Leafy greens, wild and cultivated have to take first place in the abundance of Greek winter vegetables. Some have recognizable names like spinach, spiny chicory (a favorite on Crete), and chard, and others are less well known like burnet saxifrage (kafkalithres), palmer amaranth (vlita), and statice leaves (provatses).
Winter is also a time when the menu includes wonderful soups, stews and ragouts, and oven casseroles featuring root vegetables, asparagus, cauliflower, and artichokes. And cabbage - after the first frost - is spectacular.
- 3-Cheese Cauliflower Bake - Soufle Kounoupithiou
This recipe calls for a thick, creamy, cheesy sauce made with a combination of sharp and mild cheeses. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, sprinkle with even more cheese, and bake. (And it's terrific with broccoli, too!)
- Arugula, Fennel Root & Orange Salad - Salata Roka me Finokio kai Portokali
Arugula (rocket) is a winter green, making this a fabulous choice with other winter favorites of fennel root and oranges. Be sure to use pearl or boiler (small) onions which contribute a sweeter taste than other onions.
- Boiled or Wilted Leafy Greens - Horta Vrasta
A classic, this easy recipe brings out the best in a wide range of leafy greens. Whether you choose spinach, a more exotic green, or a combination, this is a delicious, and healthy dish that is a daily addition to Greek menus (photo #3).
- Braised Eggplant with Potatoes - Melitzanes Katsarolas
In this dish, the eggplant is dredged in flour and browned to a slight crisp before adding to the pot, giving the dish a lovely mix of textures and tastes. This stovetop dish includes eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, herbs, and olive oil. A great winter favorite for eggplant that may be more bitter than the summer crop.
- Broccoli with Oil-Lemon Sauce - Brokolo me Latholemono
There's no secret to this simple recipe, but the addition of the oil and lemon sauce to the broccoli gives it a distinctively Greek touch. It's easy to make and gets green vegetables on the table in a new way.
- Cabbage Salad - Lahanosalata
Wise Greek cooks say that the best cabbage comes after the first cold snap, so this is a traditional winter salad. And isn't your everyday coleslaw, although it may start out looking that way. Cabbage, carrots (optional), wild celery, and garlic give this a unique taste, with a traditional Greek dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.
- Corfiot Hot Pepper Vegetable Soup - Bourou-Bourou
Grab your favorite winter vegetables for this spicy soup. Red pepper flakes are added to taste, and when it's cold outside, this is a great way to warm up.
- Easy Spinach Pie - Spanakopita
And where would be without one of the greatest classics of all... spanakopita. This is one of the easiest recipes for this delightful dish made with spinach and feta cheese. The phyllo dough handling has been simplified, and the results are wonderful.
- Fennel Root Tart with Cheese - Tarta Marathoriza
Fennel root (often sold as "anise") has a fabulous light licorice taste and smell, and it's usually quite inexpensive. Combine it with milk, eggs, and a sharp cheese and bake in prepared puff pastry for an easy and delightful appetizer.
- Leeks and Rice - Prasoryzo
Leeks are a member of the onion family and are often overlooked in favor of more well-known onions. They are sweeter than onions, with a more subtle taste. This delightful dish combines the tastes of leeks, dill, and lemon juice with white rice.
- Potato Ragout - Patates Yiahni
This meatless main dish is simple and easy, and a favorite for those cold, blustery days. Serve with crusty bread for the sauce and a side of feta cheese. Add a seasonal salad for a more substantial meal (photo #2).
- Spinach & Asparagus Bake - Spanaki me Sparaggia Ograten
This combination of fresh spinach, asparagus. and herbs on a bed of grated potatoes, with cream and sharp cheese is a delicious winter meatless main dish or side (photo #1).