From ancient times to modern day, from Andros to Santorini, Greek food has been shaped by its culture, heritage and geography. The result? Family recipes made with fresh ingredients that provide a life of longevity. According to the Washington Post, natives of Greek islands live on average 8 to 10 years longer than Americans. You don’t necessarily have to live on the islands to adopt this lifestyle — you can start with your grocery cart. Greek-American chef, cookbook author and journalist, Christina Xenos, shares her top Greek grocery produce picks with us to get you started.
Chef Christina Xenos, who recently co-authored, “Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook: Modern Mediterranean Recipes for Living the Good Life,” is a great resource for more information on Greek cooking. From childhood memories of making dolmathes with her Yiayia to annual trips back to the islands, Xenos offers a wealth of information on this cuisine on her cookbook. Pair this produce list with some of her recipes and you’re well on your way to living a long life — Opa!
Greek Produce Must-Haves
Most of these ingredients should be available at your local grocery store. If not, reach out to your produce department manager and request that they have these items in stock. If you want quality guaranteed, make sure to look for the Melissa’s logo when you shop.
- Heirloom Tomatoes
- Bell Peppers
- Cucumbers (I love the mini ones)
- Onions (yellow and red)
Christina’s Shrimp Santorini
After you’re done shopping produce, pass through seafood to pick up some shrimp to make Christina’s Shrimp Santorini — grab the recipe below! “Christina’s first time enjoying this dish was at an open-air restaurant in Fira, the main city on the island of Santorini. Under a beautiful sunset, she noshed on succulent shrimp accompanied by rich, tangy tomatoes topped with feta cheese. The Greeks have been teaming seafood with cheese for thousands of years, so the old adage of not combining the two need not apply here.” — Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook: Modern Mediterranean Recipes for Living the Good Life
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Christina’s first time enjoying this dish was at an open-air restaurant in Fira, the main city on the island of Santorini. Under a beautiful sunset, she noshed on succulent shrimp accompanied by rich, tangy tomatoes topped with feta cheese. The Greeks have been teaming seafood with cheese for thousands of years, so the old adage of not combining the two need not apply here. You’ll love this recipe!
- 1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the onion)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (plus more for seasoning the shrimp)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 pounds tomatoes (chopped or grated)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
- handful Kalamata olives (pitted)
- 6 ounces Feta Cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
- Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the salt, and season with black pepper.
- In a medium oven-safe skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add the onion and season with salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent.
- Add the garlic and black pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring, until soft.
- Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Sauté for 10 minutes. (If your skillet isn’t oven-safe, you can turn the tomato mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.)