Meteora, Greece is a fascinating area in Thessaly known for its otherworldly rock formations, orthodox monasteries, jaw-dropping vistas, and charming villages. What you may not know is that Meteora also boasts delicious mountain cuisine – hearty main courses (stews, pies, and casseroles) that are quite different from the lighter seafood dishes that are often served in the islands.
To found out which restaurants serve these amazing dishes, check out our episode: Where to Eat in Meteora, Greece
In fact, the meals I had in Meteora couldn’t be more different from the foods I had in the islands. As is common throughout Greece, foods are seasonal. For instance, in the summer you’ll find that tomato is a common ingredient (e.g. tomatoes stuffed with rice), and in winter people use more pork, leek, and celery in their cooking. Rest assured, you’ll still find all the classic Greek foods adored by all – feta cheese, olives, moussaka, lamb chops, etc.
Don’t forget to check out our Guide to Classic and Traditional Greek Foods Including an A-Z Glossary
So what sets Meteoran cuisine apart from the rest?
Meatballs are typically made my mixing ground beef with egg, olive oil, black pepper, cumin, and oregano. There are many different types of meatball recipes and are usually served in a tomato-based sauce (souzoukakia). Keftedes are also a type of Greek meatball, but are usually served with lemon wedges and tzatziki rather than in a tomato sauce.
Everyone has their favorite recipe for lamb stew, but it usually includes tender morsels of fresh lamb meat cooked slowly with seasonal vegetables such as onions, carrots and potatoes.
Roasted lamb dishes are served with lamb baked in the oven until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Minimal seasoning makes this dish outstanding: olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Can be served with an array of sides such as rice, roasted potatoes, or salad.
This dish has pork filet and whole peppercorns. It’s ready when all the fat is rendered off the pork and the meat is melt-in-your-mouth-soft.
This dish is a little bit spicy. It uses lean pork shoulder, tomatoes, and cabbage cut into strips. Its spice comes from the peppers used.
Lean pork shoulder with leeks, celery and the signature avgolemono sauce (eggs and lemon juice).
These fried pieces of heaven are a hit with the entire family. Made by grating zucchini, squeezing all the water out of them, mixing them with salt, pepper, eggs, and flour, forming the mixture into small patties, then frying in olive oil until golden brown. YUM!
A Greek staple food that’s served as an appetizer. Its name comes from the pan the cheese is fried in – the sagani. There are many variations of this dish depending on the part of Greece you’re in. Most restaurants use halloumi, kasseri, kefalotyri. The cheese is fried in oil and served with lemon wedges and bread.
Being that there’s an actual Mushroom Museum in Meteora, it’s no wonder that wild mountain mushrooms form part of the local cuisine. Meteora is home to several species of these edible fungi, so be sure to ask your waiter if they have mushrooms on the menu when you go.
You may have already tried Ouzo, Greece’s most popular alcoholic beverage. Ouzo has a strong licorice smell and is made from pressed grapes. A similar drink, Tsipouro, is popular throughout Thessaly. It’s made from the remains of the grapes that have already been pressed (seeds, skins, etc). Tsipouro is also called “Raki” in countries like Macedonia and Turkey. In Meteora, sipping Tsipouro is an age-old tradition dating back to the beginning of monastic life. Glasses of Tsipouro are usually accompanied by small bites, or meze.
Kokoretsi is a delicacy in Greece. Lamb innards are wrapped in intestines then broiled over a charcoal fire until crunchy on the outside. Kokoretsi is traditionally an Easter food that is very labor intensive and eaten on Easter Sunday.
Greeks love their tiropita and spanakopita pies – flaky and crisp phyllo dough holding together a delicious blend of cheese, spinach, or ham. Most bakeries and delis in Meteora sell pies.
A traditional Xoriatiki Salata (“village salad”) brings tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and olive oil. Some of the salads I tried in Meteora had sesame seeds, honey, balsamic vinegar and red pepper.
Tzatziki is like “Greek ketchup.” This yogurt, garlic, and cucumber dip can be paired with almost anything and is usually served as an appetizer or side dish.
Similar to lasagna, pastitsio is a baked dish of pasta, ground beef (can be a mixture of pork and beef, or veal and beef), béchamel, and cheese. Slices are served piping hot.
Moussaka is an iconic Greek comfort food that is prepared all over. It is similar to pastitsio but has thinly sliced eggplant instead of pasta.
Yiouvetsi is a traditional casserole that typically is made of beef and orzo (kritharaki) pasta baked in a clay pot. It’s made family-style in a large pot, but can be adapted for single servings by using smaller pots. In Thessaly veal is plentiful, making it a natural substitute for beef. Veal yiouvetsi is not only filling – it’s packed with flavor!
This is by no means a complete list of dishes you must try in Meteora – just a few recommendations after my recent trip to the area. The important thing to keep in mind is if it’s homemade, you really can’t go wrong. So do yourself a favor and spend a few days exploring the beautiful landscapes of Meteora and remember to bring an appetite because you’ll need it!
Have any suggestions of dishes you must try in Meteora? Leave us a comment below!