three layer carrot cake with cream cheese icing, with a big piece cut out

This is my mother’s wonderful recipe. A fruity olive oil works very well with cinnamon in this popular, tasty cake. It makes a 9 X 13 inch rectangle or a (more impressive) three-layer cake. I double the recipe, freeze the rectangle, and eat the layer cake first. There’s always an occasion when we “need” the other cake before too long, and it freezes well.

Whole baked fish on plate with olive oil at a restaurant, sea and old buildings in the background

When he led the famous Seven Countries Study that inspired worldwide interest in the Mediterranean diet, Ancel Keys was astonished to see Cretans’ food swimming in olive oil. He decided that was a good idea, and eventually much of the rest of the world caught on, although most countries still lag behind Greece in their olive oil consumption. 

Two-layer fudge cake (without frosting)

My mother’s original version was so good that I hesitated to tamper with it, but once I gained the courage, I found that it’s even better with yogurt and olive oil than with butter and sour cream! I always make a double recipe and freeze the sheet cake. This cake is so popular, moist and chocolaty, that it comes in handy for any special occasion.

Olive oil orange juice cookies on a plate and in two large jars near a glass of wildflowers

This is a revision of a traditional Greek olive oil and orange juice cookie with less sugar, more whole wheat flour, more orange zest, and more spices than the original. Very tasty, it is appropriate for certain types of fasting as well as for vegans, those seeking to lower their cholesterol, and health-conscious eaters who enjoy a slightly sweet treat. 

Pancakes with Apple, Orange, and Olive Oil

Cooking breakfast or brunch for a bunch? You can use a mild, fruity, or fruit flavored extra virgin olive oil in a basic pancake recipe. Or try my sugar-free apple-orange pancakes, which are so tasty they can be eaten plain, without syrup (or with maple syrup, honey or all-fruit spread). Of course, many variations are possible; I mention one below.

Peas with olive oil, carrots, onions etcetera in a glass bowl

The Greek name for this recipe translates awkwardly as “oily peas,” emphasizing the substantial amount of olive oil in it. Extra virgin olive oil is crucial to this common, quick and easy Greek dish, making it tasty, filling, and healthy. It can also be made with green beans, but my family and I prefer the sweetness of the peas with onion and carrots.

zucchini burgers on a paper towel on a plate

This zucchini burger recipe comes from a grandmother (yaya) in a Cretan village. It differs slightly from the courgette patties recipe already linked on this site. Originally, this version called for pumpkin rather than zucchini, but it is so good with zucchini that I recommend it that way. You can also try it with pumpkin—the rest is the same.

vegetable stir-fry in a glass bowl

It may seem obvious that you can make a vegetable stir fry with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). However, this recipe strikes me as remarkable because it comes out so tasty with its fresh vegetables and EVOO that you don’t need to add anything with MSG. This is my pseudo-Greek version of the Chinese-American restaurant classic I used to miss in Crete.

black eyed pea salad in a glass bowl

This is more of a suggestion than a recipe: cook your black eyed peas, add the chopped vegetables you’d like to eat with them, and toss them all together with salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Corn, beans, and sweet pepper can provide an appealing sweetness; vinegar and extra virgin olive oil add a nice contrast. The possibilities are endless!

chickpeas in a glass bowl with yellow and white plumeria flowers next to it

This easy, economical, healthy vegetarian (and vegan) chickpea recipe is a Greek classic commonly eaten by just about anyone. It’s even better if you squeeze fresh lemon juice onto your bowl of chickpeas before eating. Start with dry chickpeas rather than using canned, and soak them overnight; it’s healthier, cheaper, and not at all difficult.

2 large pieces of chicken schnitzel on a paper towel on a plate

This may not be a traditional Greek recipe, but it is very popular with children and families here. It’s almost the only way my kids will eat chicken, and when fried with extra virgin olive oil it is fine for our health, so I don’t object. To save yourself trouble, ask your butcher to prepare your chicken breast fillets for schnitzel for you.

Dr. Saverio Pandolfi (center) in the lab with researchers at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania

Dr. Saverio Pandolfi, an Italian olive oil expert at the National Research Council - Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources (CNR-IBBR) in Perugia, Italy, visited the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania in Crete, Greece last month to work with researchers and taste Greek olive oils. We discussed olive oil tasting and cooking with olive oil.

Easter Table

There is plenty of extra virgin olive oil in almost any Greek feast. For example, olive oil is poured over potatoes before baking, included in marinades for lamb, mixed with ground meats for burgers, used for frying potatoes and cheese pies, and liberally added to salads. At one Orthodox Easter feast in Crete, Xanthi’s white dip was especially rich in olive oil.

oranges hanging from trees like Christmas decorations

I've always enjoyed dessert, especially my mother’s holiday creations. But when I learned I was following my mother into pre-diabetes, I decided it was time for a change. If you’ve resolved to eat more healthy food and less added sugar in the New Year, consider my method: stop the sugar, increase the tasty healthy foods, allow yourself bits of sweet treats.

apple pie made with olive oil

Okay, so I’m not exactly Greek, but my olive oil is, and my family will tell you that I’m obsessed with it. So obsessed that I almost forgot about Thanksgiving for the first time in 14 years in Crete. So when I decided on a healthier Thanksgiving, that meant one with more olive oil. Let me explain, and then I’ll offer some Thanksgiving recipe suggestions.

Vegetarian Dishes

Desserts, Sweet Snacks, Breakfast Items

Appetizers/Snacks

Salads

Other Main Dishes