Recipes of Ancient Greece

The Land of Meats and Honey

Baklava
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The foods of ancient Greece were varied, with a concentration on vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish, and a variety of meats. Meats were roasted on spits, cooked in ovens, and boiled.

There were some usual cuisine customs at that time that you would consider odd now. For example,  fish was often cooked with cheese. The wine was watered down and sometimes garlic was added.

The technique to make the very thin phyllo dough had been discovered sometime around the 4th century B.C., so it's likely that sweets like baklava were also eaten, but there was no sugar.

Honey was the traditional sweetener, as were figs, and products made from naturally sweet grapes.

According to the "Alimentary Habits in Ancient Greece," the oldest known recipe is for slices of fish cooked with cheese and oil. Measurements were vague since it was presumed that a good cook would know the correct amounts. Men did the roasting of meats over coals or on spits (ancient barbecues), and women did the baking, boiling, and oven cooking.

To get a taste of ancient Greece, check out a number of dishes that reflect the ingredients and cooking techniques of ancient times.

Ancient Bean Soup

This recipe has only a few ingredients and requires a soaking of the beans overnight. Honey gives it sweetness and balances out the garlic, which gives it kick. The addition of lard gives the dish a rich texture. To keep this dish vegetarian, substitute oil for lard. 

Grape Must

Moustos, also known as grape must, is made using the juice squeezed from fresh grapes.

This is made in large quantities during the September grape harvest in Greece. It freezes well and can be used throughout the year.

Petimezi Grape Syrup

Grape must is used to make petimezi, a grape syrup known since ancient times that is used like maple syrup, grape must pudding (moustalevria), and various types of sweets.

Ancient Baklava (Gastrin)

An early version of baklava is a dessert called gastrin. This recipe calls for a few ingredients that may seem unusual for a baklava: sesame seeds, pepper, and poppy seeds. Before the ancient Greeks had sugar, they used petimezi grape syrup.

Cod with Coriander

The preparation of this fish is not all that different than recipes that you would find in the modern day. What makes this dish unique is that the coriander seeds are toasted, ground down, and incorporated. Another unique twist is a sprinkle of vinegar instead of lemon once it's done.

Easy Oranges with Honey

In minutes, you can eat a meal that the Greeks have been enjoying for thousands of years: oranges with honey. In the amount of time it takes for you to peel an orange and drizzle some honey, your meal is complete.

Easy Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli)

In markets today, you can find these sesame honey bars everywhere. The difference is that the ancient Greeks did not have refined sugar. The sugar used today hardens the bars and makes them crunchy. The ancient version was chewier, but simple to make with only two ingredients: sesame seeds and honey.

Honey & Sesame Fritters

This simple recipe requires water, flour, and honey.

You mix the three, pan fry both sides, and dredge in sesame seeds for a delicious treat.

Roasted Leeks and Apple

Often the most appetizing of dishes are those that incorporate very few items so each ingredient shines through. Farm-fresh leeks and orchard apples tossed with some white wine, honey, and spices make for a hearty, yet refined, side dish—even centuries later.