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. 

lamb tartare artistically arranged on a white plate

Chef Vasilis Leonidou strives “to blend the right olive oil into my recipes to impart character and balance between the ingredients and the olive oil.” He also enjoys experimenting with “rare and unique varieties of EVOO that chefs do not use very often in restaurants because of their complexity.” His results have drawn the attention of influential critics.

cuttlefish on a cutting board

In this elegant gourmet recipe by chef Vassilis Alexiou, a spicy, full-bodied Manaki extra virgin olive oil from the Peloponnese in Greece gives a boost to the mild flavors of lentils, cuttlefish, and caviar. The recipe exemplifies this Greek chef’s interest in “waking up” or enlivening a recipe that starts out mild, by adding a bold extra virgin olive oil.

Boiled greens with olive oil and lemon on a white plate

How should I use olive oil? Greeks don’t need to ask, since they consume more of this liquid gold per capita than anyone else in the world. To help those outside the major olive growing regions, Greek Liquid Gold asked Greek olive oil producers and company representatives, plus two prominent European chefs, about their favorite ways to eat olive oil.

Lentils, cuttlefish, and caviar dish by Vassilis Alexiou

From Athens to Paris, from Kalamata to Santorini and Samos, Greek Chef de Cuisine Vassilis Alexiou has sought out the best products and producers. Connecting with farmers, he identified his favorite Greek products, including a variety of olive oils. Then he astonished Parisian chefs by incorporating eleven different extra virgin olive oils into his recipes.

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.

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.

a large glass bowl of spanakorizo next to a small bouquet of anemones

You can make this vegan recipe using more or less of various ingredients, including spinach, depending on your preference. You can even use the spinach stems left over after you’ve made something else with the spinach leaves. I prefer to make the dish healthier using wholegrain brown rice, but that must be cooked separately given its longer cooking time.

Maria Loi

Appointed Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy by the Chef’s Club of Greece, celebrity chef Maria Loi celebrates the flavor and healthiness of the olive oil rich Greek diet. Loi recently took time out from cooking at her Loi Estiatorio restaurant in midtown Manhattan, New York to share her thoughts about olive oil and the Greek diet with Greek Liquid Gold.

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.

a chocolate cake in a round metal pan with two candles burning on the cake and a bouquet of flowers and a bowl of cherries near it

This is a very tasty, simple cake that requires just one pan, where the batter is mixed, and no bowl, which makes cleanup very quick. Made with extra virgin olive oil, no butter or eggs, and just a reasonable amount of sugar, it is an excellent cake for an everyday treat. This is my young son’s favorite recipe to make and share, so the recipe is in demand.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

a photo of lamb stuffed green peppers

On any night I use this recipe to make a quick dinner for my family. I tend to keep green peppers on hand and lamb in my freezer. It’s one of those dishes you can pull together in no time. I shop for ground lamb, or you can use ground beef, at the butcher department of the grocery store. He can always grind you a pound or two. Choose the rice you prefer.

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.

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.

carrot onion parsley frittata pictured with pumpkin and pomegranates

This recipe’s first name was my teenage daughter’s idea, and a UFO seems appropriate (like its orange color) for Halloween. The second name is closer to accurate, but not exactly. This is a Cretan mother’s variation on some wonderful carrot parsley bread sticks, and an invention so tasty everyone in my family likes it (hallelujah—a rarity for healthy food!).

two round white plates next to each other, one with small preserved fish fillets arranged like rays, the other with a black eyed pea salad

Looking for recipes rich in olive oil these days? Here are some from homemakers on the Greek island of Crete: a black eyed pea salad; a spinach, walnut, and garlic dip; octopus cooked in wine; and spicy meatballs (soutzoukakia) with olives and tomato sauce. They are worth trying, because they are part of the Traditional Cretan Diet: The Secret of Longevity.

Vegetarian Dishes

Desserts, Sweet Snacks, Breakfast Items



Other Main Dishes