Greek Cuisine: Flavorful Options For Hot Summer Months

Tzatziki In the summer months, no one wants to turn on the oven or slave over a hot stove. However, you can only grill outside so many nights a week before you start getting tired of burgers, brats and...

Tzatziki
Tzatziki

In the summer months, no one wants to turn on the oven or slave over a hot stove. However, you can only grill outside so many nights a week before you start getting tired of burgers, brats and chicken breasts.

Enter Greek cuisine.

The food that originated in the Greek Isles is flavorful and a departure from what many Americans are used to. Since it relies on vegetables and herbs as main ingredients, many of its signature dishes don't require a lot of time in the kitchen.

  • Tzatziki: Tzatziki is a wonderfully cool, smooth dressing or sauce made from yogurt, cucumber, olive oil and garlic. It can be used as a garnish on main dishes, but it's also delicious lightly drizzled over a leafy green salad. For a simple weeknight meal, fill a pocket of pita bread with red cabbage, diced carrots and leftover meat from your last cookout, then top it off with tzatziki. Bonus: If you have children, dice some vegetables for dipping.
  • Greek salad: There's no single right recipe for this dish, which is also referred to in many restaurants as a chopped salad, but it generally contains sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, olives and feta cheese in a vinaigrette, seasoned with oregano. This is an excellent summertime dish; the abundant produce at farmers' markets makes it tasty and economical, and you don't have to turn on the oven to make it.

    Greek Salad
    Greek Salad

  • Yemista: To make this dish -- peppers or tomatoes stuffed with a rice and herb filling -- you will have to turn on the oven. If you can wait for a day when it isn't too hot, though, the good news is it makes excellent leftovers, so you'll take care of several meals in one god.

    Yemista
    Yemista

  • Paidakia: So, let's say you've got the grill out, but you don't want hot dogs (again). Try making these grilled lamb chops,

    Greek Yogurt with honey and raspberries
    Greek Yogurt with honey and raspberries

    seasoned with lemon and oregano. Lamb isn't always the most economical choice from the butcher's counter, but this dish is so excellent it's at least worth having every so often.

Now, dessert is a little trickier, since classic Greek sweets like baklava do involve some baking. Why not cheat a little bit and try a bowl of Greek yogurt (yes, it really is similar to the yogurt enjoyed in Greece) and adding some berries or honey? It's very simple, but it's healthy, tasty, quick and not too expensive.

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