The foods and flavors of Greece are classic and surprisingly healthy too. With a little preparation you can enjoy these great foods at home.

It’s Greek to Me!

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of food posts by West Seattle's own Holly Brown whose food blog and WebTV show, The Brown Lounge has gained a national following.

By Holly Brown

For me, the most exciting part of planning a trip, is anticipating the cuisine of the region. Where we’ll eat, and what we’ll eat, are as important as where we’ll stay and what sites we’ll see. Getting to know the place, begins by getting to know its food. Naturally, I try to include cooking classes, and wine tasting excursions in my travel plans whenever possible. The Greek Isles are ripe with opportunities to taste wonderful food, and to take in the beauty of this Mediterranean treasure.

Since Greece is central to the Mediterranean Sea, its cuisine is both a reflection of the local fare, as well as other cuisines in the region. The flavors of Greece are marked by olive oil for sure, but they also include vegetables and herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish, and meats like lamb, poultry, rabbit, and pork. Oives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, and yogurt are also quite popular. Greek desserts typically include nuts and honey and occasionally pastry or phyllo dough.

Mezes are small dishes, often served with wine or anise-flavored liqueurs, such as ouzo. Dips are served with bread pita. The herbs and spices of Greek cuisine include: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill, and bay leaves.

I love to sample the local fare, and popular eateries of the locals themselves. More often than not, I’ll pry a recipe from the chef, or do my best to recreate the dishes I liked best when I’m back at home. Fortunately, this week, I had the good fortune to host Ranan Richardson in my kitchen. Ranan is not only a full-time resident of Greece, but she’s a tour guide with Convertible Caravans’ European Tours. She shared some wonderful recipes with me straight from the popular restaurant stops on her tours to Greece.

Our menu started with a typical appetizer, or meze, of Greek Olive and Walnut Spread, followed by a traditional salad featuring Roasted (or grilled) Eggplant. Then we grilled Mint Marinated Lamb Chops, which we served with a Red Wine Reduction Sauce over an Orzo Vegetable Sauté. For the finale we enjoyed an almond and semolina cake called Ravani!

If you have an opportunity to travel to Greece you can enjoy these mouth-watering dishes as you gaze upon the Med. Otherwise, you can prepare any or all of these dishes at home, and just pretend you’re in Greece!

Greek Olive and Walnut Spread

Greek Eggplant Salad

Mint Marinated Lamb with Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Orzo Vegetable Sauté

Ravani Cake

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