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.

Edited and published by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities (ACOM – SEDIK), the Traditional Cretan Diet book includes more than 100 recipes made with olive oil.

As Eftihia Diktakis wrote in the foreword, “this book aims at presenting the authenticity of the Traditional Cretan Diet that is the Mother of the invented dietary pattern called [the] ‘Mediterranean Diet,’ by presenting recipes of traditional Cretan dishes as they are executed by various Cretan housewives,” who use plenty of olive oil. The recipes were handed down from mother to daughter over the millennia.

A number of years ago, the Cretan Olive Oil Products Enterprises Network and ACOM – SEDIK sponsored a cooking contest in cooperation with the Municipality of Platanias. The judges deemed all the entries “exceptional,” so those creations by local homemakers and restaurants were all published in this book. Here are a few of the recipes.


Spring Salad with Olive Oil
(Anixiatiki salata me elaiolado)

Arhontoula Koutroubas
Kounoupidiana

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • Olive oil – 1 ½ cups
  • Graviera cheese – ½ kilogram [a bit more than 1 pound]
  • Feta cheese – ½ kilogram [a bit more than 1 pound]
  • Black eyed beans [peas] – 1 kilogram [2.2 pounds]
  • Onion – 1
  • [Salt, to taste]

Preparation

Boil the beans until cooked. Cut the cheeses and onion in cubes, then combine them in a large bowl with the beans, some salt, and plenty of olive oil. Mix and serve.


Skordalia [Garlic Dip] with Spinach
(Skordalia me spanaki)

Sophia Fountoulakis
Hania

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Olive oil – 1 cup
  • Spinach, finely chopped – 1 ½ cups
  • Walnuts – 1 ½ cups
  • Bread, soaked and strained – 1 cup
  • Garlic cloves – 3 [or more]
  • Vinegar [to taste]
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • [Walnuts, spearmint, or radish to garnish]

Preparation

Blend all ingredients in a food processor at low speed, then increase to medium speed. (Or pound all ingredients in a mortar in the traditional way.) Add more garlic, if you wish. If the dip is too thick, thin it with more olive oil or some water. Garnish with walnuts, spearmint, or radish.

Octopus Cooked in Wine
(Htapodi krasato)

Ioanna Katsanevakis-Pantelakis
Hania

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • Olive oil – 2 cups
  • Bay – some leaves
  • Octopus – 4 kilograms [8.8 pounds]
  • Onion – 1
  • Wine – 1 cup
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Preparation

Saute the octopus and the finely chopped onion in the olive oil. Add the wine and some salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer over low heat for 40 minutes.

Soutzoukakia [Spicy Meatballs] with Olives
(Soutzoukakia me elies)

Argiro Doundoulakis
Deres, Kidonia

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • Olive oil – 1 cup
  • Garlic cloves, peeled & crushed – 4
  • Minced meat – 3 kilograms [6.6 pounds]
  • Wine – ½ cup
  • Bread, soaked and strained – ½ kilogram [a bit more than 1 pound]
  • Onions – 4
  • Parsley – 1 bunch
  • Red pepper, sliced – 1
  • Tomatoes, grated – 5
  • Cumin
  • Salt – Pepper

Preparation

Mix the meat with the bread, onion, cumin, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Shape into elongated balls and fry in plenty of olive oil. Saute the onions and garlic in a pot with olive oil, then add the wine. Season with salt and pepper, add 3-4 teaspoons of the olive oil you used to fry the meat, stir in the grated tomatoes and some water, and bring to a boil. Add the olives [pitted, as many as you like] and the meat rissoles [meatballs], and make sure that they are covered with the tomato sauce. Then add the sliced tomato and red pepper, and cook until the sauce has reduced by about half.



Thanks to Dr. Nikos Mihelakis of ACOM – SEDIK, publishing coordinator for Traditional Cretan Diet: The Secret of Longevity, for permission to republish recipes from it. Slight editorial changes have been made for the sake of clarity and consistency with Greek Liquid Gold’s style; additions to the text are enclosed in brackets. Since the original photos were not available, a photo including a similar salad, but not the identical one described here, was used.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as anyone else interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. With more than 200 original articles and recipes, the only wide-ranging English-language site focused on news and information from the Greek olive oil world has reached readers in 196 countries. The high quality of Greek Liquid Gold’s reporting has been recognized by Greek and American embassies and consulates, awarded by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities, and cited in various international publications.

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Vegetarian Dishes

Desserts, Sweet Snacks, Breakfast Items

Appetizers/Snacks

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Other Main Dishes