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Aromatic flavours of the Greek Islands

Greek cooking’s simple, healthy and flavourful platters of herby bits and bobs are meant to be shared for hours with a crowd. If left alone on a Greek island, this would be our menu…  

Prawn salad with garlic and chilli dressing 

Serves 8 

Thread the prawns onto skewers and cook over a hot griddle pan to char. 


1 box (700g) large Vannamei prawns, defrosted 
Salt and milled black pepper 
Glug canola oil 
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
2 lemons, zested and juiced 
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks 
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks 
1 red onion, thinly sliced 
Handful fresh rocket 
Handful fresh mint, chopped 
Handful fresh parsley, chopped  

For the dressing  

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
1 lemon, zested and juiced 
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
A cup of olive oil  



  1. Devein prawns and remove shells, taking care to keep tail intact.  
  2. Generously season prawns and toss together with oil, parsley and 1/2 the lemon zest and juice.  
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and fry prawns for 4-6 minutes until bright pink and cooked through.  
  4. Remove from heat and toss with remaining lemon zest and juice.  
  5. In a large serving bowl, toss together cucumber, carrots, red onion, rocket, mint and parsley.  
  6. Whisk garlic, chilli, mustard, lemon zest and juice and parsley in a bowl.  
  7. Slowly add oil while whisking until well combined.  
  8. Top salad with cooled prawns and serve with dressing on the side. 

 Also read: Mango, Orange And Chilli Prawn Cocktail 

Marbled eggs with dukkah 

Serves 8  

Dukkah, an Egyptian blend of spices and nuts, can be used to coat fish, lamb and chicken for extra crunch and flavour that sings alongside Greek dishes. 


Papery skins of 4-6 red onions

8 eggs

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

1 Tbsp cumin seeds

1/3 cup chopped pistachios or almonds

1 tsp smoked chilli powder or chilli flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sumac (optional)


  1. Fill a pot with water and add onion skins (this is to colour the eggs).
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer over high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and boil for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Remove eggs and gently crack entire surface of each shell.
  5. Return eggs to pot and allow to cool in water before peeling.
  6. Combine sesame seeds, cumin seeds, nuts, chilli, ground cumin, ground coriander and sumac, if using.
  7. Toast the mixture in a dry pan until fragrant.
  8. Roll eggs in dukkah mixture and serve on a platter with olives and dolmathes.   

Spiced leg of lamb with cumin yoghurt 

Serves 4 

Add a smoky flavour to the lamb by cooking it over medium to hot coals for 25 minutes, turning regularly.  


For the tomato salad 

1 punnet (250g) mixed cherry tomatoes 
2 Tbsp olive oil 
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
Pinch of sugar 
Salt and milled pepper 
Handful fresh basil, torn   

For the lamb   

1.5-1.8kg deboned leg of lamb
Salt and milled black pepper
Glug canola oil 
4 tsp ground cumin 
4 tsp ground coriander 
4 tsp paprika 
Pinch ground cloves 
Pinch cinnamon 
2 lemons, zested and juiced  

For the yoghurt sauce 

1 cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 lemon, zested
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Pinch chilli flakes   

Flat breads, toasted for serving. 



  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 
  2. Toss together tomato salad ingredients in a bowl and set aside to marinate until serving. 
  3. Season lamb well. 
  4. Combine oil, spices and lemon zest and rub over lamb to coat evenly. 
  5. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot and grill lamb for about 10-15 minutes, turning often. 
  6. Place lamb into a deep baking tray and roast for another 15 minutes for medium rare (add an extra 10 minutes if you prefer medium to well done). 
  7. Remove from oven, drizzle with lemon juice and set aside to rest for 15 minutes. 
  8. Whisk together yoghurt sauce ingredients and season well. 
  9. Slice lamb and arrange on a platter with tomato salad, yoghurt sauce and flat breads.

Smoky baba ghanoush 

Serves 6 


Baba ghanoush is an appetiser that’s based on brijals. No tahini? Swap for the same amount of peanut or almond butter, plus a squeeze of lemon juice. 


4 medium brinjals
2 Tbsp tahini paste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, grated
Glug olive oil
Salt and milled black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
Pine nuts or almonds, toasted  

To serve  

Crunchy seasonal vegetables   


  1. Place the oven onto its highest grill setting. 
  2. Place brinjals on a baking tray and grill until skin has blackened and flesh is very soft. Cool slightly. 
  3. Scoop out flesh and drain excess liquid in a colander. Discard skins. 
  4. Blitz together brinjal flesh, tahini, lemon zest and juice, garlic and olive oil until smooth. Season well. 
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with mint, nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve alongside the crunchy veg for dipping.

Crumbed stuffed olives 

Serves 6-8 

These can be baked in the oven or popped into an air fryer, if you prefer. 


2 packets (120g each) pitted green olives 
1/2 disc feta 
2 Tbsp cream cheese 
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 lemon, zested 
Milled black pepper 
1/2 cup cake flour 
1 egg, whisked 
1 cup breadcrumbs 
Oil, for frying  


  1. Drain olives and pat dry. 
  2. Mash feta, cream cheese, garlic and lemon zest in a bowl. Season with milled black pepper. 
  3. Spoon filling into a piping bag fitted with a 3mm nozzle and pipe filling into each olive. 
  4. Roll olives in flour, then egg and lastly breadcrumbs. 
  5. Deep-fry in hot oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper. 
  6. Serve the olives warm as a snack or add to salads for extra crunch and flavour.


Greek flat breads 

Serves 8 

These are like a pita, but without the pocket and slightly thicker – almost like naan. They’re used to make gyros, which is roasted meat, tomato, onion and tzatziki wrapped in a flat bread. 


4 cups white bread flour 
2 packets instant yeast 
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed 
2 tsp salt 
2 tsp sugar 
2 cups lukewarm water 
1/4 cup olive oil 
Melted butter, for brushing   


  1. Combine flour, yeast, cumin, salt and sugar in a large bowl. 
  2. Create a hollow in the centre and add water and olive oil. 
  3. Knead for 8-10 minutes or until a smooth dough forms. 
  4. Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and set aside for 1 hour to prove until puffy and risen. 
  5. Divide into 8 balls and roll each onto a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick and 15cm in diameter. 
  6. Fry gyros in a hot dry pan for 3-4 minutes or until charred and cooked through. 
  7. Remove from heat and immediately brush with butter. Serve with lamb any of the other Greek dishes in this feature.

Herby calamari with lemon and garlic mayo 

Serves 8 

If you like your calamari with crunch, then coat with cornflour and shallow-fry in a pan. 


For the mayo  

1/4 cup mayonnaise 
1 lemon, juiced 
1/2 clove garlic, finely grated 
Handful fresh parsley, chopped  

For the calamari  

2 Tbsp butter 
1 Tbsp olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
2 packets (500g) calamari heads and tubes 
Salt and milled black pepper 
3 Tbsp capers 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander 
1/2 red onion, sliced 
200g kalamata olives, pitted 
Rocket, to serve 
Lemon wedges, to serve  


  1. Combine mayo ingredients and set aside. 
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a pan over high heat. 
  3. Fry garlic until fragrant. 
  4. Add calamari heads and tubes, season and fry for about 3-4 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool. 
  5. Toss calamari with capers, herbs, onion and olives. 
  6. Scatter rocket over a serving platter, top with calamari mix and serve with lemon and garlic mayo and lemon wedges on the side.

 Words: Sjaan van der Ploeg

Photography: Fresh Living Magazine

Also read: Greek lamb burgers in pita pockets

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