Can you name a Greek dish

Where the pepper grows - travel and dining

The cuisine of Greece is considered to be meat-heavy - but it has a lot to offer vegetarians. You will find what you are looking for with the so-called mezzedes, as Greek starters are called. Ten vegetarian recipes to cook at home.

Gyros, Moussaka, Souvlaki - Greek cuisine is considered to be meat-heavy. Nevertheless, it has a lot to offer vegetarians in culinary terms. Classic vegetarian main courses include briam, a kind of vegetable casserole, and spanakopita spinach strudel. But especially with the cold and warm mezzedes, as Greek starters are called, vegetarians will find what they are looking for. They are placed on the table in small portions and everyone can help themselves.

Many mezzedes can be prepared very quickly and easily by yourself. Here are ten recipes for vegetarian Greek starters. The numbering is not a valuation. We love them all!

Creamy, spicy, hot: feta cream with paprika is one of our mezzedes favorites - and tastes wonderful with marinated olives (see recipe number two) and pita bread (recipe number three)

Ingredients for about 250 milliliters of feta cream with paprika:

1 large red pepper
200 g feta (made from sheep or goat milk)
0.5 clove of garlic (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Greek yogurt (about ten percent fat)
0.25 tsp chilli flakes (Pul Biber)
Some salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Wash the peppers, quarter them and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet skin side up. Roast until the skin blisters and begins to turn black.
3. Remove the peppers and let them cool down. Then peel off the skin (not used) and chop the peppers.
4. Cut three quarters of the feta into small pieces. Peel and chop the (optional) garlic clove.
5. Process paprika, feta, olive oil, yoghurt and chilli flakes into a cream in a blender or with a hand blender.
6. Then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining finely chopped feta.

Olives are an indispensable part of Greek cuisine. Marinated with herbs and citrus fruits, they ensure an intense taste experience.

Ingredients:

250 g mixed green and black olives (pitted)
2 teaspoons each of fennel and cumin seeds
3 tbsp herbs of Provence (herbal mixture) plus possibly a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons each of orange, lime and lemon zest (from untreated fruits!)
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons each of orange, lime and lemon juice
125 ml dry white wine
125 ml of olive oil

Preparation of the marinated olives:

1. Drain the olives and let them dry.
2. Roast the fennel and cumin seeds in a pan without fat until they start to smell. Let cool down.
3. Rub or cut off zest from the citrus fruits and squeeze out the juice.
4. Peel and chop the garlic clove.
5. Mix all ingredients in a large glass with a screw cap and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for two to three days.
6. Remove from the liquid before serving, allow to reach room temperature and serve.

Pita breads are indispensable in a mezzedes selection. They can be coated with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic or oregano - and go ideally with feta cream with paprika or fava (see sixth recipe)

Ingredients for about eight pita breads:

500 g wheat flour (or a mixture of wheat and spelled flour)
1 teaspoon of sugar
45 g yeast
300 ml of lukewarm water
A bit of salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Preparation:

1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in lukewarm water in a bowl.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and knead everything into a firm dough. Cover and let rise for an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
4. Shape the dough into a roll about three centimeters thick and cut off about one centimeter thick slices. Roll out these small balls and let rise for another ten minutes.
5. Roll out the balls into a circle and place on a greased, floured tray. Bake in the oven for eight to ten minutes until the loaves puff up.

In Greece they are called Kolokithokeftedes. Since we can't remember this word, we'll just call them zucchini pancakes. Fresh mint and parsley give this Greek starter a unique, fresh taste

Ingredients for four people:

500 g small zucchini
salt
100 g grated kefalotiri (or other hearty cheese)
150 g breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 handful of parsley, washed and chopped
1 handful of mint, washed and chopped
pepper
1 onion
olive oil

Preparation of the zucchini buffers:

1. Cut the zucchini into large pieces and cook in salted boiling water for eight minutes.
2. Then drain and puree.
3. Mix in the cheese, 100 grams of breadcrumbs, egg, parsley and mint. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
4. Dice the onion and sauté in olive oil until translucent and add to the zucchini mixture.
5. Chill for 30 minutes. If necessary, prepare tzatziki in the meantime (see sixth recipe).
6. Form meatballs from the mixture. Turn in the remaining 50 grams of breadcrumbs. Bake until golden in hot oil. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Tzatziki is the icing on the cake, the ideal addition to zucchini pancakes. And there is hardly an easier mezzedes recipe

Ingredients tzatziki:

2 cloves of garlic
1 small cucumber
2 tbsp dill
360 g Greek yogurt (about ten percent fat)
Juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons of olive oil
salt and pepper

Preparation of tzatziki:

1. Wash and peel the cucumber. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Wash and finely chop the dill. Squeeze half a lemon.
2. Finely grate the cucumber and mix with the garlic pieces, dill, lemon juice, olive oil, yoghurt, salt and pepper.

Fava is on the menus all over Greece - and we are thievingly happy every time when our “favorite Greek” serves the pea cream with the mixed starters. Pita bread also goes wonderfully with this

Ingredients for about 350 grams of fava:

6 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
250 g fava peas or yellow peas
1.5 L water
salt and pepper
Capers and some lemon juice for serving

Preparation:

1. Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion pieces.
2. Add the fava peas and water, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. If the water has been used up in the meantime, add more. The peas are done when they have disintegrated into a kind of puree.
3. After the cooking time, let the pea puree cool down.
4. Then puree in a hand blender or with a hand blender with a little salt and pepper and three tablespoons of olive oil.
5. Serve with capers, lemon juice and extra olive oil.

Zucchini can be prepared quickly when fried in batter. In Greece, by the way, this vegetarian and even vegan mezzedes recipe is called Kolokythakia Tiganita. All right?

Ingredients for fried zucchini in batter:

2 zucchini and salt to remove the water from the vegetables
Another 0.5 tsp salt
90 g wheat flour
200 ml of mineral water
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Preparation:

1. Wash the zucchini, pat dry and cut into thin slices.
2. Salt the zucchini slices and set aside for 20 minutes. The vegetables leave quite a bit of water during this time. Then pour this away, rinse the zucchini briefly and pat dry.
3. Put the mineral water in a bowl, stir in the flour and salt until a smooth dough is formed.
4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
5. Dip the zucchini slices in the batter with a fork and then fry them.
6. Drain on kitchen paper, season with salt and serve.

Another great Greek starter is peppers stuffed with sheep cheese, so-called piperies florinis. You can't go wrong with the preparation

Ingredients for six peppers stuffed with sheep cheese:

6 red pointed peppers
200 g sheep cheese
2 tbsp olive oil and something for the baking sheet
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon each of dried mint or oregano

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a mold with aluminum foil. Brush the foil with a little oil.
2. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers.
3. Crumble the sheep cheese with a fork and mix with pepper, mint or oregano and olive oil.
4. Fill the peppers - but not all the way to the brim.
5. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes. Turn after 20 minutes. Check again and again whether the skin blisters and begins to turn black. Then you're done.
6. Then let it cool down and peel the skin off the pods.

Stuffed grape leaves are called dolmades in Greece. You can now find them in every supermarket in this country. But these homemade ones are really no comparison to the bought ones. Since they take some time to prepare and they can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, it is advisable to produce larger quantities

Ingredients:

2 onions
30 g pine nuts
150 g short grain rice
30 g currants
50 ml of olive oil
0.25 tsp ground pepper
0.5 tsp ground allspice
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp paprika powder
0.5 tsp ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp each of chopped dill and parsley
250 g of pickled vine leaves
250 ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation of the stuffed grape leaves:

1. Peel and finely chop the onions.
2. Fry the pine nuts in oil until golden brown, then add the onions and cook for about four minutes.
3. Add the rice and cook for two minutes.
4. Add tomato paste, the spices, currants, sugar, salt and enough water to evenly cover the contents of the pan. Bring to the boil with the lid closed, then turn off the stove and let everything stand for half an hour. Stir in dill and parsley and let cool.
5. Line a large saucepan with grape leaves.
6. Place a teaspoon of filling on each of the vine leaves and roll up tightly, folding the sides in.
7. Layer the rolls in the saucepan. Place a suitable plate upside down on top, pour in the vegetable stock and lemon juice. Put the lid on, bring to the boil and cook on a low heat for an hour. Let the rolls cool.

These two Greek salads are very similar. That is why we summarize them under one point. Both cowpea and lentil salads are high in protein, filling and not too powerful - perfect for warm summer days!

Ingredients for eight people:

250 g each of cowpeas or plate lentils
salt
2 cucumbers
2 red peppers
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
6 tbsp olive oil each
4 tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar
0.5 tsp salt each
0.25 teaspoons of white, ground pepper each
0.25 teaspoon each of chili powder

Preparation of the bean salad and lentil salad:

1. Soak the cowpeas or lentils separately in water for at least six hours - but preferably overnight.
2. Simmer both separately in salted water for about 40 minutes and then let cool down.
3. Wash the cucumbers, peel, cut in half, core, then quarter and cut into small pieces.
4. Wash and core the peppers and cut them into very small pieces.
5. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
6. Wash the parsley, shake dry and finely chop.
7. Mix the vegetables, parsley, onions and garlic evenly into the cowpeas or lentils.
8. Mix the olive oil and apple cider vinegar with salt, pepper and chili powder to make a dressing.
9. Pour the dressing over the two salads and mix well.
10. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

And which Greek starters do you like best?

Text and photos: Julia Pilz / Heiko Meyer

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