Springtime Cooking in Greece

When many people think of Greece, they tend to assume that the country experiences endlessly warm weather.  Most people flock to Greece for a visit during the summer months, and the food that is available at that time reflects that idea. The reality is that Greece experiences multiple seasons and each one of them has different foods readily available during them.

Springtime in Greece is lovely. The temperature is still warm but is slightly cooler than in the summer, and the cooking also reflects this climate. Here’s a look at how to navigate the cuisine in Greece during this season:

What is in Season in the Spring?

As with any type of cooking, you will enjoy a better taste if you harness the freshness of the foods that are in season. During the spring, the best vegetables in season include asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, peppers, and eggplant. For your fruit dishes, the best choices this time of the year include raspberries, strawberries, Valencia oranges, and apricots.

Being mindful that choosing produce at its peak will ensure that you leverage the maximum freshness of seasonal foods. Choose recipes that will best maximize these flavors. Keep in mind that Greece’s growing season is relatively long, and many of the vegetables that you see in the spring in Greece are found in the summer in other climates.

Learn Classic Recipes

As you begin your Greek culinary adventure, it is a good idea to start with the classic recipes. The building blocks of any Greek meal are bread, olive oil, seasonal produce, seafood, and cheese. Once you know how to make these simple recipes, you can change up the ingredients based on what is available in the store.

Here are some classic recipes that you can learn that allow you to use whatever is in season:

  • Salads. There are many different types of salads in Greek cooking, such as the classic horiatiki and salads that use fresh salad greens when they are available.
  • Soups. Greek cuisine has classic soups such as fasoulada (soup with navy beans), vegetable soup, or faki (Lentil soup). Learn these recipes and find ways to use the seasonal, fresh ingredients.
  • Baked vegetables. Greek vegetable bake, also known as briam, is a dish that will enable you to use whatever is in season.
  • Plaki Plaki style baking is typically made with fish, but it can also be made with poultry and other meats. Learn how to use this technique and then you can swap out the ingredients depending on what is available. For example, you can use whichever fish is freshly caught.

Other dishes to create include phyllo dough stuffed with feta cheese (tiropita), hummus with classic dippers, baked pastitsio, and broiled seafood drizzled with lemon. Another favorite to learn to master are dolmades. This popular appetizer uses grape leaves as a wrap around a savory rice filling. Finish your Greek feast with the traditional dessert of baklava. These can all be adapted with seasonal ingredients!

Be Ready to Adapt Classic Recipes

Once you have mastered some of the classic Greek recipes, you can start to adapt these to fit your family’s own tastes and budget. One of the best parts of Greek cooking is the freedom that it affords you to easily adapt classic recipes and give them your own unique spin.

For example, try topping your classic baklava dessert with your favorite fresh fruit or ice cream. Do not be afraid to experiment with different vegetables in your salads and other side dishes. As long as you leave the hallmarks of Greek cuisine untouched, you can adapt a myriad of classic recipes to suit your exact preferences.

Always Use Greek Flavors

There is no need to branch out to other flavors when Greek cuisine is so varied and flavorful on its own. The triumvirate of the Greek diet is undoubtedly bread, olives, and wine. Build your meals using these classic ingredients and a variety of fresh produce and seafood. The key to creating authentic Greek food is to not stray from the classic flavors that distinguish this food from its other ethnic counterparts.

An explosion of flavors awaits you when you make Greek cuisine a cornerstone of your spring menu. The fresh foods and tastes are the ideal complement to the newness of the spring season.