Sunday, September 25, 2016

Greek Night 2016!


We love doing our theme nights, and one of our absolute favorite theme nights is our mini Greek Festival. Salt Lake City, Utah has an absolutely fantastic Greek Festival at the beginning of every September with the most amazing Greek food imaginable. However, I haven't been in years because we can't go as a family because my oldest son is allergic to tree nuts (and Greek food, mostly desserts, have a ton of tree nuts in them...I'm looking at you, Baklava). Also, my husband and I just never seem to be able to get away that first weekend in September for a date night to the Greek Festival. However, We have our fantastic family Greek Night and it really satisfies that craving for Greek food.

I'm including the recipes we made on this particular night as well as some of our tried and true favorites from other nights (just so we have them all in one place). You can also check out these other Greek food posts that we have made in the past: original post for Greek Meatballs, Greek Lemon Potatoes, and Avgolemono Soup here, Slow Cooker Greek chicken here, Pastitsio here, Greek Quinoa Salad here, first version of Chicken Souvlaki here, second version of Chicken Souvlaki here, Chicken Gyros (kind of the third version of Chicken Souvlaki) and Lemon Rice here, Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros here, Meat Loaf Gyros here, Greek Orzo Salad here, Greek Tacos here, and Galatoboureko (Greek Milk Pie) here...that's all...for now, at least! Yeah, we're not Greek, but we love our Greek food!

Baked Feta


1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound block Greek feta
4 scallions, sliced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, for serving
Bell peppers, sliced, for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, garlic, 2 tablespoons parsley, oregano, olive oil, and a few grinds of pepper.

Place the block of feta in the middle of an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has softened and melted.

Remove from the oven and garnish with the remaining parsley and scallions and serve immediately while still warm. This can be placed back in the oven to melt if the cheese starts to firm up again. Serve with peppers and grilled shrimp.

To grill the shrimp: Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and grill for 2 minutes per side, or until shrimp is opaque. Serve.

Recipe Notes: This dish is best served hot, warm, or room temperature.

Source: The Chew, recipe by Michael Symon. You can find it here.

Notes: We did not serve this with the bell peppers and shrimp. We served this with homemade pita chips. Baked feta is a fantastic, wonderful thing. I highly suggest you try it!


Spicy Baked Feta (Feta Psiti)


1 (8 ounce) block feta cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes, or as needed
1 pinch dried oregano, or as needed


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the feta in an ovenproof baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover liberally with pepper flakes, and sprinkle with oregano.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until feta is soft, about 10 minutes.

Source:, submitted by Diana Moutsopoulos. You can find it here.

Notes: This was so, so good. It's hard to say which baked feta I liked might just have to make both of them like we did! Again, we served this with homemade pita chips.


Pita Chips


12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chervil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place triangles on lined cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, basil, and chervil. Brush each triangle with oil mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily.

Source:, submitted by Dawn. You can find it here.

Notes: These were fantastic. They were delicious topped with the baked feta and they were awesome all by themselves. The kids particularly loved these. They kept asking for more "slices of little pizza."

Grecian Meatballs


1 lb. lean, finely ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
olive oil, for brushing


Put the ground beef or lamb in a bowl. Grate in the onion, then add the garlic, bread crumbs, mint, and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well, then add the beaten egg and mix to bind the mixture together.

With damp hands, form the mixture into 16 small balls and thread onto 4 flat metal skewers. Lightly oil a broiler pan and brush the meatballs with oil.

Preheat the broiler and cook the meatballs under medium heat for 10 minutes, turning frequently, and brushing with more oil if necessary, until browned.

Source: From the cookbook "Perfect Greek," published by Parragon in 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4054-8858-7. You can find it here.

Notes: These are awesome. They are very similar to what you can get at the SLC Greek Festival.

Red Sauce for Meatballs


1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (8 oz) can tomato puree
1 (4 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes


In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook, stirring well, until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add oregano and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add tomato puree, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and whole, peeled tomatoes. Break up whole, peeled tomatoes with the back of a spoon or cut up with kitchen sheers.

Simmer on low while meatballs cook (at least 30 minutes).

Source: I came up with this recipe on my own.

Greek Lemon Potatoes


2 lbs potatoes, unpeeled, washed, and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zest grated (see notes)
4 Tbsp. water
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 bay leaved
2 rosemary sprigs (see notes)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a 9x13 baking dish with tin foil. Place the cut potatoes into the baking dish.

Drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water over the potatoes. Place the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper on top of the potatoes.

Stir well to coat.

Bake the potatoes for 1-1 1/2 hours or until they are cooked through, tender, and slightly crispy.

Stir every now and then during cooking to coat with the herby oil.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.

Source: Darn it, I found this online at least four years ago and now I can't remember what recipe site I found it on. Sorry!

Notes: I didn't have fresh lemons on hand, so I used a liberal amount of bottled lemon juice (to make up for not having lemon zest). The dish was still yummy, but honestly, lemon is the star flavor of this dish. Don't substitute the fresh lemon for bottled juice! If you really love the flavor of lemon, I would recommend using the juice of two lemons and the zest of one. Also, in addition to peeling the garlic, I halved it as well.

As for the herbs, substituting dried herbs works just fine in this dish. I didn't have fresh rosemary, so I used 1 teaspoon dried and crushed it between my fingers as I sprinkled it over the potatoes. I also didn't have fresh thyme, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme.


Basic Greek Salad


1 large bunch Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cucumber (you can either peel, thickly slice, and quarter this, or simply slice it into rounds with the peel on)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, optional
1/2-1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata olives
Whole or sliced banana peppers, optional
Favorite bottled or homemade Greek salad dressing (see notes)


Combine and toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Note: If you would like to make your own Greek salad dressing, here's a simple recipe found in the South Beach Diet cookbook:

Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing (Large Batch)


1 1/2 quarts olive oil
1/3 cup garlic powder
1/3 cup dried oregano
1/3 cup dried basil
1/4 cup pepper
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 quarts red wine vinegar


In a very large container, mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, onion powder, and Dijon mustard. Pour in the vinegar and mix vigorously until well-blended. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Source:, submitted by Danielle M. You can find it here.

Notes: The recipe on Allrecipes says, "This is the 'secret' Greek dressing recipe from the pizzeria that I work at. The recipe makes almost a gallon, but can be scaled down easily. It can be used for picnics and travels very well, since it doesn't need to be refrigerated. This is the best dressing I have ever tasted, people offer to buy it constantly, but if we sold it, we wouldn't be able to make enough to use in the restaurant!" This was, indeed, good stuff.

Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing (Smaller Batch)


3/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp, plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 3/4 tsp. pepper
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 tsp. onion powder
1 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup, plus 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar


Mix all ingredients, except vinegar, together. Add red wine vinegar and mix vigorously until well-blended. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Source:, submitted by Danielle M. You can find the original (big batch) recipe here (and above). 

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Soup)

Here is the recipe. I got it from a book Clint gave me, but I have modified it...


3 pints chicken broth ( 3 16 oz cans)
2 eggs
2 Tbs lemon juice (or more depending on taste, I like things extra lemony)
about a cup of cooked rice or orzo pasta
one cooked chicken breast, shredded
parsley, chopped about 1/4 cup
salt, pepper to taste


Bring broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Add a small ladle of the soup to the egg mixture and whisk until well combined, then slowly add this mixture to the pot of the cooking broth. Whisk constantly until texture is smooth and egg is well integrated. Add chicken and rice cook on low for a few minutes, then add some fresh parsley. Yummmmmy!

Happy cooking!

Note: It is important to add a small ladle of soup to the egg mixture before adding the egg mixture directly to the soup. It tempers the egg mixture so that it doesn't cook immediately once it is added to the soup. If you add the egg mixture directly to the soup, it will end up more like Chinese egg noodle soup with string of egg throughout the soup rather than a silky, creamy texture as intended in this recipe. 

Greek Festival Lemon Rice Pilaf


1/4 lb. butter
2 cups uncooked rice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
5 cups hot chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat butter in a heavy skillet. When it is hot, add the rice and, stirring constantly, sauce over medium heat until transparent, but not brown.

Add the lemon juice, chicken broth, and salt.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let pilaf stand uncovered for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: I found this on You can find it here.

Notes: This isn't a fluffy rice pilaf, it is more of a sticky rice. It is so good. It is spot on with the Greek rice that you can get in a Greek restaurant. The recipe provides this note: "Every September, Salt Lake has an amazing Greek Festival. Back in 2001 I got a pamphlet of Greek recipes from the festival. This rice pilaf is very similar to the rice pilaf served at my favorite Greek restaurant. Opa!" This really does taste like the rice from the Greek festival. Good stuff!

The only change I made was to use half of the butter that the recipe called for. It was still fantastic.

Herbed Greek Roasted Potatoes with Feta Cheese


5 pounds potatoes, cut into wedges
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1 (8 ounce) package crumbed feta cheese


Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking dish.

Stir the potatoes, garlic, olive oil, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until the potatoes are evenly coated; pour into the prepared baking dish.

Roast in the preheated oven until the potatoes begin to brown, about 40 minutes. Season the potatoes with the oregano and mint. If the dish appears dry, pour another 1/2 cup water into the dish. Return to the oven and bake about 40 minutes more. Top with the crumbled feta cheese to serve.


Greek Lentil Salad


1/2 cup French (du Puy) lentils
1/2 cup quinoa
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small/medium zucchini or 1 large, cubed
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved and pitted
4 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil


Rinse and drain the lentils. Place in a saucepan and cover by 2 inches with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes, until tender. Strain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, make the quinoa. Place quinoa in a small sauce pot with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Remove from heat, keep the lid on and let sit another 2-3 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Once the lentils and quinoa have cooled, place in a bowl with the tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, and olives.

Whisk together the oregano, salt, ground pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss with salad and serve.

Source: Delish Knowledge, recipe by Alex Caspero. You can find it here.


Greek Tzatziki


1 (32 ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt (Greek yogurt can also be used for a thicker tzatziki)
1/2 English cucumber with peel, grated
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper


Stir together yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Add lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper; whisk until smooth. pour into a serving dish, cover tightly, and refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Source:, submitted by Leelee Cooks. You can find it here.

Notes: This is one of many tzatziki recipes on our blog, but it is a great one. It's always fun to try new combinations. We served this with our smoked lamb and it was fantastic. I need to hunt down the smoked lamb recipe from my brother and add it to this post.

Milk Pie aka Galatoboureko


4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup fine semolina
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough, thawed
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 large lemon


In a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot, bring the milk to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Sprinkle in the semolina, whisking constantly. Add the sugar, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, whisk in 2/3 cup of the butter, and add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. The mixture will be thick, but pourable, like a soft polenta.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom with 8 sheets of phyllo, layering them one at a time, and brushing each sheet with butter. The sheets will be larger than the baking pan. Be certain that the bottom is covered by pressing the dough into the corners, and allow the excess to run up the sides of the pan. Phyllo sheets not in use should always be covered with a damp towl.

Pour the milk filling over the sheets. Cover with remaining 12 sheets of phyllo, repeating the layering process, and brushing each sheet with butter.

With a very sharp knife, trim the dough around the edges of the pan, and score the top diagonally in two directions to make diamond-shaped slits on the surface. Sprinkle the top with a little water, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes. Pie is done when top is light brown and the filling is set.

As soon as the pie is in the ove, begin to make the syrup. Combine water and sugar in a 4 quart saucepan. Squeeze the halved lemon in the sugared water, and drop the juiced half in the liquid. Simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Discard the lemon. Very carefully, because syrup can boile vigorously, pour the hot syrup over the pie as soon as it is removed from the oven.

Let the pie cool completely, and then serve by cutting along the diagonal scores made prior to baking.

Source:, submitted by Kenmore featured chef, Cat Cora. You can find it here.

Notes: This is one of my favorite Greek desserts. It is so delicious. It is also wonderful with almond flavoring added in (in place of the vanilla).

Greek Honey Cake


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts (we used almonds because my son isn't allergic to those)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and orange rind. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts (or almonds).

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. Pour honey syrup over the cake.

For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Source: by CaliforniaJan. You can find it here.

Notes: This was really good. Plus, it was beautiful with the diamond shapes on top.

1 comment:

  1. The baked feta was something that Emily and I found in Greece two summers ago. It was a revelation! Who would have thought. We also had some honey cake at this little bakery at the very top of Santorini, and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. This one did not quite do it justice. :(