Greek Family Traditions

Last week it was my boyfriends birthday.  He is Greek and comes from a big Greek family that are all the best cooks in the world, especially Yiayia (grandmother in Greek). I wanted to do something special for him so I decided to try my hand at making a big Greek meal served family style. I don’t know what I was thinking trying to make food that he has been eating since he was little made by the best cooks ever, but I went for it.

I don’t have any of the secret family recipes yet, so I went online and found the best recipes I could.  I’m hoping to get some of those family recipes next time Yiayia visits from Greece. Until then here are the recipes I used for Pete’s Greek Feast! (There’s no coconut oil in these recipes, but I had to stay true to Greek cooking for Pete’s birthday.)


Homemade Tzatziki with Pitas


1 pint plain Greek yogurt

1 English cucumber, peeled, grated, then squeezed between hands to remove excess water

3 garlic cloves mashed or minced

1/3 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon (can use 1/2 the lemon for less lemon flavor)

Pinch of salt


Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.  Be sure to mix completely until the olive oil has blended with the yogurt.

Put in a resealable container and refrigerate atleast 2 hours before use.  (This is not necessary, but it allows the flavors to develop and makes a tastier tzatziki.)

Heat pita bread just before serving and cut into fourths. Dip the pita bread and the Greek meatballs (recipe below) in for a delicious meal.

– Recipe adapted from this one!

Pete loved this tzatziki, so it must have been good since he is always raving about Yiayia’s tzatziki.



Greek Salad with Homemade Dressing

Dressing Ingredients

3/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 large lemon, at room temperature

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Salad Ingredients

1 large romaine lettuce

2-3 Roma tomatoes

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1/2 feta cheese, crumbled (add more if you love feta like we do)

1 cup kalamata olives


For the dressing, in a food processor (I used my mini one) mix all of the dressing ingredients until smooth.

Cover and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Chop all salad ingredients and place in large bowl. Toss with as much of the salad dressing as desired and top with a little more feta cheese.

– Recipe adapted from this one!



Greek Meatballs (Keftedes)


1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1/4 cup minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

2 slices white bread, crusts removed

1/4 cup milk

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 egg

flour for dredging

oil for frying (You can use coconut oil to fry in.  It will complement the cinnamon and add a hint of sweetness)


Mix meat, onion, garlic, and seasonings.

Pull out the mini food processor and process the white bread into small crumbs. Moisten bread crumbs in milk.

Add bread and egg to the meat mixture.

Knead mixture until everything is mixed together evenly.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before using. You can make the night before if you want to really let the flavors develop.

Shape into small balls and dredge in flour. Drop in your favorite hot oil and fry until cooked through and a little crispy on the outside.

Alternately, you can bake these in the oven if you want to save on the fat.  But if you really want to splurge go for the frying.  They were very good this way!

Serve with more of the tzatziki! Yum!

– Recipe adapted from this one!


Serve everything above family style on the table and let everyone dig in. It was just the two of us eating this meal and we had a ton leftover, so it could easily serve 3-4!



– JR

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