Crete is an island in the heart of the Mediterranean. The seas surrounding the island offer rich catch of fish, as the fertile valleys of Messara and Southeastern Crete offer many high quality vegetables. On the slopes and hills, there are olive trees, vines, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. All along Crete high mountains host shepherds with sheep and goats that produce high quality livestock products.
The cuisine of Crete, albeit created by poor people, is considered a very rich cuisine, because there is an incredible number of ingredients and a huge number of variations for each recipe, which indicates an advanced culinary culture.
As far back as 350 BC, gastronomy in the Mediterranean, an art strongly connected with Greek civilization, was as glamorous as it is today. One of its very first writers, Archestratos the Geloan, a great poet, gourmand, and a lover of good food and eating, stated the principles of great cooking:
1. Top quality ingredients
2. A good combination of these ingredients
3. Subtle herbs and spices
4. Thin sauces so that they do not alter the taste
Τhe authentic tastes of the local cuisines of Crete and Mediterranean have been carved through the ages, and have been appreciated by generations of people who have linked these very tastes with their own happy memories, ceremonies, and everyday lives. This trip through tastes is also a trip through civilizations, reflecting the lives of the people behind them.
Tzatziki with parsley
- 1 liter of yoghurt
- 1 cucumber (rather big)
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ bunch of parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 chopped olives
- 2 grated carrots (optional)
Put the garlic, the salt and the olive oil in a blender and blend until combined. Add the tough stems of the parsley. Blend until mashed. Grate or cut the cucumber (depending on your preference), squeeze it well and add in the blender. Stir the mix in the yogurt. Add the finely chopped parsley at the end.
The popular Greek salad
- 4-5 medium tomatoes
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 green pepper chopped
- 1 tbsp. rinsed capers (optional)
- 6 tbsp. red wine vinegar (optional)
- 150 gr. feta cheese, grated
- 6-8 olives
- 400 gr. barley rusks (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp. fresh or dried oregano
Soak the rusks in cold water. Squeeze with your hands and crush them in a deep bowl. Cut the tomatoes into wedges or large chunks and squeeze gently to remove their seeds. Cut the cucumber into pieces and thinly slice the onions into half-moons. Place everything, along with capers, pepper and oregano in the large salad bowl. Season lightly with salt, pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil and give everything a very gentle toss to mix. Put the salad in the fridge for half an hour. When serving, add the feta blocks on top, pour the remaining olive oil and the vinegar and sprinkle the dried oregano.
Dakos landouristos: Cretan rusk with topping
- 2 large barley rusks
- 1 large tomato
- 100g. feta cheese (hard & salty)
- Some chopped onion
- A few olives
- Parsley to garnish (optional)
- Olive oil
Moisten the rusks with a little cold water if they are very hard. Grate the tomato and crumble the feta cheese. Put the rusks on a plate. Mix the tomatoes, the oregano, and the chopped onion with the olive oil and the salt, and let it marinate for a while. Spread the dip onto the rusks and add the crumbled feta cheese. Top with the olives and the parsley.
- 4 eggplants
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. parsley leaves
- 1 medium onion (optional) Vinegar
Wash the eggplants and bake them on the stove top, grill or oven until the skin is burned and the flesh is cooked. Peel the eggplants and dice the pulp. Put the garlic, the salt, the olive oil and the onion (if used) into the blender and blend. Place the mix into a large bowl. Add the eggplant pulp and mash it with a fork. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and parsley to taste. Let the salad cool down and put in the fridge to allow the flavors to mingle.
An interesting variation is adding some walnuts into the blender. It gives your salad a more intense taste and a darker color.
- 500 gr. snails
- 1 tbsp. dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup of wine vinegar
- 500 gr. virgin olive oil
- 1 cup of salt
In a nonstick pot, spread salt to completely cover the. Let it burn very well. Place the snails in the pan, with their openings facing the salt. When they start sizzling, pour the olive oil. Fry for 6 minutes over high heat. When the salt in the pan becomes brown, add the dried rosemary. Drizzle with the wine vinegar and stir well. Wait for about two minutes until the liquid evaporates and the sauce becomes smooth. Serve warm, in a deep dish and pour the sauce of the pan over the snails. A useful tip: put toothpicks next to the plate!
“Giant” Beans (Gigantes) in the oven
- 500 gr. gigantes beans
- 2 dried onions, finely sliced
- 3 scallions (green onions) finely sliced
- 2 carrots cut into rounds
- 4 garlic cloves in slices
- 1 cup. olive oil
- 2 stems of chopped celery
- 1/2 bunch of parsley
- 700 gr. chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt- freshly ground pepper
Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water.
Next day, place the gigantes in a large pan with cold water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 40 minutes, until tender. . Drain them in a colander and place them in a large baking pan. Warm half the olive oil in a deep pan, over medium heat, add the garlic and the onion for 10 minutes and let them wilt. Add the sugar, the tomatoes, the carrots, the green onions, the celery, the parsley, salt & pepper. Boil for 10 minutes and then pour them on the beans. Finally, add the rest of the olive oil and 1 cup of water and bake in a preheated oven at 200° C for about 45 minutes, until the beans are soft and tender and the sauce thickens.
Oven-roasted Chicken with potatoes
- 1 chicken
- 1/2 wine glass of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- Some oregano
- Juice of half a lemon
.. Simplicity is always delicious!!
Instructions: Wash the chicken. Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and the garlic cloves, finely chopped. Place them all in a large baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and add some water.
Bake for 1.5 hours at 180-2000 C. When the chicken skin crisps up ,take it out of the oven and pour the lemon juice on top while it is still hot. Ready!
- 1 1/2 kg of beef
- 2 kg small onions (for stew)
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 4 big chopped tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup brown vinegar spices
- 1 big glass of olive oil
Wash and cut the beef in small cubes. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the meat until browned on all sides. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste, bay leaves, spices, vinegar, salt & pepper. Cover the meat with water, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer the beef for about 90 minutes (if you use a saucepan you will need about 45 minutes and less water). Peel the onions, put them in a bowl with water (so as not to get browned) and once the meat is almost cooked, add the onions and simmer for 20 more minutes.
Stuffed tomatoes with rice
- 12 tomatoes
- 1/2 kg potatoes
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup. glazed rice
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
- 4 tbsp. of breadcrumbs
Trademark of the Greek summer table and one of the tastiest recipes in general. When using tomatoes during their harvest period, their taste and smell is incredible!
Choose large round tomatoes, wash them and slice their tops off with a sharp knife. Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh and put it in a bowl.
Place the tomatoes in a large baking pan and sprinkle the inside with a little salt and a little pepper.
Stir the tomato flesh already removed. Put the onion with half the quantity of the olive oil and the rice in a pan and sauté for a while. Add half of the stirred tomato flesh, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and 1/2 cup of water and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. By using a spoon, fill with the stuffing you prepared about 2/3 of each tomato, replace their "caps" and place them back into the baking pan, one close to the other. Pour the remaining olive oil onto the stuffed tomatoes and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into quarters. Salt and pepper them and place them between the tomatoes. Pour the remaining pureed tomato flesh on the stuffed tomatoes and bake in a moderate oven for 45 - 60 minutes.
Salad with raw wild greens
- 300gr wild greens (radish, sow thistle, green peas, fennel, arugula, salsify, leek, purslane, etc.)
- 2 scallions
- 1 tbsp. vinegar
- 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Wash thoroughly all the wild greens and vegetables, then chop them. Mix them all for 1-2 minutes, season with salt, sprinkle with olive oil and vinegar and toss to coat.