Greek cuisine is one of the richest and most diverse worldwide. With an abundance of locally grown produce and equal attention to quality and taste, it is no wonder many visitors choose Greece as their gastronomic paradise.
Vegetables, unprocessed high-quality meat and raw ingredients are at the core of Greece’s cooking philosophy. Visiting a traditional restaurant in a Greek island, you’ll see that the menu is full of gluten-free options, fully catering to a gluten-free diet. Let’s see 3 of these options below.
The island of Santorini is one of the most unique geological and gastronomical destination in the world. Volcanic activity and the Aegean Sea have really blessed the island with unique endemic ingredients of superb quality and numerous health-related benefits. Fava beans extracted from the plant lathyrus are one of the most typical produce of Santorini. The beans produced on the island have a unique and strong flavor, and they are low-fat and full of proteins. When visiting Santorini, don’t miss out on the chance to taste fava, cooked with onion and fresh octopus from the Aegean Sea. Until you do, here’s the recipe:
Fava with grilled octopus and caramelized onions
- 2 cups Santorini fava beans
- 1 fresh octopus (500 gr)
- 4 red onions
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 cups water
- salt and pepper
Rinse the fava under water and place into a large pot over medium heat with 6 cups cold water and 1 peeled onion cut in half. After a few minutes, remove excess foam, place the lid on the pan and stir regularly. When a puree is formed, remove from the hob and let it cool.
In the meantime, wash the octopus, cut it into big chunks and place it in a pot with the red wine and bay leaf over low heat. Cover with the lid and let it simmer until it is tender. Remove and place unto a grill for 12 minutes, or until it is slightly burnt.
Cut the rest of the onions in rings and place into a pan with olive oil over low heat. Sautee until they’re caramelized.
Place the fava beans in a food processor with olive oil, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Add more olive oil or water if the mixture is not smooth enough.
Serve the fava into a bowl, placing the octopus and onions on top.
Add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar to taste.
The island of Crete has a great cooking tradition. The diverse terrain of the island and its rich history involving contacts with many ancient civilizations have shaped the island. Cretans dishes are unique in taste and ingredients. Let’s take escargots as an example; one of the most discussed and ambiguous gastronomical treats. Haute cuisine has placed escargots at the peak of culinary excellence, and they are prepared by numerous famous chefs at the best restaurants. In Greece, escargots or chochlioi, as the Cretans call them are the choice of many. Greeks eat them with rice and tomato sauce, they sauté them in extra virgin olive oil and rosemary, or they make it as a stifado, i.e. cooked with onions in a delicious gluten-free recipe that can be eaten as a main dish or an original appetizer.
Escargots with onions and tomato sauce
- 1 kg frozen escargots
- 1 kg onions
- 80 ml olive oil
- 200 ml red wine
- 4 beef tomatoes
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 pinch of sugar
- 1 pinch of dried rosemary
- salt and pepper
Defrost the escargots and remove excess water. Place them in a pot with olive oil over medium to high heat and sauté for a few minutes. Add red wine and let it simmer.
Peel the onions and cut them into big chunks. Put the onions in the pot and stir until they are translucent.
Put the tomatoes into a blender with salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Pour the tomato puree in the pot and add bay leaves and a pinch of sugar. Cover the pot with the lid and let it simmer until the onions are well-cooked. Add water and stir if needed.
Remove from the hob, serve in a deep plate and season with paper and rosemary. Best eaten with gluten-free bread.
Most Greek food menus feature a selection of mouth-watering desserts such as galaktoboureko, portokalopita or baklava. These traditional Greek desserts all contain gluten. But Greek cuisine is full of surprises. In the island of Mykonos and in many of the Cyclades, you will find the amigdalota, the flourless almond-based delicacies of Mykonos. Amigdalota are prepared with ground almonds and their final shape differs from bakery to bakery, family to family and village to village. They are often prepared during the festive periods and are eaten during festivals, or other events such as weddings or christenings. This easy-to-make Greek dessert is also perfect for Christmas. In many areas they knead them into a pear shape, and they call them achladakia, which means little pears.
- 1 kg skinned almonds
- 1/2 kg granulated sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- icing sugar
In a deep pot, get the water to a boil. When the water is ready, thrown in the almonds and leave boiling for 2 minutes. Remove them, drain them and rinse them with cold water.
Immediately start squishing the almonds with your fingers while still warm and the skin will come right off.
Place the skinned almonds in a blender and blend until a soft mush is formed. Don’t blend them for too long as they will turn into paste, which won’t work for the recipe.
Place the almond mush, granulated sugar, the eggs and egg yolks and a shot of rosewater into a large bowl. Knead until the dough it’s smooth.
Shape the dough into small pears, inserting a clove on top. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°C (356°F).
Remove from the oven, let them cool down and dip them in rosewater. Place them onto a cake rack and powder with icing sugar. Repeat the icing process the following day. Enjoy!
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