Greece Inspired Vegetarian Recipes

In summer 2018, we spent a few weeks sailing and cruising the Greek islands. After several months of managing our very demanding full time jobs and working on VeggieOption at the same time, we were in need of taking it slow and simple. Holidaying on a boat is exactly that... Only a few pieces of clothing, lunches prepared with max 3 ingredients and wind and the sea as your daily priority rather than which emails to respond. Dazzling brilliant light of the sun, the transparent dark blue waters of the Aegean, most delicious local produce and the aroma of wild thyme brought by the gentle breeze. A definite shift in perspective.

 

Shopping

Our journey started in Kos, one of the Dodecanese Islands, where we walked every tiny street of Kos Town while we searched for essential items to take onboard. At a first glance, it seems a very touristic place and we cannot wait to sail off. But we discover Portes, a curated delicatessen that focuses on quality and environmentally friendly products from Greece. This also probably is the only shop where you can find vegan products on the island. We will be cooking with only few ingredients for the next few weeks so we are very careful in selecting them. After tasting every single olive oil on their extensive selection, we buy our 2 weeks supply of fresh fruits and vegetables (peaches and big juicy tomatoes require special mention), Go.Slow extra virgin olive oil, Green&Blu vinegar, olives, grains and herbs, raw wild thyme honey by Kopanezos Family as well as a biodegradable toothbrush.

 

Light Breakfast and Lunch

And we sailed off. Your daily routine on a boat is very simple. Wake up and jump into the sea to wash your face. Then comes the preparation for a very light breakfast and lunch. We should let you know that a boat’s kitchen is very tiny and it normally takes twice as long to cook something on the stove. Storage and fridge space is limited. All the perfect reasons for being very mindful of what you waste.

A simple breakfast recipe goes like this:

Ingredients: 4-6 Fresh Peaches Wild Thyme Honey Greek Yoghurt Cut 2 peaches per person into chunks and roast them for 10-15 minutes. Hard to say at what temperature because you never know on a boat. They should be warm enough, starting to soften and release their juice but not too cooked. Put in a bowl and top with Greek Yogurt, Walnuts (or almonds) and a spoonful of Greek Thyme Honey.

 

And for lunch:

Ingredients: 200gr barley Zest of quarter of a lemon 1 tablespoon ground turmeric 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt & Pepper to season Handful of fresh parsley Boil barley (or orzo pasta). Drain and put in a bowl. Add lemon zest (start with zest of quarter of a lemon. Lemon zest has a strong taste so it is up to you to do decide how sour and bitter you want it), turmeric, olive oil, salt & pepper and handful of fresh parsley. As a side dish, cut tomatoes in circles or chunks. Finely dice a clove of garlic. And mix everything together with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tomatoes do love salt so don’t be shy. If you prepare your salad a few hours ahead of lunch, the tomatoes will release their juice adding freshness to this simple sauce.

 

We visited 10 islands during our trip, all have their unique characteristics. From the ‘holy’ island Patmos, to disturbingly beautiful Amorgos, some more commercial, some more remote. We dined mainly at simple fisherman tavernas on the beach which are a bit like the South Asian restaurants on Brick Lane. A typical taverna menu focuses on seafood but has plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes such as courgettes, stuffed peppers and gigantes beans. A traditional, amazingly tasty Greek dip called ‘fava’ is alo a taverna staple. This humble legume is incredibly simple to prepare and makes a velvety vegan dish when paired with tomatoes, red onions and caper leaves.

Here is how to make Fava in 5 easy steps:

Ingredients: 200gr fava beans (yellow split peas) 1 large onion 100 gr olive oil 1 Lemon Salt & Pepper to season

 

  • Rinse 200gr fava beans (yellow split peas) under running cold water, until all dust has washed off.
  • Put the fava and a roughly chopped large onion in a saucepan with cold water. The amount of water should be twice as much as the fava. You can add bay leaves, thyme or rosemary to infuse flavours but this is entirely optional.
  • Bring to boil until fava becomes mushy. You will see some white foam as the fava heats. You can remove this foam with spoon.
  • Once fava looks like mashed potatoes add 100 gr olive oil, juice of a lemon and a teaspoon of salt. You shouldn’t have to smash the fava beans as they break on their own.  If it looks too juicy let it sit for 30 mins or so. It will absorb the water. You can also store in your fridge for up to 3-4 days. Fava is a base so you can add flavours later, when you are ready to serve.
  • The last step is entirely up to you. You can serve with finely chopped red onions, tomatoes and capers (or caper leaves). If you fancy, caramelize your onions.

Simple!