Over recent years, Greek cuisine has soared in popularity; alongside it’s ever-popular Italian and Spanish counterparts, food lovers have immersed themselves in all that Greek dishes have to offer. Why? We can’t be entirely sure. Perhaps, because we’ve realised just how healthy Greek food is, or because renowned chefs like Gordan Ramsay have advocated for its unsung brilliance. In any instance, Greek food has come into its own here in the UK.
Discussing our growing fascination with delicious Greek dishes, Charlie Menegatos, owner of London restaurant chain Going Greek, says: “Being from a Greek heritage myself, I’ve always known just how delicious Greek food is. We celebrate fresh ingredients, fresh flavours and the foods we create really are incomparable; our salads are iconic for a reason, we highlight beautifully fresh ingredients and our gyros truly warrant no introduction. People have always liked Greek food but over recent years, as restaurants like Going Greek have become more common place, they’ve really come to recognise that Greek food is no second-place option.”
When it comes to experiencing true Greek delicacies, Charlie has some unmissable advice: “If you’re looking to visit a Greek restaurant and you want to sample authentic, delicious recipes, there are some dishes you should keep an eye out for. For example, moussakas are a traditional option that’ll leave you feeling like you’re sat round a Greek family’s dining room table, whilst gyro and souvlaki are crowd-pleasers which usually ring-true to the original – depending on where you go! Don’t be afraid to try explorative side dishes too; Greek beetroot salads are great, whilst hummus, feta chips, cheese pies, fava and ‘gigantes’ are additions you won’t be forgetting any time soon.”
Thankfully, you can also easily recreate Greek dishes from the comfort of your own home. If you’re lost for ideas but would like to explore Greek cuisine, consider these dish ideas – sourced directly from Going Greek’s team of talented chefs.
Charlie says: “To make traditional fava, you will need roughly 500g of yellow split peas. Rinse them in plenty of water and add caramelised onion, thyme, salt pepper, lemon juice and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes. When finished, whizz the fava through a food processor and drizzle with olive oil. If you like, you can also throw capers on top!”
Charlie explains: “There are an endless number of traditional Greek cheese pies in existence so if you’re wanting to make one at home, you needn’t worry about going wrong! One recipe uses filo pastry (we would recommend purchasing this if you’re new to the kitchen). To create the filling, crumble feta into a bowl with beaten eggs, adding three other kinds of cheese (of your choosing) and heavy cream. Then, add a little fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper and leave in the fridge to cool.
“Line a dish with your filo, leaving enough to fold over the top of your mixture. Butter the inside of your filo, fill, fold, and continue to add more filo sheets, adding butter or olive oil to each layer. This should add a lovely, crispy texture! Then, add the filling, bake your pie at 180 degrees for 45-50 minutes (until golden) and enjoy.”
Charlie says: “Again, there are lots of different types of Greek beetroot salads, however this one is particularly simple. Peel and rinse your beetroot and then, when cubed or sliced, mix with Greek yoghurt, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, a dash of vinegar, and some walnuts if you like! This recipe couldn’t be quicker and it’s wonderfully fresh.”
“Generally speaking, Greek food is popular because it’s light, refreshing and filled with flavour! If you’re going to a high-quality restaurant, or creating dishes at home, you certainly shouldn’t find yourself lacking flavour,” Charlie explains.
“With lean, chargrilled meats, fresh feta, Greece’s very best olive oils and centuries of history behind every dish, there’s no going wrong with traditional Greek staples. Plus, it’s healthy! I personally think that’s why Brits have fallen in love with Greek food; we’re more invested in our health and wellbeing than ever before and our dishes aren’t only great for your tastebuds – they nurture your body in more ways than one. Nothing is processed and everything is made with a careful attention to detail – that’s what you should always want from delicious food.
“If you’re new to the world of Greek cuisine, I encourage you to try some of our authentic dishes – or pop along to Going Greek. We’re incredibly proud of all that we’ve created and you’ll never look back.”