10 Recipes That Bring the Flavors of Greece to Your Weeknight

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

You probably feel like you need a vacation right now — don’t we all? Well, how about Greece? Yes, sure, it’s a Tuesday and you have work tomorrow, but let’s go anyway. A flight tonight is probably out of the question, so escape to Greece via your kitchen instead, for an inspired dinner that will have everyone around the table cheering. Just keep a close eye on the plates.

If you think you need a whole pantry of new ingredients to make your escape, you’re mistaken. You likely already have some of the basics needed in your kitchen right now to give your dinners a Greek flair. All you need to do is embrace them like the Greeks do. Here’s how.

1. Keep things fresh and simple.

Like other Mediterranean cuisines, Greek food is fairly simple — that’s exactly why it’s so tasty. Instead of complicated dishes with a boatload of ingredients, Greek recipes lean on a simple yet flavorful pantry to make their dishes sing. This not only makes cooking Greek on a weeknight easy to do, but the fresh flavors will also have you coming back for more.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

2. Pile on the herbs.

Embrace all the herbs. Dill, parsley, oregano, thyme, and rosemary can bring life to just about anything, from tuna to cucumbers to shrimp to chicken breasts. Specifically I mean fresh herbs, as they’ll not only add the freshest flavor but those pretty green flecks will also just make everything feel a little more wholesome.

3. Move Greek yogurt beyond the breakfast bowl.

Don’t leave the tub of Greek yogurt tucked in the back of the fridge for tomorrow morning. Reach for it now to add tang and creaminess to a simple cucumber salad or make a cake more moist and tender than you ever thought possible.

Greek yogurt is a strained yogurt, so it’s thicker and richer than unstrained yogurt. Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt so you have blank slate that can easily move from recipe to recipe.

4. Break out the feta.

This may be the fastest way to make something feel a little more Greek: Add feta cheese. While crumbling it on your salad is all well and good, take a more unique approach by turning that feta into a brine for the juiciest chicken breasts possible. It’s your weekly chicken breast dinner gone Greek, but it’s still just as easy.

While feta isn’t always a part of Greek salad dressings, we like it as an addition to make a creamy version that is even more luxurious than the basic vinaigrette version. And before you head to the grocery store, check out our tips on buying feta.

4. Load up on lemons.

In keeping with the Greek idea of fresh flavors, lemons play a starring role in many of these recipes. Both the zest and the juice give spark to a sheet pan full of roasted shrimp, and when the juice is used in place of mayo, it lightens up and revives tuna salad. Plus a touch of zest in olive oil cake makes it extra fragrant.

When lemon is paired with olive oil, garlic, and oregano, the distinct flavor profile we associate with Greek dishes becomes immediately recognizable.