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Delicious vegetables | © Leonid Mamchenkov / Flickr
Delicious vegetables | © Leonid Mamchenkov / Flickr
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16 Vegetarian-Friendly Greek Dishes in Every Taverna

Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 3 July 2017
Greek food is delicious and varied, but something you may not know is that it is vegetable-based. Indeed, a quick look at the history of vegetarianism shows that it has origins in the ancient Indian and Greek civilisations, so it is not surprising that the habits continue to thrive, with vegetarian and vegan options available in many tavernas and restaurants. Here is a list of vegetarian-friendly food you can find in virtually every taverna in Greece, depending on the season.

Greek salad or horiatiki

Greek salad is the most famous and basic dish you will find on every menu. This fresh, flavourful salad, consisting of tomatoes, olive, cucumbers, onions and feta cheese, is seasoned with salt and oregano, olive oil, vinegar and sometimes lemon juice.

Greek salad
Greek salad | © PixaBay

Cabbage and carrot salad or lahanosalata me karoto

Lahanosalata is a classic winter salad. As Greeks tend to eat according to the season, cabbage becomes heavily featured on menus during the colder months. As such, this variant of coleslaw without the creamy dressing is simply delicious. While the recipe may vary slightly depending on which region you are in, the cabbage salad includes shredded cabbage and carrots, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Vegetable fritters

The most common form of vegetable fritters you will find are kolokithokeftedes (or squash fritters), but depending on the area and recipes, you may also find tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters), eggplants and so on. Tzatziki sauce usually accompanies these fritters for dipping.

Kolokithokeftedes
Kolokithokeftedes | © chuck_heston/Flickr

Dakos

This Cretan-style salad, also called koukouvayia, is a slice of soaked barley rusk covered with chopped or grated tomato, crumbled feta or mizithra cheese and olive oil. This dish is a tasty and healthy meal, providing you with fibre and antioxidants.

Beetroots or patzaria

Served cold or still slightly warm, beetroots are delicious on their own, but they are often paired with skordalia, a garlicky potato purée. Usually boiled, they are seasoned and served with a dash of olive oil.

Beetroots
Beetroots | © PixaBay

Briam

A dietician’s dream food, briam is the equivalent of the French ratatouille. Part of the ladera style of dishes (vegetables cooked in an olive oil-based sauce), it consists of chunks of zucchini, potatoes, and eggplant baked in an oven and mixed with tomato sauce and olive oil.

Leafy greens, boiled greens or horta (vrasta)

Growing virtually everywhere, wild leafy greens, such as vlita, beet, dandelion or other local greens, are boiled, seasoned and served with olive oil and lemon. Healthy, simple and tasty, all you need to do is savour them with some bread, and you’re good to go!

Boiled wild greens
Boiled wild greens | © Sotiria Simota/WikiCommons

Dolmades

The staple meze in every Greek restaurant across the world, dolmades are delectable vine leaves stuffed with lemon-flavored rice, fresh herbs and spices and then rolled up.

Fava

You can never go wrong with ordering a plate of fava. This delicious dip/purée features a blend of split peas and olive oil. Sometimes garnished with onions and capers, it’s even better when paired with some bread.

Gigantes

A healthy and satisfying dish, gigantes are broad beans (butter beans) baked in a thick, sweet tomato sauce, although you may find them cooked in a variety of ways. Sometimes they have crumbled feta cheese on top as a garnish.

Imam

This toothsome dish, called imam or imam baldi, dates back to the Ottoman period and consists of sliced eggplants cooked with oil, tomatoes, onions and spices. It can be roasted or baked in an oven.

Spanakopita

The ubiquitous spanakopita (or spinach pie) is a baked phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and onion. Sometimes feta cheese is also included in the mix. You can eat these tasty delicacies as a snack, a side dish or even a main meal.

Spanakopita
Spanakopita | © Sodexo USA/Flickr

Spinach rice or spanakorizo

A creamy and appetising recipe, spanakorizo is a rice dish made with spinach, onion and seasoning and has the consistency of risotto. Easy to make and full of flavour, it can be a main or side dish.

Tzatziki

This refreshing yogurt-based sauce includes cucumbers, dill and garlic. Usually served as a dip, it is also used in pittas (yes, you can even find the ikologiko souvlaki, the meatless version of the all-time favourite street food).

Tzatziki sauce
Tzatziki sauce | © Garfada/Flickr

Gemista

Hearty and filling, gemista (meaning stuffed or filled) are oven-baked tomatoes or bell peppers stuffed with a filling of rice, veggies and fresh herbs. Of course, there are many variants of this dish, but the result will always make your mouth water.

Ladera dishes

Greek cuisine includes a type of dish commonly called ladera, which means cooked in oil, or oily. Almost always vegetarian, these vegetable stews (or casseroles) consist of a variety of vegetables cooked (often baked in an oven) with oil and tomato sauce and include okra (bamies), green beans, stuffed tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and legumes. Usually eaten as a main dish, it can also contain feta cheese, and an extensive amount of bread for dipping often accompanies it.

Okras in tomato and oil sauce
Okras in tomato and oil sauce | © Robert Kindermann/WikiCommons