If you are following a vegetarian diet, it can sometimes be hard to think of exciting and tasty meals that liven up your everyday menu. If you are looking for something a little more exotic to add to your culinary repertoire, consider trying some of the many vegetarian Greek entrees that are not only delicious but which are also good for your health.
The Mediterranean Diet
You have probably heard a lot in the media over recent years about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and this way of eating is based on the traditional way of eating found in Greece and its islands. This regime involves primarily living on homegrown and fresh foods with a large number of fresh vegetables and fruits together with nuts and olive oil. There are many advantages that are linked with living this lifestyle including:
Protection against Type II diabetes since this diet is full of fiber and so slows digestion to prevent blood sugar surges.
Protection against strokes and heart disease.
Helping to keep you agile into old age – the nutrients found in this diet reduces the risk of older people developing weakness in their muscles by around 70%.
Reducing the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease as this type of diet improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels which is thought to reduce the risk of dementia.
Cutting the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease by 50% thanks to the high antioxidant levels in this diet which prevent cells from undergoing oxidative stress.
Increasing lifespan – the Mediterranean Diet cuts the risk of developing cancer and heart disease meaning that those who follow this lifestyle cut their risk of dying early by a fifth.
Popular Greek Vegetarian Main Dishes
Although many well known Greek dishes, such as moussaka, do contain meat, there are many excellent vegetarian Greek recipe versions of these popular meals. There are also many Greek dishes which are vegetarian in their own right. Greek cuisine incorporates many delicious vegetarian ingredients such as eggplants, feta cheese, beans, lentils, spinach, tomatoes, vine leaves and vegetable based rice dishes. A Greek vegetarian cookbook will be packed with ideas for both quick and easy, and more complex and impressive meals that are sure to delight your tastebuds, however to give you a taste of what you could be enjoying, we have gathered together a collection of some of the best vegetarian and vegan Mediterranean recipes to get you started.
This veggie version of a Greek classic is sure to become one of your favorite meals and will please all the family.
Ingredients: (Serves 8)
3 1/2 lbs unpeeled eggplant, cut into rounds of 1/2″ in thickness
1/2 cup olive oil
1 thinly sliced onion
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
4 minced garlic cloves
12 oz mushrooms cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon of tomato puree
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups of whole milk
4 egg yolks
Cover two baking sheets with paper towel and sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt. Place the eggplant in a layer on top of the towels and leave for 30 minutes. Preheat your own to 425°F. Dry the eggplant and oil the baking sheets. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the oil and then arrange on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the eggplant and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Turn down the oven’s temperature to 350°F. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large heavy skillet over a medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and celery and saute until the onion is tender. Add garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute until the juices evaporate. Add the cinnamon and oregano, tomatoes and parsley and cook until, the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Oil a glass baking dish measuring 13 x 9 x 2″. Place half of the eggplant in a single layer on the bottom of the dish and then spoon half of your tomato mixture over the toip. Add 2 tablespoons of cheese and repeat the layering process. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the floor, stir for 2 minutes and then whisk in the milk slowly. Continue to simmer until the sauce becomes thick, stirring all the time. Whisk in 1/2 cup of cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the yolks in a large bowl then whisk in the sauce. Pour over the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake in the oven until heated through and the sauce appears golden brown.
This is one of the best Greek vegetable side dishes to serve alongside your Mediterranean inspired entree, however it can also be eaten on its own as a snack or for lunch.
2 cups of Puy lentils
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 zested lemons
6 tablespoons of lemon juice
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of chopped oregano
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
1 chopped red onion
1/2 pint of halved cherry tomatoes
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cucumber, cubed
6oz feta cheese (optional – can be omitted for vegans)
Put the lentils into a pan with 4 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, strain the lentils and set aside. Whisk the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, sale and pepper in a bowl. Add this mix to the lentils and allow to cool. Once cool, add the herbs, tomatoes, onion, cucumber and garlic and stir gently. Crumble the feta cheese over the top (if using) and serve with pitta bread.
This spinach pie is one of the heartiest and most satisfying Greek vegetable recipes with which to feed your family.
3 lbs of thawed frozen spinach
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
2 diced medium onions
8 sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped parsley
3 large eggs
8 oz. of low-fat crumbled feta cheese
12 sheets thawed frozen phyllo dough
Squeeze the spinach dry and then place in a bowl. Head 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over a medium heat then add the onions and saute for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, green onions and nutmeg and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the parsley before leaving to cool. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs the stir into the spinach mixture, then fold in the feta cheese. Put the rest of the oil into a bowl and brush the sides and bottom of a 9″ baking pan with oil. Unroll the phyllo pastry and place 1 sheet into the prepared pan. Brush with oil and then place the second sheet across the first. Brush with oil again and repeat with 4 more sheets. Spread out the spinach mixture across the phyllo pastry. Spread 1 phyllo sheet onto the work surface and brush with oil. Top with another sheet and continue brushing with oil and layering with the rest of the phyllo sheets. Place this stack of sheets onto the spinach mixture and trim the edges until no more than 1″ of pastry hangs over the dish’s edge. Roll the edges over the pie and brush its top with oil. Bake for one hour then cool for 10 minutes and serve.