Tag Archives: greek food

  1. Greek Gyro Meatballs {Paleo-friendly}

    Greek Gyro Meatballs

    Greek Gyro Meatballs

    These Greek Gyro Meatballs aren’t your standard ground meat Greek meatballs, instead we are bringing the flavor and more importantly the texture of gyro meat. So you can skip the multiple steps and the need for delicate, thinly sliced meat and condense the work into these tasty bites!

    My love for Greek food runs very very deep, you guys know this. Last year when I created, basically the best homemade gyro ever, I realized that I had been sorely missing out for basically an entire lifetime. Growing up Greek there were loads of recipes and dishes that were handed down from generation to generation, things we just always grew up eating – souvlaki, avgolemono soup, lamb meatballs, pastitsio, leg of lamb, Greek Potato Salad and that list goes on and on.

    Though we all loved it very much, gyro wasn’t exactly one of those foods, it just wasn’t part of my family’s Greek food repertoire. Souvlaki was always the go to for this time of meal and if and when gyro was served, at our house, it was the store bought stuff (eeeeek over-processed, gluten-containing and not so good – so, I always passed). When I broke into the homemade gyro game, after years of being without it, it quickly became a dish that is requested every time I am home in NY visiting my family.

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  2. Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Souvlaki {Paleo and Gluten-free with Dairy-free options}

    Lettuce_Wrapped_Chicken_Souvlaki

    Lettuce_Wrapped_Chicken_Souvlaki

    After 4 weeks of loads of travel, I am back home and getting back into real life. Interestingly, I have never been more organized with my content when traveling, especially before 4 weeks of on and of travel. I  had plenty of content to share posts just as regularly while I was gone. From this time last month, until right now, I have been in Mexico, Portland Oregon and finally, Buffalo, New York. I’ve been down the road and back again, to say the very least.

    This final leg of travel, which I just returned from last night, began as an innocent surprise trip home to see my family. I somewhat randomly selected this week, though it was my Mother’s birthday and my nephew’s first birthday, but it was just all a good excuse to come home and surprise everyone.

    Lettuce_Wrapped_Chicken_Souvlaki

    Sadly as the trip crept closer, I received word that my Grandfather had fallen ill and it wasn’t looking great this time. His body was failing him and it was his time. He was in Hospice. I kept checking in with my mother, from my trip to Portland, asking how he was and managing the wonder of what would happen if he passed if I was in Portland, mere days before my scheduled surprise trip. Could I book a rush trip back to New York from Portland? I would also have to spoil the surprise that I had worked so hard on and it would be a challenge cancelling a non refundable trip, just to come a couple days sooner.

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  3. Gluten-free Pastitsio (Greek-Style Baked Pasta / Lasagna)

    Gluten-free Pastitsio (Greek-Style Baked Pasta / Lasagna)

    Gluten-free Pastitsio (Greek-Style Baked Pasta / Lasagna)

    I literally cannot believe that after nearly 7 years of blogging and sharing recipes here with you, that I have never shared this one. It’s literally one of my MOST favorite foods ever. Gluten-free Pastitsio (pa-STEE-tsee-oh), a Greek-Style Baked Pasta / Lasagna, of sort, this is 100% my kind of comfort food. A Christmas dinner tradition, this is the food I grew up eating for the holidays. My Yia Yia always made an incredible tray of pastitsio and since her passing, we can always count on my mother to manage the task and do it as if she herself was the Greek one. Years ago, when I discovered my gluten intolerance, my mom so graciously tweaked the family recipe to be made gluten-free and I never had to be without. Overtime I have made it myself and continued to slightly adjust things and I am so honored to be sharing it with all of you, finally.

    With layers of ground meat (beef or lamb) and pasta and a creamy, puffy, eggy, cheesy béchamel on top, there are hints of warming cinnamon throughout the entire dish and then it’s baked to perfection. This dish steps in where casseroles and lasagna leave off. Traditionally made with bucatini, a long tubular pasta laid out going in the same direction, I make mine gluten-free using instead an organic brown rice penne. In place of regular flour in the béchamel, I use a gluten-free all-purpose blend.

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  4. Grilled Greek-Style Leg of Lamb

    Grilled Greek-Style Leg of Lamb

    Grilled Greek-Style Leg of Lamb

    This is a recipe that I have wanted to share with you all for many years, but my disdain for photographing meat has kept me from it. I know, I know. I’ve been holding out. Don’t hate me. But I have long struggled with how to make charred, brown meat look appetizing, I dunno if I did it – but who cares? I did the best I could and this is far too delicious to keep from you any longer.

    This is another Greek recipe I grew up eating. My Dad has perfected his Greek Marinated Leg of Lamb. He has done it bone-in and boneless on the grill, in the oven and even over an open fire pit. Every summer when the Greek side of my family has their big family reunion out at the lake, my dad is always in charge of the lamb and it’s a spectacle for everyone. In all honesty, I feel like half of it gets eaten right off the grill.

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  5. Greek Potato Salad

    Greek Potato Salad

    This light Greek Potato Salad is full of a bright, fresh tang from the freshly squeezed lemon juice, an incredible fresh crunch from the red onions and cucumber this all comes together with the fresh fill and oregano to create perfect Greek flavors. Step away from the mayo and opt for my family’s favorite summer side dish.

    Greek Potato Salad

    Summertime is the time of quick meals, picnics, BBQs and cookouts. As much as I am a big fan of mayonnaise, I have never been able to get down with the idea of it on my cold salads. I have never enjoyed it on potato salad, coleslaw or pasta salad. Not sure why. Maybe it’s too many picnics in my youth, seeing the salad and the mayo baking away in the sun, no one has a care in the world. I won’t ruin it for those of you that like it, but it’s just not for me.

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  6. Chicken Kapama – Greek Braised Cinnamon Chicken

    Chicken Kapama - Greek Braised Cinnamon Chicken

    Chicken Kapama - Greek Braised Cinnamon Chicken

    I don’t have the best memory, I never have. I forget things easily, but my memories surrounding foods and scents, especially with family – those are strong. I still remember the very distinct aromas of my Great Yia Yia’s home. The basement often smelled of chocolate, the living room of butterscotch candies and the kitchen, of so many amazing Greek flavors. Sometimes it would be Greek pastries or bread, often there was a stew or soup bubbling away or greens she plucked from the yard cooking down in some tomato sauce.

    Chicken Kapama - Greek Braised Cinnamon Chicken

    Growing up in a Greek family meant lots of traditional Greek dishes passed down through the generations, most without a written recipe anywhere to be found. Some dishes, like this one, Chicken Kapama {kah-pah-MAH},  I can still remember both my Great YiaYia and my YiaYia and eventually my parents, making for us. I can very clearly recall the distinct aroma the house would be filled with. The warming, comforting scent of cinnamon when mixed with tomato, to this day warms my heart and brings a smile to my face. This unique flavor combo pops up in several classic Greek dishes and it is a favorite of mine. It smells like home.

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  7. Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

    Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

    Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

    Being away from my family living in California, it has gotten a bit easier with time and there are less and less tears over random moments, holidays, but one of the things I miss most is Sunday dinner as one a big family.

    I grew up eating delicious home cooked Greek food. My family, they know their way around the kitchen. Everyone has their specialties and their things. My mom is an incredible baker, while not Greek herself she has mastered Greek desserts and pastries, baklava, koulourakia cookies. My dad is the king of savory, the grill master, the Greek God of souvlaki, marinated grilled leg of lamb, roasted potatoes among many other specialties. Sadly while my dad makes THE best lamb you’ll ever eat, neither he nor anyone else in our family has ever mastered homemade gyro. Whenever my parents serve up gyro, which isn’t super often, it usually comes already prepared and frozen. Meh. It makes me sad that we aren’t making it ourselves. Also sadly, these pre-made gyro meats tend to be very processed and they almost always contains gluten, so naturally I won’t touch them. Short of going to a more traditional shop, cart or restaurant, where they cook the meat traditionally over a spinning spit or rotisserie – it’s impossible to get the real thing, I haven’t had it in many, many years.

    Traditional Greek gyro, from what I have read, is made with whole cuts of pork, slowly cooked rotisserie style, and thinly shaved, while Americanized Greek gyro is the pressed, almost sausage-like, thinly sliced minced beef and/or lamb blend. Usually served in a pita, wrap style it is a meal that I never get to eat, yet I still find myself craving it.

    Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

    I am home in New York right now, with my family, visiting and meeting my brand new nephew Keaton James, born just three weeks ago. As I was preparing for this trip home to Buffalo, I got giddy at the thought of all the homemade Greek food I would be eating. Greek food is my comfort, it’s what I crave at the holidays, when I am homesick or when I come down with a bug. Greek food from a restaurant is just never the same and somehow making a big feast of Greek food at home, just the two of us, while I do it occasionally, it just never tastes the same to me. This is the food best served with a large group of the people you love most. A big Greek feast needs to come with a side of very loud chatter, tons of laughs, stories from back in the day and it needs kids running around the very same living room that my dad ran around as a little kid.

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  8. How-to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

    Tutorial Tuesdays // Tasty YummiesHow-to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

    This might seem like a beast of a tutorial, but if you grew up Greek, as I did, you will know just how exciting this is the first time you make them yourself. For the past few years, every trip my parents have taken out here to California to visit us, we have planned a day and made a huge Greek feast. Each time we have made the time to use the beautiful grape leaves growing in my yard that are always perfectly in season and we spend the afternoon making homemade dolmades AKA dolmas AKA stuffed grape leaves. These are just like my Yia Yia and my dad’s Yia Yia, had made when we were growing up.

    How-to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

    The beautiful thing about this stuffed grape leaves tutorial/recipe is how versatile it is. I have made these both vegan and with meat and most recently I have even experimented with cauliflower rice for a grain-free version. I have also made them both with jarred grape leaves and the fresh grape leaves growing in my yard.

    How-to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

    How-to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

    My dad has stories of his YiaYia (my great grandmother) driving along very specific country roads that she knew had grape vines, all the kids in the car would be instructed to get out and pick the freshest leaves, they would then take them home and she would tie them up to dry out in the attic, so she’d always have them on hand for homemade dolmades.

    Thankfully, I have several grape vines growing behind my house, so I don’t have to stalk any local vineyards. In the late spring and early summer as they are just starting to sprout new leaves, I can head behind the house pick the prettiest and most perfect ones, just for making dolmades. If you don’t have access to grapevines, simply buy jarred grape leaves, a little less work but still so delicious.

    This tutorial shares options for the filling to be made with or without meat, with rice or with cauliflower rice. Throughout the instructions you will see notes that pertain to the various options. Be sure to read carefully.

    Stuffed grape leaves make a great meze (mezethes or mezze) an appetizer or a small dish to share, meant to be served with wine or ouzo. Imagine a plate of these with some homemade hummus, feta cheese and olives, a big bowl of avgolemeno soup, falafel, a big ‘ol Greek salad, the list could go on and on. Whatever you serve these with and however you serve these, hot, warm or cool, you will love them, especially if you make and share them with people you love. This I can very much attest to.

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  9. Fasolakia Freska (Greek Green Bean Stew) – Gluten-free (Vegan option)

    Fasolakia Freska (Greek Green Bean Stew) - Gluten-free (Vegan option)

    This is a traditional Greek dish that many different people in my family have made for my entire life. My Great Yia Yia (Yia Yia is Greek for grandmother), in my opinion made it the very best, I still think of her any time I smell this stew cooking. I can still remember exactly how her kitchen always smelled and just how it felt in there. There is something about the smell of this stew cooking that reminds me of her unlike any other smell can remind me of anything else in the whole world. I am not sure if it was actually this way, but in my mind I swear she had to always have had always something like this, or one of her other stewed green concoctions, cooking on the stove at her house. I swear it always smelled like this. She passed away when I was 12, so my memory is likely not exactly accurate, but that is how I like to remember it anyway 🙂 My dad’s mom, my Yia Yia, also used to make this stew and my Dad and my great Aunt Marge still make it. Even though it is a little different based on who makes it, I absolutely love it every single time. It is one of those dishes that I am not sure anyone in our family has an exact recipe for and I doubt that they ever really measure(d) as they add things. I think it is just made based on what how your own family makes it and then you just taste as you go. That is how I make it.

    Fasolakia Freska (Greek Green Bean Stew) - Gluten-free (Vegan option)
    When we were kids on our birthday as a special treat, my parent would have us request whatever meal we wanted, and they would make it for us. I really don’t recall anything else that I would consistently ask for besides fasolakia, almost every year that was my pick. I think my parents probably thought I was insane. What child requests a vegetable based meal when they can have whatever they want only one meal a year? THIS ONE DID!!

    This dish can be made either with meat or vegan, my family usually makes it by cooking it low and slow for many hours with a quickly braised bone-in cut of lamb, but I have also had it without meat and it is still very good. I do think that the meat brings a nice depth of flavor and it adds a lot more taste and flavor with the extra fat. Most times they would pull the bones out just before serving so it isn’t a meat stew by any means, you may get a bit or two or stay meat, but generally it is just for the flavor. This stew may not look like much, but while it’s humble appearance it really packs a punch in the flavor department.

    I didn’t have any lamb on hand, but I did have some beef spare ribs in the freezer from our cow share that we got from Sojourner Farms. Since the spare ribs are a fatty cut with a lot of flavor but not a lot of meat to really savor, they were perfect for this. I am not sure exactly how large the package of spare ribs were, maybe 2 lbs or so, it was three small sections of ribs.

    I will apologize in advance for the lack of photos with this post, I hadn’t exactly planned on sharing this recipe when I started cooking it. However, when I had mentioned on Instagram and Facebook that I was making it, a handful of people requested the recipe, so I decided I would. My measurements in this recipe won’t be exactly accurate or perfect since I definitely didn’t measure as I went along, AT ALL. But you will get the general idea of the flavors that you want and you can taste as you go to make this exactly how you wish, (you may want to add more or less of something). This stew is great as a side dish with a large meal, or in my opinion it is a wonderful meal on it’s own. Just spoon the saucy stew in a bowl, with some fresh parsley and fresh ground black pepper on top. Maybe some crumbles of feta cheese and a serving of your favorite crusty gluten-free bread. It is absolute heaven in a bowl and it is for me the most comforting kind of comfort food there is.

    Fasolakia Freska (Greek Green Bean Stew) - Gluten-free (Vegan option)
    [print_this]Fasolakia Freska (Greek Green Bean Stew) – Gluten-free (Vegan option)
    serves 6

    • 1 package (about 2 lbs) of local pasture-raised beef or lamb spare ribs or a bone-in shoulder piece, etc (something suitable for braising)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil (if you are making it without meat)
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
    • course sea salt
    • 1 (28 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes
    • 4 or 5 fresh tomatoes diced or quickly processed in the blender or food processor (you could also just add in another can of crushed or diced tomatoes)
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence (you could also just use the dried oregano and add some basil or use an Italian seasoning blend, etc)
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces if you’d like (you can also use frozen green beans thawed to room temperature)
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1 small handful fresh dill, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

    If you are adding meat, heat a large pot or dutch oven over a medium high heat and quickly sear the meat on all side, getting a nice brown crust on each side. If you are making this vegan, just heat the pot over a medium high heat and add the olive oil.

    Next, add in the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and a pinch or two of sea salt, stirring constantly until the onions are translucent and starting to slightly brown. Reduce the heat and add in the tomatoes, bay leaf, and any dried herbs you are using, plus some salt and pepper. Allow it to simmer for an hour or two, the longer the better, in my opinion.

    After the tomato sauce has simmered a while, give it a taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Then add in the fresh green beans, the parsley and the dill. Cook for another hour or so, over a low heat. You want the beans to be a dark army green color and nice and tender, you aren’t looking for a bright green bean with a crisp bite to it.

    You can remove the meat when you are ready to serve, or just spoon around it. You can also pull some of the meat off the bones and add it back to the stew, which is really nice. Serve in a bowl with a piece or two of your favorite crusty gluten-free bread and chunks of feta (if you eat dairy) and top with some fresh parsley.

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