do not know exactly what to call this heavenly mix of squash, leek and cheese, but the name isn’t really important when it comes to good food. Directly translated kourkouto means something like (cake) batter. Eat the pie / cake as an main course, along with a fresh tomato salad and a piece of bread, or as an accompaniment to grilled chicken. The recipe is borrowed from the fantastic Greek food blog kalofagas, but with a few changes, the most important being that I use more cheese in my kourkouto. For nothing is much better than cheese. And by the way, if you want you can fry some bacon and add to the batter before baking the pie. Seriously good!

  • 1 small leek, finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini/squash, about 350 grams, cut 4 thin slices, chop the rest
  • 0,3 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 0,3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0,3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 0,5 cup feta cheese, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup kasseri *, grated
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • pepper and perhaps salt

Sweat leek and squash (except slices) in oil for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the batter: Beat eggs; add flour and baking powder, then yoghurt. Stir well and add the cheese, along with dill. Stir in the vegetables. Season with pepper and paprika, the cheese is probably so salty that you do not need a lot, if any, extra salt. Pour into a greased, small baking dish. Top with the squash slices, sprinkle a little paprika on top, and bake at 175 degrees C for about 50 minutes.

Let the pie / cake stand fifteen minutes before you eat it, but if you wait until it has room temperature, it’s absolutely fine too.

To 2 as main course, 4 as a side dish.

* Kasseri is a lovely, tasty but not strong, Greek cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. If you are lucky you have a fantastic cheese shop near you, to find an adequate replacement is not easy. However, provolone, cheddar or graviera will probably also taste excellent in this dish.

Garides saganaki / shrimps in a pan

Saganaki is the name of a small frying pan, so this dish – and others – is named after the pan they are made in, like Saganaki cheese, for example. I’ve used ordinary shrimps in this dish, but a bigger variety is more common in Greece, so use whatever you like and can find. Furthermore, I use dried celery leaves. If they can’t be found in any shop near you, make sure to get a box or ten next time you or someone you know is going to Greece. Celery leaves can be purchased in all the supermarkets here.

  • 600 gr shrimps
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 coarsely chopped red onion
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • A tiny bit of chilli pepper
  • ½ fish stock cube
  • celery leaves or oregano (dried)
  • some sugar?
  • salt, pepper
  • 125 to 150 grams feta cheese

Peel the shrimps. Fry the onion in olive oil about 10 minutes over low heat until it just begins to brown, add the finely chopped or crushed garlic cloves in the end. Pour in white wine and let it cook fiercely a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Season, and be careful with the chilli, this is not a hot dish. Simmer uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, then with a lid, for a total of about 45 min. If the tomatoes and the wine are somewhat sour, you can add a little sugar.

Cut the cheese into cubes and add almost all of them to the sauce along with the shrimps. Heat, but do not boil. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over, and serve with crusty bread.

For 2

Makeronada me saltsa domatas / pasta with tomato sauce

No, pasta with tomato sauce is not a unique Greek dish, but pasta with tomato sauce visits the Greek dinner tables quite often. This delicious sauce contains typical Greek ingredients such as ouzo and olives or capers, and can be made while the pasta cooks. The typical Greek way is to eat this, is to load up your plate with pasta and just add a little sauce on top. In other words, it is important that the sauce has lots of flavour.

Sauce for 1 person:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ouzo
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • dried oregano
  • olives or capers
  • salt, pepper
  • In addition, you need pasta and grated cheese, any kind you like.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

Heat the oil, but not too much, and add the garlic. The garlic should not brown, just soften a little. Add the ouzo and simmer for one minute. Add tomato puree, water and spices, and as much olives or capers as you want. Let this simmer without a lid, waiting for the pasta to be ready – here I assume that you’ll use pasta that cooks in 10 – 15 minute. Eat the food with a lot of cheese, and then some more cheese.

As a variation, you can brown some chicken pieces in the oil before adding the garlic.

Sofrito Kerkiraiko / Sofrito from Corfu

Google sofrito, and you’ll find a confusing lot of hits, because dishes by that name are made in almost the whole Mediterranean area, in Cuba, Puerto Rico… The list is long, but the ingredients are not the same everywhere. Greek sofrito comes from Corfu, which may well mean that the dish came to Greece via Italy – and now  a history lecture could follow, but it won’t. Sofrito can be tender veal with a sauce of white wine or vinegar, garlic and parsley, or as here, lamb or beef cooked long in these ingredients.

This recipe is actually stolen from Myrsini Lambraki, a known Greek cookbook author and TV chef, but she uses only white vinegar in her recipe, I use only white wine. Many sofrito recipes are with white wine, so I really do not cheat, I just am of the opinion that meat cooked in vinegar… not so great. But in white wine it’s fantastic!

  • 1 kg boneless pot roast beef or lamb
  • 0,4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup stock (water + cube is ok)

Cut meat into cubes, about 2 x 2 cm. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a large bag and shake the meat well in this, make sure all pieces are completely covered with flour. Heat the olive oil and butter in a thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, and brown the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer under lid until the meat is really tender, about 1 to 1.5 hours. The sauce should be thick by then, remove the lid if not. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with rice and / or cooked vegetables.

For 4.

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Gigantes Ston Fournos / baked butter beans

Many Greek dishes take time to make, but they are not very labour intensive. They pretty much take care of themselves, boiling on the stove or baking in the oven. Gigantes Ston Fournos is such a dish, needing both boiling and baking, and the beans even have to soak overnight. But it’s really yummy in the end!

A few words about the beans: Gigantes are large, dried beans, we call them lima beans or butter beans. The longer the beans have been dried, the longer cooking time they need, and so it is difficult to specify the exact time. But start by following the instructions in the recipe, and taste your way. The beans should be completely soft, like butter (hence the name, I guess) when they are ready.

  • 2 cups Gigantes / butter beans
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 grated, ripe tomato, or 1 / 2 tin of tomatoes
  • ½ litre water
  • 1 bunch parsley, or celery leaves if you can find them, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pepper
  • ▪ salt

Place the beans in water overnight. They swell a lot, so use plenty of water in a large bowl.

Heat oil, fry the onion until it just begins to brown, add tomato puree, tomato, water and all the spices except salt. Be careful, it can splutter if the oil is too hot! Cook the sauce for 20 minutes.

Drain the beans, boil them in new water for 20 minutes, and drain again. Mix the beans and tomato sauce and pour this in a wide, ovenproof dish. Bake at 190 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours. Turn the beans occasionally and add more boiling water if it seems dry. Season with salt when the beans are soft and the dish ready. Eat warm or at room temperature, as a main dish or mezé.


Pastitsio is called “Greece’s answer to lasagna”, but pasta has been made in Greece at least as long as in Italy, so for all we know, maybe lasagna’s Italy’s answer to pastitsio… Well, it doesn’t really matter, what’s important is that this is really tasty food. The Greeks eat it lukewarm or cold, to enhance the flavour.

  • 600 g minced beef or lamb, or half of each
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 0.75 cup red wine
  • 1 small can tomato paste (150 g)
  • 1 cup water or stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or mashed
  • salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, oregano
  • 400 g bucatini (thick, hollow spaghetti – or use penne or macaroni)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt, pepper
  • 1,5 cup grated cheese, such as Graviera or Gruyere or whatever you like
  • optional: 0,5 cup dried breadcrumbs

Brown the meat in oil while you crumble it well. Add the onion at the end. Pour over the wine and let it boil for a bit. Stir in tomato paste, water/stock, garlic and spices. Be careful with the cinnamon, a tiny sprinkle is enough.

Cook the sauce for a long time, preferably a couple of hours, but certainly at least a half. The sauce should be thick, like porridge.

Cook the bucatini according to package directions.

Melt butter and stir in flour for the white sauce. Gradually add the milk little by little, and simmer the sauce for five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the grated cheese, the sauce should not boil after this stage.

NOTE: If you want an even more authentic pastitsio, you can double the amount of sauce ingredients, except cheese, and add a couple of eggs at the end. But I prefer the version above.

Butter or oil an ovenproof dish. Pour half the pasta in the bottom, layer the meat sauce on top of it, and the rest of the pasta on top of the meat. Pour over

the cheese sauce, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs (if used) over the cheese sauce. Bake at 180 degrees C for about 40 minutes.

Let the pastitsio rest for half an hour on the kitchen counter before you eat it, with a salad and some crusty bread.

For 6