Greek Cooking and Herbs

Welcome to the land of endless sunny beaches, ancient history abounding and great food -- research shows it to be the healthiest diet in the world. My family came from Crete in the early 1900's. This page shares family recipes and my knowledge of Greek cooking.

Cooking with herbs is the basis of Greek cooking. Most of the herbs that we use in cooking today originated in the Mediterranean region. This page is about the style of Greek cooking and providing knowledge of the commonly used herbs. Greek cooking is more of a style rather than a type of cooking which is easily transformed into using the available produce and meats.

The basis of Greek Cooking is that they use what is in season. Since the end of summer is the time of garden fresh produce and lots and lots of zucchini, I thought I would start with a recipe using zucchini. Monthly, I will provide new recipe(s) and information  about Greek Cooking.

Basic Principles of Greek Cooking

  • Greeks tend to use vegetables and legumes as a mainstay.
  • Greek seasonings are flavorful, mixing common spices in main courses.
  • Greeks tend to use lemon, garlic and olive oil as main flavorings to which herbs are added. Lemon can be used as a salt substitute especially on vegetables.
  • Meats tend to be used in bite size pieces or ground, and as whole pieces only on special occasions.
  • Fish and cheese tend to be main sources of protein.
  • Flavoring is through the use of seasonings such as spices, herbs, onions, honey, lemon and olive oil.
  • Greek cooking boasts a rich variety of poultry and seafood dishes. Chicken is one of the few meats readily cooked with fruit.
  • Greek flavoring is never spicy.
  • Greeks tend to plan meals around what is fresh and available in season. The emphasis is on fresh natural flavors.

Here’s a little background on some of the ingredients common in Greek cooking.


The Crusaders introduced lemon to the Greeks in the thirteenth century. Today lemon is the most used fruit flavoring in Greek cooking.

Lemon juice is the essence ingredient in many marinades and sauces and compliments well with olive oil. It is a favorite basting for grilled foods. It is the secret ingredient in dessert sauces and soups. It is often mated with oregano to flavor fish, meat and poultry.


Mint is used by the Greeks as basil is used by the Italians. It is used to flavor red sauces and various meat dishes especially meatballs. It is used often in rice stuffing and cheese pies or with both savory and sweet flavors.

The use of mint played an important role in a tale from Greek mythology. Two strangers walking through Asia Minor after being refused food or drink were offered a meal by Philemon and Baucis. Before setting the table, they rubbed mint leaves across it to clean and freshen it. The strangers were actually gods, Zeus and Hermes in disguise. They rewarded their hosts for their hospitality by changing their humble house into a temple. Therefore, mint has became a symbol of hospitality. Ancient Greeks used mint in various herbal treatments and temple rites. They believed the mint cleared the voice, cured hiccups, and counteracted sea serpent stings.

Greek Recipes from Herbal Nature

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