Who doesn’t love a good plate of pasta? Whether it’s penne with pesto or hearty lasagna, you’ve surely got a favorite dish. Greece also has pasta, which range from well-known kritharaki (or orzo for the rest of the world) to more obscure types served across its territory. Join us on a unique exploration of the fascinating world of Greek pasta.
Just like in Italy, Greeks have been making pasta for centuries. The long durability of dried food makes pasta the perfect staple to feed families after harsh winters and each region has its own or several traditional pasta dishes that unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) remain a well-kept secret.
For example, makarounes is a type of pasta consumed in a number of islands across the Aegean Sea. On the small island of Karpathos, this small finger-rolled pasta is the base ingredient of a hearty dish. Cooked and tossed with onion and garlic, makarounes are sautéed in hot olive oil and then sprinkled with grated mizithra cheese. Easy and satisfying, this simple dish can fill up the stomach of a hungry mouth in minutes. In Kos, they are known as pasa makarounes, and are consist of flat fresh sheets of homemade pasta dough, a bit like lasagna, cooked in layers of cheese or minced meat.
Though the name might seem impossible to pronounce, kritharaki is something you need to remember. With the shape of a long grain of rice, kritharaki is also known in other cultures as orzo, and is perfect in a traditional dish called giouvetsi. This dish consists of a casserole dish where meat (usually beef or lamb) is cooked for hours and where the pasta is added to cook in the delicious meat juice.
Flomaria is a pasta specialty from the secluded island of Lemnos. Cut in tiny pieces, flomaria is made with flour, fresh eggs and sheep milk. In the past, flomaria making was symbolic of celebration, as housewives would gather and make the dough for each family while chatting and gossiping. The pasta is used in many traditional recipes in soups, and dishes with meat and vegetables. Today, flomaria pasta can be bought in some specialty grocers and online, making it possible for anyone to discover and try the pasta on their own.
Meaning “little ears” in Lemnian dialect, aftoudia are another type of pasta native of Lemnos. Pair them with any type of sauce you can think of, this pasta is a must-try if you are lucky enough to taste them on your next visit to the underrated island.
Hilopites are little squares of goodness that can be cooked and served in a cream or tomato sauce, or in a delicious avgolemono soup. Contrary to Italian pasta, these need to be cooked until soggy, and can simply be consumed with a bit of seasoning and some grated cheese on top.
This list may be over but you certainly ought to try trahana (crumble-like pasta eaten in soups but also for breakfast), the delicious Cretan skioufichta (macaroni-style pasta), the striftades (rice-like pasta) and toutoumakia (stamp-shape pasta) from Peloponnese or any of the delicious pasta delicacies you will encounter as you explore Greece. But we need to warn you, you may quickly become addicted.