Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Favorite Greek dishes for vegetarians

Recommended Posts

So, our flights have been booked for next Sunday, we're servicing our loyal bikes, the panier bags are coming out of the cupboard and we're checking the tent still has all its poles.

Our plan is 10 days of cycling, through the Pelopponnese and Crete, far from the madding crowds, through mountain meadows and forests full of bee hives, with regular visits to pristine hidden beaches. That's the plan.

Of course, to make our holiday perfect, some feasting would go down well. I had thought that this would be impossible for my boyfriend, given he's vegetarian (no fish either), since I assumed the options will only be grilled meat, grilled fish, or Greek salad. But having had a look at some of these posts, it seems like there are quite a few really delicious (and popular?) dishes that don't involve meat or fish, but do include delicious things like spinach, fava beans, chick peas etc.

So, I'd like to compile a list of Great Greek Dishes that vegetarians can eat, the sort of simple everyday stuff that we might be able to get in a small village taverna. To kick start the list I'm nominating:

Briam - I had this about 10 years ago on the island of Amorgos and it was mindblowingly delicious. Potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes and maybe onions and lots of olive oil? All cooked together extremely slowly. I've tried recreating this but never succeeded. It's something I still have fond memories of!

Any general advice or additions to the list would be most gratefully appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This doesn't help much, I know, but I keep remembering the line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding: "What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Oh, that's okay. I make lamb." :raz:

Good luck, and have lots of fun on your trip!



Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does he eat dairy? That would help a lot with getting in some protein, and Greek yogurt is fabulous. Even without dairy, it will usually be possible to have a tasty meal based on small dishes; main dishes don't seem to be vegetarian as much.

I like briam a lot too. Also melitzanosalata, gigantes, dolmades, tsatziki, and just a plate of Greek olives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the replies! I haven't seen 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' but like the 'don't worry I make lamb!' line! You'd also be amazed how many people seem to also think chicken isn't an animal... Ah well...

What are melitzanosalata and gigantes? Something involving aubergines and giant beans?...

I reckon side dishes & lots of them is probably the way to go. We love eating Lebanese food which has tons of delicious things that don't have meat or fish in them, and there are a few distantly related Greek dishes which are similar.

Jonathan isn't vegan so does eat dairy produce. And he hoovers up carbohydrates. (Well, everyone does when cycling). He's actually more of a 'foodie' than me when it comes to having taste buds that can really distinguish fine nuances, knowing how to prepare things properly, having a talent for combining flavours. People always think vegetarians dislike food which is so depressing when the opposite is the case... so I reckon the trick when travelling is to research some of the good things in advance and then hunt them out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

melitzanosalata = eggplant dip, aka baba ghanoush, sans tahina. You also got revithosalata which is hummus.

Gigantes = Lima beans, usually in a tomato sauce.

Unless he's also a vegan, you should be fine with just about every form of Mezze. There's many kinds.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry I didn't tell you what those things were. If he eats dairy you will have no problems at all. The one thing I would suggest is not just telling people you are vegetarian and asking them to put plates together because a lot of people are not too clear about what that means. Not just in Greece-- you get people in the US who think chicken is vegetarian. However you can get a plate of mixed mezedes and lots of them will be vegetarian; you can eat the meat ones.

Have fun-- wish I was going!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi - thanks for the 'feed'back everyone. (sorry can't resist bad puns)

so, on the list now are:








General Mezze grazing

Greek yoghurt (with honey - mmm)

Arkadian Nectar (just invented that one - we will be cycling through Arkadia though. But avoiding Megalopolis)

The one thing I would suggest is not just telling people you are vegetarian and asking them to put plates together because a lot of people are not too clear about what that means.

This is true - I rarely use the word 'vegeterian' anyway because it is so loaded with weird interpretations - so end up with the long winded but more neutral 'dishes that contain no meat or fish'. Go into most restaurants and ask them if they have any 'vegetarian' food and the look on their faces is usually panic or disdain. Anyway, this thread isn't about defending vegetarians, a topic I've taken up with passion after falling in love with one...

What about delicious sticky pastries to stash in our panniers as 'emergency fuel rations' (i.e. to be scoffed before the morning's even finished)? Isn't there something involving cheese and honey, filo pastry and probably a deep frying session?

Are there any unusual things we should be hunting out? Some kind of mountain food that involves lots of starch?

Thank you also for the link, Petite tete de chou. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to give many of the Greek names of dishes but it's a great reference site - have already found a couple of recipes I want to try.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

taste "fava" whic is a humous - like paste prepared from some special beans

it must have a dark yellow colour and thick consistency

also, try steamed green beans with garlic and lemon, and "keftedes" made out of tomatoes, zucchini, or chick peas

do not forget to try "glyka tou koutaliou", which are primarily home made sweets based on fruits


civilization is an everyday affair

the situation is hopeless, but not very serious

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Thought I'd do a report now we're back. I was really impressed by the range of delicious things available for non meat eaters, so thought it would be useful let other vegetarians know that Greece is certainly not a 'no-go' zone. In fact compared to France where we live, I'd say the general food culture on a basic, day to day level (not talking about fancy fine dining which I don't have much experience of & therefore can't comment on) was infinitely superior. (Hopefully there aren't too many francophiles reading this...)

What was also clear was that the food lives and dies by the quality of its ingredients. A 'Greek salad' in Northern Europe is probably something I'd normally avoid, but when the locally grown ingredients are so sublimely delicious, it can become something perfect, a sort of Platonic Greek salad experience. Likewise the freshly squeezed juice made from locally picked oranges in Crete - spoils you for life. Everything seems flimsily flavoured now I'm back 'up North.'

It reminded my of the basic principle with a lot of Italian cooking - if the ingredients are great, the simplest of things are delicious. But if you follow the same recipe with veg grown in Dutch greenhouses or flown in from Kenya, it can be a miserable affair. Most people now realise that those miserable little cow's milk mozzarella balls sold in supermarkets should be given another name, since they bear so little resemblance to the real thing.

I suspect this is why Greek restaurants in Northern Europe are often considered boring. While people recognise the distinction with Italian food, they just haven't made that imaginative leap with Greek food, so it continues to get patronisingly dismissed.

Anyway, a few highlights:

Since we were cycle touring on a minimal budget our focus was on simple food. I loved the whole taverna culture - which the Greeks have turned into a fine art. The simplicity and honesty of it - and the fact that you are never too far from another taverna when cyclists' 'bonk' threatens, even on the remotest mountain road in the Pelopponnese.

I loved the tiny bakeries in villages tucked away in secret valleys, with interiors that look like they haven't changed since 1910. They'd have perhaps one type of bread on sale, which looked a bit boring and dry. But was in fact full of flavour (frequently lots of olive oil) and dense with enough moisture. The perfect en-route fuel with some tomatoes and a bit of tapenade.

the spanakopita and other related pies were great but extremely greasy & not sure if you'd really want to be eating them on a regular basis if you weren't burning up thousands of calories every day...

The fruit & vegetable market in Heraklion - beautiful ingredients, 3d flavours, cheap, and lots of weird looking green things I've never seen before. Made me want to buy a whole load and borrow someone's kitchen for some enthusiastic experimenting, or buy lots of packets of seeds and find a garden...

Favourite dishes were things like 'horta' - steamed green veg, most of which seem to be any sort of green herby things harvested wild. Delicious. Fava - the hummous like thing athinaeos mentioned. Gigantes. Green beans with tomatoes and potatotes. Briam. Dolmades. Stuffed veg. Those biscuit rings covered in sesame seeds - with black coffee and maybe some joghurt and fresh fruit - perfect breakfast! It was never a problem finding delicious things to eat in fact.

There was a marked difference between the less touristy Peloponnese and Crete where the level of tourism is extraordinary and rather depressing and food prices were similar to London. We sought out the remoter roads however and were rewarded with the most exciting, constantly evolving landscape I think I've ever been in. Having the mobility of being on a bike does make it easier to find tavernas off the beaten track, which I think makes a big difference. But even in touristy spots we could find places to eat well. Even Heraklion, which seems to get a bad rap, we managed to hunt out a few good spots (near the fruit & veg market seems to be a good bet.)

Well, that's enough of a ramble. Greece is great! I'll definitely be back for second helpings...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Yesterday, an old friend sent me a picture of her family dinner, which she prepared. She was never much of a cook, so I was a bit surprised. It's the first I've seen her cook in 25 years. Here is the spread.

      I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.

      For the first 20-odd years I lived in China, I never saw okra - no one knew what it was. I managed to find its Chinese name ( 秋葵 - qiū kuí) in a scientific dictionary, but that didn't help. I just got the same blank looks.
      Then about 3 years ago, it started to creep into a few supermarkets. At first, they stocked the biggest pods they could find - stringy and inedible - but they worked it out eventually. Now okra is everywhere.

      I cook okra often, but have never seen it served in China before (had it down the road in Vietnam, though) and there are zero recipes in any of my Chinese language cookbooks. So, I did the sensible thing and asked my friend how she prepared it. Here is her method.
      1. First bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the washed okra and boil for two minutes. Drain.

      2. Top and tail the pods. Her technique for that is interesting.

      3. Finely mince garlic, ginger, red chilli and green onion in equal quantities. Heat oil and pour over the prepared garlic mix. Add a little soy sauce.

      4. Place garlic mix over the okra and serve.
      When I heard step one, I thought she was merely blanching the vegetable, but she assures me that is all the cooking it gets or needs, but she did say she doesn't like it too soft.

      Also, I should have mentioned that she is from Hunan province so the red chilli is inevitable.
      Anyway, I plan to make this tomorrow. I'm not convinced, but we'll see.
      to be continued
    • By missdipsy
      Two of my family members are pescetarian, one of whom is my picky daughter who only likes a few types of fish cooked in very specific ways so to all intents and purposes is mostly vegetarian. Many Chinese soup recipes involve meat or fish, or at least meat broth, so I'd love to find a few more recipes that would suit my whole family (I also don't eat much pork as it doesn't always agree with me, and a lot of soups involve pork so this is also for my benefit!). Vegetarian would be best, or pescetarian soups that are not obviously seafood based (I could get away with sneaking a small amount of dried shrimp in, for instance, but not much more than that!).
      Any kind of soup will do, although I'd particularly like some simple recipes that could be served alongside a multi-dish meal. But I'm always interested in new recipes so any good soup recipes would be welcome!
      Any suggestions?
    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.

      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Vietnamese Pickled Eggplant
      These use tiny white eggplants that are nearly impossible to get here.  I tried to grow them without success (this time).  I did not have these so used unripe cherry tomatoes.
      2 lb eggplant (tiny white SE Asian types) or green cherry tomatoes.
      1/4 cup salt
      1 TBL galangal root
      1 TBL ginger root
      12 green chilies - thai peppers or serranos
      6 cloves garlic
      1/2 cup onion finely chopped
      2 cup Granulated sugar
      2 cup water
      1/4 cup fish sauce
      1. Rinse off eggplant and pierce with a knife - or cut in half if larger than 3/4 inch in diameter.
      2. Put eggplant into jar and add salt - and water to top of jar.  Cover with plastic lid and cover loosely.  Let ferment for 7 days.
      3. Take out eggplant and drain.  Rinse with water.  Put into jars again.
      4. Chop ginger, galangal, chiles, onion, and garlic.
      5. Boil water and sugar, add spices and onion, and heat for 5 minutes.  Add fish sauce.
      6. Pour over eggplants making sure the spices and onion get all around (might have to take out some eggplant and return).
      7. Cover with plastic lid, and refrigerate.
      8. Ready in several days.  Will last a very long time in the refrigerator.
      Notes:  Good alongside other SE Asian dishes, or even alone with rice.  The green tomatoes are not the same texture as the eggplants, but are quite good.  The eggplants are very crispy.
    • By Kasia
      Courgette cutlets
      I found the recipe for courgette cutlets at www.gotujzcukiereczkiem.pl. It appealed to me at once for three reasons. Firstly, the courgette is my favourite vegetable. Secondly, cutlets, pancakes and crumpets are my children's favourites dishes. Thirdly, this dish is fast, simple and is always a success. You must not use FB while frying, because it may end with you ordering pizza for dinner 

      The cutlets are mild and their flavour is spiced up with feta cheese. You can complement them with your favourite herbs. In my kitchen there is always basil, dill, peppermint, rosemary and thyme. This time I chose dill (in accordance with the recipe) and thyme.

      400g of courgette
      1 egg
      150g of feta cheese
      110g of breadcrumbs (+ 4 tablespoons for the batter)
      2 tablespoons of minced dill
      1 tablespoon of thyme
      salt and pepper

      Wash the courgette and grate it. Add salt and leave it in a bowl for 15 minutes. Drain it then mix in the egg, feta cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs. Spice it up with salt and pepper. Make small cutlets with the mixture and fry in oil. Serve with natural yoghurt.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...